VANCOUVERITES: On Inspiration And Bow Ties With “Belvedere” Designer Kari Bergrud
Nothing says Spring like a good craft fair and nothing says craft fair like Got Craft. It’s one of our favourite local and handmade indie highlights of the season; a room packed full of some of the coolest artists, designers and crafters in the city all selling their wares at affordable prices. We went browsing the event’s list of purveyors online and lo and behold, we came across a new name and concept: Belvedere. Curious (and hoping it wasn’t vodka), we dug a little deeper. It turned out to be a newish mens accessory line that we think you’ll love.
The gentlemen of Vancouver have long been looking for a line of mens apparel to help them look snappy. This is where Belvedere comes in. This classic collection of mens accessories is inspired by the gentlemen of the 1950′s as well as todays modern chap. Designs include ties, clip on bow ties, tie your own bow ties, suspenders, pocket combs including rules to being a gentleman, and tie clips made from vintage spoons and forks.
We got in touch with Belvedere owner Kari Bergrud to ask her about her ”Classy Goods for Classy Gents” collection…
Tell us about Belvedere. What got you going? I guess you could say that I am the new kid on the block. I have only been at this haberdasher thing for just over a year now. It began because I had some friends that were in the crafting world and they encouraged me to make some of my hobbies into a business. I started with jewelry (button earrings and bicycle inner tube earrings to be exact) but I just wasn’t feeling it. I’m a seamstress at heart, but I did still love accessories. So I thought to myself, “Self, what can I sew that is an accessory that would make people happy?” The answer was clear: ties.
Three things about Commercial Drive that make you want to live there: I’m sure that this list could go on for a while but I will try to limit myself. I love that it is a big mishmash of different kinds of people from every walk of life and that people say good morning to you when you walk down the street (or if they don’t say it to me I can say at least say it to them without seeming crazy for talking to strangers). I love the local markets (farmers and crafts) and I love that I am constantly surrounded by amazingly talented artists that have made and are continuing to make Vancouver a special place to be.
What inspires you? Being around creative people is a huge inspiration for me. I am challenged to keep my mind moving and it motivates me to get things done.
Tell us about your favourite space to work: A couple of years ago my mom gave me our family’s dining room table. It was made when furniture was heavy and ornate. When I put in all the leaves and spread out all of my supplies, that is when I am in my glory!
Where do you enjoy shopping and eating in Vancouver? One of my favorite places to hit up for dinner is Nicli Antica Pizzeria on East Cordova. The pizza is top notch and the wine list is superb. For late night drinks, Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie on Keefer is definitely top of my list. As for the stores that I find most of my treasures in, I head to Main and 3rd. There are two antique shops that are right beside each other: Space Lab and Re Find. At Space Lab I find a lot of the hardware and deco that I use for Belvedere. Re Find is more of a guilty pleasure for the part of me that thinks that I was actually born in the 1950s and 1960s. For clothes I generally head over to the classic Value Village where I find things that I can take apart and put back together again.
Is there a local designer that you admire? Someone that I admire [who] just happens to be one of my dear friends is Zach Bulick. He is also the designer of all of my graphics for Belvedere. I am fortunate enough to also work along side him at Union Gospel Mission where he is the in house graphic designer. Being around Zach is like watching “So you think you can dance” when they are crumping (maybe this is just me). You feel like after they have preformed that you could do that, too. Tragically, the gift is not always there but nonetheless you are inspired to move and make things happen. Zach is constantly making things happen and building up people in his everyday life. He makes me want to be a better artist. I would encourage everyone to look him up and get a glimpse into this creative heart that is Zach Bulick.
What is your favourite Belvedere creation right now? What I love about making men’s accessories is the clean lines that are used. Everything is precise and symmetrical. One of my favorite things to make because of that is my classic bow tie. They are adjustable and come in a plethora of colours and patterns. I also really like making my tie clips out of old spoons and forks. It makes me feel like She-ra to bend metal like that.
What sort of music do you listen to when you are working? Generally some calm stuff like Beirut or Rosie Thomas but most of the time I put on TED talks to listen to new ideas that people are coming up with around the world.
Why is Vancouver a good city for indie design? There are so many people to be encouraged by and inspired by. I probably wouldn’t even be doing this if it weren’t for the amazing people that live here.
Describe your favourite part of a typical Belvedere day: My favourite time is when I can share what I am doing with friends. I have such wonderful people in my life that want to help and support me in what I do. The catch is that sewing is becoming a lost art, so with many of these friends I am teaching them how to sew along the way. They start to come up with their own projects that they get excited about and we get to encourage each other throughout the process.
A Spring 2012 item that every stylish gentleman should have in his closet? I’m a firm believer in being a snappy dresser. It is by no shock to anyone that I would suggest a bow tie to spruce up a look. It should be noted, though, that there is a time for a pattern and there is a time for a solid colour. Learn the difference between the two and you will forever be a champion in my books. But if you are having problems, do not hesitate to ask. Belvedere is a judgement free zone.
Find out more about Belvedere here.
Got Craft? | Sunday, May 6 | 10am – 5pm | Royal Canadian Legion (2205 Commercial Drive) | $2