The Boys on Deck
The Viau men form their own creative class: Michel, the 61-year-old founder of design and strategy firm Ove, and his sons Guillaume, 28, and Alex, 31, collaborate on a casual clothing line, the Daily News Project
Our workwear philosophies
Michel: I live on a sailboat six months of the year, which drives what I wear—I don’t have a massive closet on the boat—and I’m way more casual than I’ve ever been. But I might be called into a board meeting, and you have to be conscious of who will be in the room. Then again, when you’re the creative type, people don’t expect you to be wearing the grey pinstripe, typical Bay Street look. Guillaume: I’m a DJ as well as a designer, and when I play a show I like to express a sense of style and creativity. A full suit to go play an event isn’t exactly me. If I’m wearing a suit, I’ll wear it with sneakers, like a pair of white Converse, but I make sure they’re super-clean.
Our guiding style principles
Michel: My two favourite words when these guys were growing up were “understated elegance.” We’re not extremely fashion conscious, but we do dress for the occasion. First and foremost, I have to be comfortable. I’m into what makes you who you are, and what makes you comfortable regardless of the event or situation. Alex: Make an effort. You can be wearing anything as long as you’ve made an effort to put it together. Guillaume: When you spend a lot of money on an outfit, it’s easy to look good and get noticed, but I’d rather be the guy in the room who looks as good as everyone else without wearing that $3,000 jacket. I like to do it my own way.
What inspires our style
Michel: I’m a product of the ’70s—Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Grace Jones. You can imagine the excitement at that time. The world of fashion was exploding in those years. You had the classics like Perry Ellis and Armani mixed with younger designers like Ralph Lauren, who was very much the American classic but with a little spark. Guillaume: My brother and I have both been tremendously influenced by our dad. When I was at Brock University, I used to drive all the way home from St. Catharines just to pick up one of Dad’s suits.
How we dress down
Michel: Ninety per cent of the time I wear G-Star jeans. I have every shade and colour—that’s my go-to thing. I’m a Calvin Klein white T-shirt guy and there will be a sport jacket on top. I love cashmere. There’s one expensive cashmere purchase per year. Guillaume: The other day, I wore a grey sweatsuit on a flight. If you do that, you can’t wear a grungy pair of shoes. I was wearing new shoes and the lady next to me said, “What do you do? You look so cool!” I was like, this is a $40 sweatsuit from H&M. It’s about how you’re wearing it.
How we travel in style
Alex: We were fortunate in that we were be able to travel as kids and as teenagers. When you go to Italy at age 14, you look at other kids and think, what are we wearing? Guillaume: When we were in high school, Alex and I were skiing competitively, travelling three months out of the school year. We’d buy things all over so when we’d come back we’d stand out, which can be both good and bad. Alex: I lived in Melbourne for almost two years, and that was a bit of a shift. I picked up wearing Chelsea boots, tight jeans and a looser button up. It helps me feel comfortable while integrating into a new environment. I analyze the scene a little bit and then I adapt. It’s important to have your own style, but it’s also good to adapt to your environment—to be flexible and try different things.