Quebec designers scoop $30K prize in Mercedes-Benz Start Up competition

Quebec designers scoop $30K prize in Mercedes-Benz Start Up competition

Main pic: Models walk the runway in the Hayley Elsaesser show, part of Fashion Week in Toronto on Tuesday October 20, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marta Iwanek.

Montreal’s UNTTLD wins $30K prize in Mercedes-Benz Start Up for emerging designers.

TORONTO — Four years was worth the wait for UNTTLD as the Montreal label was awarded the title and $30,000 cash prize in the Mercedes-Benz Start Up contest for up-and-coming Canadian designers.

Designers Jose Manuel St-Jacques and Simon Belanger competed in the inaugural Start Up final in 2011, which was won by fellow Montreal label Martin Lim.

This year, St-Jacques said they were inspired by Japanese and Spanish influences in creating their winning collection.

The crisply tailored designs were featured exclusively in black and white. Lacing, pleats and even tassels added subtle texture and style which helped elevate the level of elegance in familiar wardrobe staples like jackets, dresses and trousers.

“I think there’s a level of polish in what they’re doing,” said Fashion Magazine editor-in-chief Bernadette Morra who was part of the judging panel. “Their garments had a lot of intricate seaming and were just beautifully, beautifully executed.”

The duo behind UNTTLD said finally achieving success their second time through the Start Up contest made the victory all the more rewarding.

“We’ve really made a lot of progress,” said St-Jacques backstage at Toronto’s World MasterCard Fashion Week following the Start Up runway show on Tuesday.

“Now winning this and having all of the support, not just the money … is going to give us an opportunity to go forward and grow the brand.

“The first time we came it was very creative. We were young kids on the playground just having fun,” added Belanger.

“But in the four years from first participating (in Start Up) to now, we got the chance to meet the right people, surround ourselves with production and everything that people don’t see in a fashion show — so we’re happy.”

In addition to a cash award in the form of a $30,000 bursary, UNTTLD will received a fully produced runway show during Fashion Week next March, mentorship support and an editorial spread in Fashion Magazine.

Toronto-based womenswear labels Beaufille, Narces and Laura Siegel were among this year’s Start Up finalists, along with unisex brand S.P. Badu and Montreal label Leinad Beaudet.

Belanger had previously said that the pair would like to use the money from the prize to help further expand their business in Canada, including aspirations to open a boutique to sell directly to customers.

“All of our money goes into what we do. … so our way to travel is through our work.

“We look at a lot of documentaries and a lot magazines and we travel that way and we inject it into everything that we do. Now, with that money, we might go on a trip — a real trip!” Belanger added, laughing.

— Follow @lauren_larose on Twitter.

Lauren La Rose, The Canadian Press

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