Peer Portraits: Davidson Manaloto, Wonders
We originally met Davidson as a part of ‘Team Canada’, the unofficial group of Canadians that are magnetically drawn together while abroad. We met at Paris Fashion Week a few years ago and built a friendship over skateboarding, fashion and food. Davidson is the talented co-founder of Wonders and a friend of HNDSM.
You have had some really interesting professional experiences. Can you tell us a bit about your transition from school into fashion and what came next?
I grew up under the impression that I would always be an engineer. So, after high school I attended University and got my BSc in Mechanical Engineering, which to this day is still one of my proudest achievements. After working in R&D at the biggest gas transmissions companies in the world, I really felt unfulfilled. My Lolo (grandpa) was a tailor and my dad would always make my sisters and I custom things like baseball bags, so creating things was always around. I started with a jacket and bag, which were horrible but they ended up getting me into a fashion program in Vancouver. It was an accelerated program and if I didn’t enjoy it I could always just go back to Engineering. Well, the rest is history. After school I ended up getting recommended for an internship at a women’s wear company called Lily+Jae. The owner and designer was friends with the designer at wings+horns and I expressed my interest to work there. At the time it didn’t work out and I ended up going to the Philippines, where I worked with a tailor, as well as womenswear designer. When I came back to Vancouver the designer at wings was leaving and he recommended me for the job. I worked almost 4 years as the head designer there and while I was at an event in Toronto I met my current partner. She was looking for a new designer at Marc Ecko Cut & Sew in New York and I wanted to move to NYC. I worked there for almost a year and they decided not to renew their licence, so I ended up interviewing with a bunch of brands in NYC. A few months after, my now partner suggested we start our own brand and that’s when Wonders was born. Wonders has been one of the hardest things that I have done but I have learned so much and still have so much to learn. It has also helped me to find myself and my design language which to be truthful, I still am working on. One thing I have learned from all of this has been that if you know what you want don’t be embarrassed to tell people.
What inspires your 1 of 1 creations. Can you walk us through your process?
I originally started to do these custom pieces to try out new things. They are things that I always wanted but realized I could make myself. I am a huge fan of a lot of different brands and different aesthetics, so its been really nice to be able to explore these through my projects. I've looked to Vivienne Westwood, Undercover and even Yohji. There really is no end to learning and what a better way to learn than to study from the greats. Show Studio does this thing where they open source a designers pattern and see what people can do. I always thought that was a great idea.
You’re an avid collector. Sneakers, fashion and otherwise. What are a couple of your favorite pieces in your collection? Anything special that you’re hoping to find?
I don’t know if I would be considered a collector, I've always just bought what I liked and held on to things. Growing up I always had an appreciation for clothing and shoes and didn’t necessarily have the luxury of buying a lot, so I learned to only buy things I loved and to cherish them. And honestly, a lot of what I buy I still love. Mary Kondo would die if she had to do a show with me. I could justify keeping a pair of socks with holes in them…hahaha. I have so many wants it's crazy. Some I know I will probably never get because the prices are just ridiculous, Nike dunk paris, or floms. I've always searched for that Impossible True Love Prada tote from FW16. I owned it and it was stolen when my car got broken into when I was in SF. With this pandemic Ive been searching for those Samuel Ross Oakley Wind jackets. Louis Vuitton duffles bags, Stephen Sprouse, Murakami, the list goes on. Oh and the cars on that list…geez.
What do you think is the most interesting brand in fashion at this moment?
The most interesting brands are the ones that are so true to themselves. I think fashion has become so commercialized that it has lost its soul. For me, anyone that is creating for the sake of passion and love of design will really be at the core of the revival of fashion. I really like what Kyle Ng is doing at Brain Dead. The energy this guy is putting out right now is amazing. He is doing products like climbing holds, and rollerblades. He’s really unapologetic about what he loves and that’s super admirable.
What do you think is something everyone should experience in their lives?
With everything going on right now, I just wish everyone could experience love, support, and compassion.
Any advice for young creatives in and out of the pandemic?
My advice would be to just create and try different things. Don’t be scared to try new things and don’t worry too much about what others think. Obviously that is easier said than done, and I even have to remind myself of this sometimes. This journey is a life long one and it's important to keep that in perspective. Something you do now doesn’t define who you are or dictate your whole future. Also be nice to everyone and you can make some friends like AJ and Nunu.
What are you most looking forward to post pandemic?
First thing, after I get my vaccine, I am travelling to Calgary to visit my family. I miss my mom and can’t wait to finally meet my niece that was born last June.
Favorite spots in Toronto?
Tandem for coffee, Imanishi for Japanese, Primrose for bagels, Ashbridges skate park for skateboarding, Blondies for pizza, My apartment.