Mercedes-Benz’s latest Start Up competition winner, UNTTLD, redefines power dressing for the next generation
“Excuse me if I sew while we talk,” says Simon Bélanger, in a bright atelier on the eastern edge of Montreal’s Plateau district. For five years, Bélanger and José Manuel St-Jacques have been living, breathing and dreaming fashion. The partners in life and business are the designers behind UNTTLD, a Canadian women’s clothing line known for its androgynous minimalism and elegance. They have gathered awards, buzz and critical acclaim for their avant-garde designs, but now the designers have reached a level of maturity that has them tempering their wild ideas to appeal to real women. Take the Fall 2012 collection, one of their first. It was almost entirely made of fur and inspired by Conan the Barbarian. “We sold nothing,’’ says St-Jacques. “Now we know that we need to have a balance—it’s called growing up.” They are ready for their business breakthrough. “It’s easy to make crazy, costume-y things,” says Bélanger. The idea is to take those extreme ideas and incorporate them into garments that can be worn, he explains. Along the way, they have discovered their clientele. “They’re all business owners,’’ says Bélanger. “Because of this, we want all of our garments to exude power.” One black dress in a sturdy ponte fits the bill: It’s long, high-necked and intricately seamed, and fits close to the body but flares from the hips. It shows serious intent in its quality of fabric and construction—there’s nothing flimsy or weak about it."