Q&A: Jay Manuel Talks About His Sears Line

The America’s Next Top Model star unveils his new line as Creative Director for Attitude by Sears Canada

Q: What inspired you to start designing?
A: “I have thought about it for a long period of time. My grandfather was a tailor, so watching him work and craft of it has always been really inspiring to me. Every year on my birthday I would get a brand new suit, and it was a big thing. I’ve had the amazing opportunity to work with some incredible designers and creative visionaries on campaigns and images well before I was even doing any of the television stuff.  It’s something I definitely wanted to expand into for a while.”

Q: What appealed to you about working with Sears Canada?
A: “There were other opportunities, but when Sears Canada came to me it was just the right synergy and there was a bit of nostalgia – you grow up going to Sears. They started Attitude two years ago, but they were looking for someone to bring a brand identity to it so it’s not just the look and feel of the clothing, but the imagery and marketing. With my background and expertise , it just seemed like the right fit. And coming home to Canada to do it – I’m really lucky.”

Q: What is your vision for the line?
A: “My vision initially is that girl that you see walking down the street, you know, that power woman. But I know so many women who are working moms or just moms and they are just as powerful. I wanted to make sure that the brand represented all of them.”

Q: How would you describe the first collection?
A: “Classic pieces, but I put my own spin on it so people could see a very different perspective of how they work. But classics are classics – it’s how you reinvent them: with fabrics, details and lines. I really love the late ‘60s silhouettes and I love the ‘70s, so to see how much everyone is so embedded in the ‘70s this season, I’m like phew! We also have a huge pant program – and you’ll see there are different widths of the flare. That’s the most universally flattering shape for women. I was just so over the skinny. I did a skinny cargo – I just didn’t do the regular skinny.”

Q: You are originally from Toronto. What’s the best part about working in Canada again?
A: “I have worked all over the world in high-pressure situations for huge designers and it never bothered me. There’s something about coming back here, showing at LG Fashion Week, because I always remember the very first. I am overseeing every detail and driving everybody crazy!”