Lifetime Collective: Reid Stewart and Trevor Fleming

There’s no denying the bond between Reid Stewart and Trevor Fleming is like those you see on screen, The Odd Couple, Ocean’s Twelve, you get the point. The cool and laid back duo are the creative behind Lifetime Collective. Fast-track 10 years to today, the collective houses two menswear collections, a women’s line, an in house zine to curating their own shows in music and art. What else could be missing? Possibly a good beer. So pop open a brewski as we get acquainted with the men (and star signs) at Lifetime Collective. Continue…

Carmen Lam: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Trevor Fleming: I’m Trevor, I’m a Virgo.

Reid Stewart: Reid Stewart. Libra.

CL: And I’m an Aries.

TF: Oh, we’re going to get along great.

CL: Did the two of you grow up in Vancouver?

RS: We both grew up in Ontario. We played hockey together and we didn’t know it until years later.

TF: I was born just outside of Toronto, in St. Catherines, it’s really not that exciting to talk about. We gradually migrated from this direction my whole life. Reid and I met in Alberta, actually, in our tweens?

RS: Yeah.

TF: Through mutual friends and through skateboarding. And that’s where it all started. We were always interested in working together. I got out of school and lived in California. I lived and worked there for a couple of years. And Reid was in Calgary, travelling back and forth to Whistler.

RS: I went to school for a business degree. Trevor was working on the dot-com thing in California.

TF: I was riding the wave and that kind of crashed. We finally got together based on our interests in skateboarding, music and art. It was such a great medium to start with. It was a basic t-shirt operation and we got them selling in local skate shops. And working with our network of friends and having them contribute art. It was how it all started, the collective. We knew we wanted to create and curate a family of people who could contribute to this. It wasn’t necessarily going to be a clothing company. We knew we wanted to use clothing as one of the mediums, but we were really interested in exploring other avenues, like our record label, things like that. Clothing was kind of the thing that took off from it. Lots of fun projects come out of it, like videos.

CL: Trevor you went to school for art?

TF: Yeah, I was in graphic design. But I actually got into Flash and web design. I did that for a while, but I also did a lot of print production on the side. So we had the tools coming to the table, but neither one of us were fashion designers. Our biggest strength is bringing a lot of people together to create new and interesting projects. And obviously being able to produce all of our own catalogues in-house is a huge financial saving. In the beginning I did our first four websites and we did all of our own catalogues.

CL: I noticed you started your own zine. Does the company want to venture into print?

TF: Yeah, all aspects of design really and creativity. This is just an amazing tool to expose the people we work with and it’s just a great way to start new relationships with people we haven’t worked with before. And we never look at a giant budget on marketing, so we try to spend our money wisely. So for us to run… how many copies of these do we print?

RS: 10,000.

TF: 10,000 copies that are given free, which is basically the same cost of running one ad in a major publication. We look at it as a great way for us to educate people about the brand, what we’re doing, and the people we work with.

RS: It’s cool. We just had an event at an art gallery in Los Angeles, were we had to bring the zine to life on the walls. And we had one of the bands play – an instrumental blues, surf band. And it felt like you were in the zine. And we’re hoping to do more of that, and put more issues out.

CL: A lot of the bands you feature are they bands you like, or people you’ve just come across?

TF: It’s pretty much the bands that we’re into. It’s weird; we never put anything in there if we’re not into it. We’ll help them get exposure and they’ll contribute to what we’re doing. And round and round we go. It’s a very organic relationship. Which is awesome, because you’re really working with friends. I like that more, than paying someone to be an image for your company, who you don’t have a real relationship with.

CL: Who are you listening to currently?

RS: The Jacuzzi Boys, they’re from Miami. They played this show for us in Long Beach, along with Tijuana Panthers… And have you ever heard of the Bahamas? They’re really good.

CL: It’s the brand’s 10-year anniversary. How did it begin?

RS: The name, it was just something timeless. It encompasses everything that we love. It just transcends over the years.

TF: The name, it’s a great name, and it’s everything we wanted it to be, which is awesome. And then we were like, cool, lets create it on t-shirts. And as we got further down the road the t-shirts started to take off and we actually needed to see if we had rights to the name. We didn’t have the money to do that at first, like pay the money to secure the name, which is what you’re suppose to do, but we never do what we’re suppose to. So naïvely we went into this whole thing and realized we needed to secure this. That was a crazy adventure of its own; we ended up battling a company in Japan who were making bedding. We eventually secured it for North America and Japan.

RS: And the world…pretty much, we got there.

TF: Honesty, I don’t want to say this, but it’s a lot of things we do, we go about it in a naïve way.

RS: But it’s about having that energy to do it than being afraid to, which is a lot of people.

TF: So you learn a lot of things along the way. Did we even answer your question?

RS: Wait, I’m getting there! Ten years and it’s been pretty amazing to meet all these people.

TF: Yeah, our local friend network has become a global network. We never really thought that that would happen.

RS: It’s kind of crazy what we’ve done in 10 years and how it’s progressed.

TF: Yeah, I’m totally ready to retire.

CL: Lifetime’s tagline is “work in progress,” so what do you hope to accomplish in the next 10?

TF: Generally grow and continue into other avenues; maybe in five years, or hopefully less, to open our own retail stores. Where we can really curate what we want.

RS: We just started doing these talks; flying to Montreal, Ottawa or L.A., we give talks to the staff.

TF: Keeping connected with our retailers.

CL: On the topic of curating, what was the last art show you saw?

RS: A friend of mine, John Coupland, in Los Angelas. He’s a painter from Brooklyn. I also saw the Anselm Kiefer show – a German painter – it was really good. It was in San Francisco. There was a 50-foot by 50-foot painting. He was a World War II survivor and his art speaks around that.

CL: Can you reveal where you’ll be shooting the next catalogue?

TF: Haha, I would if I knew the location was solid. I could tell you, but if it’s not there, it’ll be the biggest let down ever.

RS: I’m going to Tofino; I shoot this one (Lifetime Collective Uniform Standard).

T: It’s really cool, ‘cause we design differently. We do our own storyboards, our own collections; it keeps our love affair going much longer.

CL: You guys fight once in while?

TF: Like a 10-year marriage. I win every fight.

RS: For the record, no.

CL: Can you talk about the Fall/Winter 2012 collection and the inspiration behind it.

TF: I feel with this one the Pacific Northwest really creeped in a bit. We wanted to focus on fabrics that can be used in multiple ways, like reversible fabrics and getting multiple colourways.

RS: And we get a lot of comments internationally, that it’s very Vancouver. And the colours are pretty organic. For me the inspirations come from travelling, friends, what they’re wearing and going to events and art shows like that.

TF: Everywhere you go you’re pulling a bit of inspiration from it. Like I’ll be shooting in Iceland and I’ll be looking at dobby patterns, and looking at the bill and I’m finding patterns in the currency. There’s always something that creeps into your life and you’re like “oh, never saw that before.”

CL: How was Iceland?

TF: It was amazing; it was the coldest winter they had in 30 years. I was there at the beginning of December. That was really fun and it changed up the process a little bit. We had it scored by the guy travelling with us. The whole time we were filming the video, he was scoring the video and writing the music. It was an interesting process.

CL: The next few are rapid-fire questions.

TF: Stones or the Beatles?

RS: Is that one of the questions?

CL: What should men have in their closet?

TF: Sweater vest!

RS: Ugh, I was going to say that; a solid flannel shirt.

CL: Indulge in…?

RS: Good beer.

CL: Any in particular?

RS: This one from the Czech Republic.

TF: I really like cooking.

CL: That’s the next venture for you guys, food! Now, if you could be a character in fiction, you’d be?

RS: The Lorax.

TF: Wow! You went straight there, eh? I want to be that weird bald fat guy in Californication, Stephen Tobolowsky. Ha, how inspiring is that?

Interview and image credit: Carmen Lam. Top image (left to right): Trevor Fleming and Reid Stewart.