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Mark Johnson / Kovalum Interview



Name: Mark Johnson

Brand Name: Kovalum

Occupation: Founder

For a review of Kovalum follow this link – Kovalum Review


What is your Brand Identity / company ethos in a nutshell?  

Kovalum is Indian inspired but Canadian made.  Casual but clean.  We take our name from the legendary beach at the southern tip of India.

What is your Style?  

Kovalum produces casual but crisp, high quality clothes for men and women.  For guys, I think it’s possible for men to be fashionable but still be masculine.  We’d like to capture that sweet spot for men. You can look good and be stylish without compromising your sense of masculinity.  I think most men think that they sacrifice masculinity if they dress fashionably.  That’s incorrect. You can be casual and comfortable but not look sloppy.

What makes you stand out from other brands? 

We took a few good ideas from India and mashed them with Canadian quality to produce our line of madras jackets, shirts, bamboo polo’s and t-shirts.  I think there’s an authenticity and a back-story to Kovalum that may be missing in the today’s mainline brands.  I think people want some authenticity and independence.

Is there a designer you are inspired by?  No one designer but I’ve always been inspired by designers who produce clothes that look stylish without looking over the top.  Subtle style.  Leading edge but not over the edge.

What would you say is the ultimate wardrobe must have and why? 

For guys, it’s a well-proportioned, properly fitted white dress shirt.  It goes with a suit and jeans and even shorts.  It’s very versatile.   Ditch the baggy, billowy shirt that makes you look like a kindergarten kid ready to do finger-painting.  For women, I like nice fitting t-shirts that emphasize the feminine physique – In a subtle, not slutty, way.

What is the worst fashion faux pas you have seen to date? 

Guys, turn the baseball caps around!  Better yet, get rid of them unless you’re playing a sport in the sun. Girls, get rid of the nose rings.  Do I sound like an old geezer?  I hope not.

What is your favourite fashion quote?

“A man should look as if he bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on and then forgotten all about them.”-Sir Hardy Amies. I like this.  I think it also applies to women. Look good but don’t look like you tried too hard.

Tell me a personal fashion related story…

I’m a corporate lawyer who’s new to this business.  It has been an incredibly steep learning curve that has activated a completely different part of my brain.  I’ve made lots of mistakes but it has been fun every step of the way.   As I started this business and travelled around town to meet various people to get Kovalum off the ground, you should have seen the look on people’s faces when I showed up in my suit and tie, telling people my story.  People would look up from their machines at me with strange looks that screamed “Who is this guy?!”  They were nice and gracious but they thought I was nuts to get into the rag trade.  My law buddies even more so.  They still think I’m nuts.


By James Gulliver

Contact – menswear@fashioncapital.co.uk