Occupation: Artist, Photographer, Fashion Blogger
City: Toronto, Canada
SPIRO: I've been painting on and off for a very long time. My oil paintings are a celebration of the diverse beauty of urban landscapes from around the world. These places are so amazing that they inspire and motivate me to paint.
FASHION STUDIO: What inspired you to start painting?
|Greek Foto Week 2011|
FASHION STUDIO: How would you describe your style?
SPIRO: My style is a contemporary version of late 19th century expressionism. Some compare it to Van Gogh, but I think that's just because it's the only other expressionist painter they know of.
FASHION STUDIO: What is “fashion” for you?
SPIRO: I see fashion as an industry. An industry made up of designers, ateliers, models, make-up artists, photographers, media, and PR working together to create and bring beautiful apparel and accessories to the masses.
FASHION STUDIO: Who is your favourite fashion designer and why?
SPIRO: People ask me that and the answer isn't that simple. There is a long list of designers that I love, but I classify 'favourites' by collections, not designers. DSquared2 is a great example of guys that produced a brilliant Men's SS11 Collection that I thought was one of the best of the season. Fast forward to their FW11 Collection with the aprons and Mennonite hats and I can't say that I feel the same way. It's in constant flux.
FASHION STUDIO: And a fashion icon?
SPIRO: My style icons include the Duke of Windsor/King Edward VIII, Lapo Elkann, and Yves Saint Laurent. Nick Wooster is another great one.
FASHION STUDIO: When did you start your blog? What is your ultimate goal in writing about fashion and setting up a blog?
SPIRO: I started my blog in October 2010. My goal has been to cover style from a guy's perspective with a focus on men's fashion and design, as well as key events throughout the city.
FASHION STUDIO: Tell us something about your photography... What is your favourite genre and how did you start?
SPIRO: My photography was an offshoot of my painting. The focus is primarily on candid street photography and my influences are very similar to my paintings. There are many elements that I bring to photography from what I've learned in painting over the years and vice versa.
|NYFW; Photo by Spiro Mandylor|
FASHION STUDIO: Do you remember your first camera?
SPIRO: Vaguely. It was a cheap point and shoot that I bought as a kid. My dad has a killer Voigtländer that I've been trying to steal from him since I was a kid. My first really good camera was my Nikon N80 35mm. I've used a variety of lenses from Nikkors to Tamrons since 2004 and can honestly tell you that for me, nothing beats film. I wish I could shoot everything on film only. I love it. For events and fashion shows I now use a Nikon CoolPix P7000. Like a Canon G12, it's small, takes great pics for the blog and shoots great HD 720p. Why bother with a digital SLR if this little guy does the trick?
FASHION STUDIO: How did you get involved in the Greek Photography Week in Toronto?
SPIRO: Through Lee Polydor, owner of the Burroughes Building. I met him at the Philip Sparks fashion show and we got to talking about having me submit some work to the curator of Greek Foto Week as part of a group exhibit sponsored by the Greek American Foundation. My first time actually showing my photography and at Scotiabank CONTACT no less. Very cool.
FASHION STUDIO: What useful tips could you give to other fashion bloggers? What do you find most important if you want to get your blog noticed?
SPIRO: The single most important tip that I would and have given to fashion bloggers is to carve out a niche for themselves. A blog about fashion doesn't cut it. Focus on a niche like footwear, accessories, jewellery, or something like that and stick with it. I recently ran into a blog that visits socialites and celebrities' homes to scope out and photograph their wardrobes. It's fashion, but something niche, something different. Those are often the most successful. Also, go for original content. I don't want to visit a blog that recaps what Vogue just wrote. If I want to know what Vogue thinks, I'll read Vogue. Create your own copy and photography using your own voice.
FASHION STUDIO: Do you collaborate with many people?
SPIRO: I don't collaborate. Not that I don't want to, I just find Torontonians very flaky. Their commitment level is so blasé. I don't like working like that.
FASHION STUDIO: What do you consider your biggest achievement so far?
SPIRO: My biggest achievement? I'm very proud of collaborating with some famous architects to design and open a club in South America. That was in my 20s. Managing the international marketing division of a medical device company out of London, UK for two years was also a big deal. Every time I sell a painting or photograph, I consider it an accomplishment. The blog is still in its infancy, but I'm excited about its potential and enjoying the journey.
FASHION STUDIO: And the biggest challenge?
SPIRO: One of my biggest challenges has been building the It's All Style To Me blog using very limited resources. I've taken a huge gamble by temporarily abandoning 9-to-5 and focusing on this venture full-time.
|LG Toronto Fashion Week; Photo by Spiro Mandylor|
FASHION STUDIO: How would you describe “Canadian street style”? How do people dress in Toronto?
SPIRO: When you think of the Greater Toronto Area as a whole, our street style scene is very conservative. We have such great local designers, but few of us take advantage of them. Buyers pick up some great stuff from international designers that too often end up at end-of-season clearance sales because people here don't want to get out of their puritanical comfort zone. There are pockets, mainly in the downtown core, where the fashion scene flourishes. Sadly, this is a very small minority. My challenge is to get men excited about fashion and keep them current on what the biggest trends are. By following my blog, I hope that they'll feel less intimidated by fashion.
FASHION STUDIO: What is your life philosophy?
SPIRO: My philosophy is that life is like a casino, the game is ultimately rigged. For most, the American dream is a carrot on the end of a very long stick. The vast majority of us kill ourselves, we sacrifice friends, relationships, families, everything that matters most to make someone else rich. Capitalism turned corporatism run amok. I've met so many people who say they work hard and play hard. That's never the case. Watching TV doesn't count as 'playing'. Live for today, enjoy life now because tomorrow is never guaranteed.
FASHION STUDIO: What makes you happy?
SPIRO: I love traveling. The world is bigger than it's ever been and at the same time more connected. Exploring various cultures with so many web-based resources to get deals on flights and accommodations is amazing. Travel inspires me on so many levels. Forget Miami, Ibiza, and Cancun. They're nice, but played out. I'm always looking ahead to the next big thing.
FASHION STUDIO: Which city do you consider the fashion capital of the world and why?
SPIRO: That would depend on whether the fashion capital is the place that manufactures the most fashion, has the most fashion available to its residents, or the most fashionablepeople. Hard to nail down one, but you probably already know who's in the short list.
FASHION STUDIO: You travel often to New York. What is the difference between fashion markets here in Toronto and in NYC?
SPIRO: NYC is a lot more diverse and there's a lot more selection. Their fashion industry eclipses Toronto's and the people aren't all trying to look like one another. It's like comparing apples to oranges.
SPIRO: I love today's models, but I think that they're a bit too skinny and maybe even a bit too young. They have an innocence and purity that I find beautiful. I was never one for vampy Pamela Anderson pin-ups, tattooed/pierced bad asses, or androgynous women. My favourite supermodel of all time is and always will be Cindy Crawford.
FASHION STUDIO: What projects are you currently working on?
SPIRO: I'm pretty focused on my blog and trying to find ways to monetize it so that I can offer my readers even more. I've enjoyed doing product reviews and giveaways and hope to do many more. It's a great way of paying my readers back for their continued support.
FASHION STUDIO: How do you find time for all the things that you do – painting, photography, writing, attending all the fashion shows and events?
SPIRO: Time is definitely an issue. I have been overdoing it and hope to bring on some interns to help out with the photography and maybe even some of the writing. In addition to the art, photography and blogging, I've picked up a few marketing courses at UofT which is killing me. Unlike a lot of other bloggers, I'm trying to be very selective about the events I cover. This way you know you're getting coverage of only the best.
FASHION STUDIO: You meet a lot of celebrities and industry professional. Which meeting has been most memorable so far?
SPIRO: There have been a few but I liked meeting Gael Garcia Bernal in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was there for a movie or function and we were staying at the same hotel. In addition to admiring this guy for being one of the best actors of our generation, I had some good laughs with him and his buddy. I wanted to take some pics of the two of us before I left. He grabbed my Blackberry, opened it up and cleaned the dust out of the inside with his T-shirt making sure we'd get clear pics. I was sitting there thinking, this guy has been in six Academy Award nominated films and he's cleaning the inside of my Blackberry and shooting the shit with me? What a cool guy!
I also had an insane night out on the town here in Toronto with football legend Marcus Allen ten years ago. He swore I was the craziest guy he'd ever met. About the same time, I partied at some club in Rio with Perry Farrell and another one of the guys from Jane's Addiction. Good times hitting on girls with Dan Akroyd and hanging out one night with Mark Wahlberg - both at Toronto's Shark City. I miss the 1990s. Everything is so different now.
FASHION STUDIO: What are your future plans?
SPIRO: Keep at it. Try to get some sponsors or investors on board so that I can get out to more international fashion events and shows. Look for other traditional opportunities in the fashion and social media industries. Work on collaborations.
By Eva Fydrych
Visit Spiro's official website: www.spiro.ca