Western’s clothing scene features some of the most creative designs that any of us have seen. Sharp flashes of colour on a black hoodie create a contrast like a streetlight illuminating a dark street.
Jack Riley, a second-year BMOS student has recently thrown his name into the thread game under the brand Lightning Love. Through a Los Angeles-inspired aesthetic, Riley has cultivated a brand that aims to put the idea of having feelings for someone on a T-shirt.
Riley started his journey when he ended up in a media arts course because of a scheduling conflict in high school. After becoming a Photoshop savant, the rest came easily.
“That was the first puzzle piece towards gaining expertise in designing in Photoshop," explains Riley.
"The passion came together mid-way through high school and ever since then I’ve been very involved in it.”
Riley then went on to reach out personally to smaller brands as a freelance designer, honing his craft every day and setting certain pieces aside for himself. Starting his own brand was always in his head, and after amalgamating enough designs he felt were special, Riley got to work on bringing it to life.
“As I sort of worked with more and more brands, a lot of them were very early-stage brands, and it allowed me to get super familiar with them," explained Riley. "The people working there would fill me in on how it’s done, and I then knew I had the skills and knowledge to pursue my own label. It was a scary thought but it was always there.”
City lights and late nights seem to be the main thing on Riley’s mind when it comes to creating the next chapter of the Lightning Love collection.
He primarily aims to reflect the balance needed to have private tendencies in a world where a camera flash is commonplace in a coveted celebrity lifestyle. The name itself is meant to encapsulate that vision.
“The name 'lightning' stands for camera flashes, and the 'love' comes from the affection involved in a relationship. It captures that aesthetic that I’m very drawn towards. Going forward, all the pieces are meant to live up to that.”
The process of creating these pieces isn’t as easy as you’d think.
While at times, 30 minutes is enough to get a design onto a shirt, it is the curation process that takes the most time, as sending a single message with multiple designs becomes tricky. It sounds like a lot of work, but Riley says he doesn’t feel the pressure.
“I would say that my favourite part about all this is that I’ve never worked as a designer in any form of formal design," he explains.
"Never coming from a creative background, there’s nothing for me to lose, so I feel no pressure in terms of applying any design principles that have or haven’t been taught to me," says Riley.
He credits The Weeknd and Travis Scott as his primary influences in bridging the gap between late nights in Toronto and the celebrity-fueled coastal landscape of Los Angeles, respectively. After seeing the two of them perform together, he realized that the two cities and the designs they inspire are worth wearing.