This week, we sat down with Ayaz Raja, Founder and Creative Director over at Adesso Man to explore where men's culture has come in the recent decade, and where he sees the future of the culture.
Q: Who are you guys? Why did you start Adesso?
Adesso is a Canadian men’s lifestyle brand that specializes in unique and functional products, characterized by bold colours and European inspired designs. Our purpose and mission is to help men feel more confident through style and personal care - we not only want men to look good, but also feel good.
We started Adesso because we recognized there was a niche, and a need in the market for an affordable line of accessories, that are also of premium quality.
We were all students and young professionals when we started, so needing to spend a couple of hundred dollars to look fashionable and trendy was not easily attainable. There wasn’t a store that targeted us, the average Joe. We wanted to provide products that would help boost the confidence of our customers, but also provide these niche European-styled products that would help make a lasting first impression.
Our brand has evolved quite a bit from when we started. We've grown from being an accessory shop, to a full men’s lifestyle brand that caters to not only fashion accessories, but to leather goods, grooming products, gifts and apparel.
What are some of the major trends that you guys have seen in how men see themselves and others since 2010?
We feel that men have become more comfortable, and knowledgeable regarding their own self-care. Social media has really changed the overall outlook of how men should see themselves.
Men seeing other men take care of themselves in ways that are not traditional have made them more comfortable because they feel less judged or isolated. It’s the new normal. Some major trends specifically are grooming - investing in a good haircut has led the way to men feeling more confident. Taking care of your beard, and skin has also become very popular in the last few years.
Here are a few other trends that we were excited to see:
- Men are less shy and want to express themselves.
- Being bold is fashionable - Funky socks became popular, and brighter colours are much more accepted.
- Men also want things to be more custom so that can show off their individuality - you see the rise of more custom clothing and customizable options.
- At the same time, men are a lot more conscious of what other people think - and have started putting more effort into presentation. This could just be superficial, or could mean that men are lot more insecure now, and worry about their perception and image.
What are some outdated stereotypes and behaviors that you guys are not going to miss about men’s culture?
There are a few that stand out for me right away, but the other guys at Adesso also had some great ones. These are the things that we're glad to see go:
- Wearing vibrant colours, and being fashionably trendy making you not masculine.
- Personal grooming being frowned upon (Taking care of your skin, eyebrows, haircut, etc)
- Not wearing a well tailored suit - FIT is everything when it comes to dressing up. Men really care about their suits now, and aren’t just going for the first available suit they see on the rack
Do you guys have any core beliefs that have stood the test of time? Mantras or ways of living that never go out of style?
Here are our values that we try to live and breathe by:
- Be the best, and stay humble. Push for excellence, but don’t be a dick.
- Be honest, and be real. With everyone, friends, family, peers. In our case, being real with our customers, instead of sales-y, is a signature.
- Be open and welcoming. Leave an impression. Be the person people like to talk to; Approachable and personable.
- Be a learner. Never stop learning, always better yourself. Self improvement leads to success.
- Be a dreamer. Be creative and use your imagination.
To you, what are the biggest challenges that face people who want to “go against the grain” when it comes to their lifestyle choices, etc?
(What is holding us back from being our best selves?)
Insecurities, and judgements from your peers and the public. We find that people put too much emphasis on what people are going to think about them, which restricts them from being confident and achieving happiness.
People are still living inside societal norms, and it’s hard for people to jump out of them. It’s gotten a lot of better over the past years though, especially because of social media and the wide range of influences it exposes us to.
Here are a couple more:
- The People you surround yourself with - how supportive they are or willing they are to accept you for you.
- The country and culture you live in- more conservative societies are less accepting of change or lifestyles that go against traditions or cultural norms/religious beliefs.
- Too many voices - everyone has a voice now and anyone can say and do what they want - which can be counterproductive because if you are wanting to do something that people don’t like, you can face criticism from more voices. Take the time to weed out the noise from people whose opinions matter less to you.
What is some advice that you can give to people who are exploring their core beliefs and personal style/ethos?
You don’t want to look back in your life and have any regrets. Go out and explore your personal style, and live by your beliefs. Don’t be one of the many who let the normality of society restrict them from living the best, crazy version of themselves.
- Your beliefs, style and ethos should change over time, so don't need to really get too worked up about those changes coming and going.
- I think if anyone should strive for anything, it should be to be a better person or the truest version of yourself. At the end of the day that’s all that matters.
- Don’t follow, or believe, or adopt views to feed your ego - Ego will be the death of you. Once you fall into the trap of superficial things, and being seen or noticed just for attention, your motivation to be true to who you want to be is not pure.
Would you mind giving us some idea of what goes into each of your own core beliefs and lifestyle?
We all have this drive in us that makes us want to make a difference in the lives of others. It motivates us to do what we are doing today - to build confidence in our clients, and to provide the very best of the best. We want to set an example through our day to day lives, and are always trying to become the best version of ourselves.
- Be as selfless as you can. Live to serve others and make a real difference in the world.
- Always be humble. There will always be someone better than you, so don’t let success get to your head.
- Learn as much as possible. Knowledge is power.
- Be patient. Good things always come to people who wait.
- Solve problems by being innovative and forward thinking.
- Be a team player - help people, support one another, be at home or at work.
- Live within your means - too much of anything is not good. Don’t take on more than you can chew with your goals, and try not to waste things.