Shane Vitaly Foran, CEO and designer of Vitaly, talks business, tattoos, and travel essentials with Inked.
How does an accidental fashion designer of only four years retail his unisex jewelry line in over 200 stores worldwide without big investors? Shane Vitaly Foran dismisses the idea that travel is key to every fashion brand’s success–with the exception of his. The Toronto native credits Vitaly’s wins to both the support of his friends and exploring the world.
Foran told Inked, “Vitaly is designed with our friends in mind.” The designer sources materials found on the road and compliments it with the friendships he has built over a lifetime to create jewelry and apparel for men and women. He says, “[Travel is] especially important for me because I can physically select and source my materials and do in-person quality control.”
Four years ago Foran designed his first-ever two-finger ring during a trip to Bali. After showing the ring to friends, their support encouraged him to use his business smarts to pursue a career in fashion. The entrepreneur kissed his nine-to-five goodbye and threw his energy into Vitaly full time.
In an industry that caters to accessorizing women, developing a jewelry line for men was not an easy task. Still, Vitaly’s rings, pendants, and bracelets (crafted with ceramic, wood, and stainless steel), became a staple in the wardrobes of millennial males. Aside from affordability–prices range anywhere from $25 to $100 for most products–Foran says tattoos have a lot to do with men taking up the trend. “I’d always found tattoo and alternative cultures to be more comfortable adopting something ‘different’ early on,” he says. “Throw a ring and pendant on a huge bearded guy who also has tattoos and all of the sudden men see anyone can wear it.”
Tattoos are more than a marketing scheme for Vitaly, “They’re a huge part of mine and my friends’ lifestyles,” Foran explains. “[Tattoos] help keep the brand authentic to us so we continue to like what we do. There are also references to music, action sports, and photography–all of which are passions of my team and I.”
Ink didn’t start to cover Foran’s skin until his 18th birthday, “I couldn’t find any artist that would tattoo me when I was younger. They kept turning down my ID that said I was 25… go figure!” Now, he has been tattooed all over the world but his go-to tattooists are Mike Storey of Black Pearl Toronto and Chino of Black Widow Tattoo.
Foran’s plan to dress the world in modern design is in action as Vitaly’s continued success in more than seven countries has sent the team on an eight-month journey abroad for both work and play. Their first stop: Stockholm, Sweden. Foran says, “My business partner [Jason Readman], creative director [Zack Vitiello], and I actually gave up our homes, got rid of most of our possessions, and put what little we kept in storage.”
The infamous Vitaly Boys (minus Michael Andrews) will meet with distributors throughout Europe, Australia, Asia and elsewhere to build the brand. “We want to see our products on people when we walk down the streets of Toronto, New York, Paris, Stockholm, Singapore–any city in the world.”
Vitaly will be releasing a line of watches in November and December–just in time for the holidays. “I’ve always been obsessed with clocks,” Foran says. “I actually have six clocks tattooed on me.” The new collections will be available on vitalydesign.com.
Check out Shane Vitaly Foran’s travel essentials in the gallery below.