Five Q’s is a running series where I’ll be talking to fellow writers about something they wrote, and try to ask five interesting questions about it. You can find the whole collection here.
Today, I talked to Jeremy Watt, not about a piece of writing, but something bigger: a brand he started called Province of Canada. This clothing line has gotten a lot of buzz, and because I know Jeremy is a huge fan of sports and design, I asked him a couple questions about the intersection of the two.
Sports and design intersect a lot, sometimes not for the best. What do you think about sports design in the present, and where can improvements be made?
Like a lot of industries, sports teams are still recovering from the graphic design sins of the 1990’s and early 2000’s: bevels, drop shadows, horrible type, overstyled illustrations of animals and vibrant colors just because.
In the near future, I think you’re going to see more established teams revert back to their original logos and jerseys. The more recent teams are going to follow suit and aim for something more classic as well.
The rebranding of the Brooklyn Nets is a good example of an organization that wanted to build a brand for the long term. You can bet Brooklyn had the identity systems of the Lakers and Celtics on their whiteboard when they were crafting their new look.
Speaking of the Celtics, they just announced a new alternate logo. It looks like The Open Championship logo but it works. Anytime you respect the past with a clean and modern aesthetic, you’re going to end up with a good design.
Is there one sports team whose overall design really stands out to you?
It’s hard to argue against the New York Yankees when it comes to design. Today, I realized that their grey uniforms influenced my brand’s logo and I didn’t even know it. That’s powerful stuff right there.
Everything from the logo to the uniforms, they just do things right.
Three colors (one of which is white), simple but classic details and the discipline to avoid any current design trend. Good design is eliminating the unnecessary. It’s difficult to emulate good design but it surprises me that more teams don’t look to the Yankees as a template.
If you could assemble a dream team to overhaul the jersey designs of one league, which league would that be and who would be on your team?
If there’s one league that needs a complete overhaul it’s definitely the NBA. My team would comprise of the following people:
Frank Chimero would be in charge of type and illustration. He would be the John Stockton of my team. Chimero is the author of The Shape of Design and is the definition of a designer.
My director of fit would be Virgil Abloh. He’s Magic Johnson. Virgil just gets it. His brand, Off-White, is all about nowness. He knows how things should look and how they should be cut.
The head of vibe on this dream team would be Justin Saunders. He’s Larry Bird. Aesthetics are important and you always need someone from Montreal on your team.
Kanye West would be my creative director. He’s Michael Jordan. Kanye works for Adidas now, how could I not include him?
I’d also have Tinker Hatfield as my art and architecture director. I’m sure there’s some tension between Tinker and Kanye. Every great team needs tension. It elevates egos and tees up greatness. Plus he knows a thing or two about shoes. He’s my Charles Barkley.
And lastly, Anna Wintour is my stylist and league liaison because she hangs out with the players a lot.
Tell me about the genesis of your brand, Province of Canada.
I’ve been working on Province of Canada without knowing it since 2001. I’ve always had a burning passion to build my own brand. Design school poured gasoline on that passion. It took ten years of side projects, ideas, work experience and Moleskines to realize that this name and this brand is what I should put all my energy into.
I really don’t think I could have created Province of Canada any sooner in my life. The brand is an amalgamation of every place and thing that I’ve interacted it.
Is the Canadian theme of the brand important to you?
The Canadian thing is less a theme and more a way of life.
Inspirations run from the deep and obscure to the obvious and cliche. You know those beach communities that you vacation at, they all have their token tourist trap shop that stock insert beach name hoodies. That inspires us.
Club Monaco influences us daily. There’s a hint of streetwear in there somewhere. The coast, Drake, current Canadian culture, Steve Nash. That sweatshirt that you wear in the city on a Friday that transitions to the cottage at night. That’s who we want to be.
That’s what we’re working on next, getting the word out about who we are and the void we want to fill in your life.
Hoodies and sweatpants are coming before the fall. Once we have a more complete product line, I think folks will have a better understanding of what the brand is all about. That’s the short term goal.
Long-term goal: outfitting team Canada at the 2024 Winter Olympics. 24 is my favorite number.