By: Razan Samara

O’s Clothes is changing the face of Hamilton retail with its famous and unique clothing series inspired by street signs and cityscape. With strong ties to the local art scene, O’s Clothes collaborations and personal creations take a refreshing look at street style.

Oliver Knutton has made Hamilton his home for 20 years and started out in the creative community while working for Sonic Unyon Records.

Upon noticing a gap in men’s streetwear in 2012, he transferred his passion for music to art and fashion, and O’s Clothes was born.

Located downtown on James St. N, O’s Clothes incorporates Hamilton’s charm, Knutton’s personal style, brands from all over the world, as well as showcasing unique pieces inspired by the cityscape and arts community.

“There is a certain speed to Hamilton. I think the architecture mixed with the people, mixed with the cityscape, it’s all a part of [what inspires my designs],” said Knutton.

“My most famous design is the ‘HamOnt’ design, it’s a concept I came up with a few years ago… I got my friend Kyle Stewart [to design it], and he executed [my vision] perfectly.”

Recently, Knutton has been working on a clothing series inspired by local signage, which he refers to as incidental art.

“It might not be perceived as art, but I find that we are surrounded by art every day, and it’s just a matter of finding it and seeking it out. It doesn’t have to be in a gallery, it could be graffiti, it could be a sign, it could be whatever,” explained Knutton.

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-5-06-12-pmKnutton’s first design was inspired by a Chinese BBQ sign located on Cannon St, and his second was a ‘Subs’ shirt based off of a giant sign next to a convenience store near Victoria Park.

“I sent my friends over to the convenience store with a camera and a few shirts on and they were taking pictures in front of the [SUBS sign], and the guy in the store was very confused. [They explained that] the shirt [was based off of the] sign and he was just confused by it. He [said] ‘it’s fine, do what you want, but I don’t understand why you would make a t-shirt out of this sign.’”

Another shirt and patch design was inspired by a makeshift dead end sign that Knutton stumbled upon on Bay St. N and Ferrie St. W.

“From what I can tell, it was a sign that was made by the people on the street, it was a blank sign, and it was a dead end, but maybe they couldn’t get the city to designate it as a dead end. So they basically took makeshift letters and just stuck ‘dead end’ in this really ramshackle way. It just looks so unofficial and yet it is declaring something very official.”

Knutton has his eye on a neon “pho” sign that could be inspiration for his next design.

Knutton has a lot of love for his city and even worked with Rebecca Duyzer to design a ‘J’aime Hamilton shirt, but Knutton doesn’t want to subscribe to blind city patriotism.

“There are other things to expose people to rather than just Hamilton is great. Why is Hamilton great? Hamilton is great for many reasons, and I just try to bring those elements into wearable things. You don’t have to wear the J’aime Hamilton shirt, you can wear the Subs shirt, and still exude pride for your city,” explained Knutton.

Aside from local signage, O’s Clothes strives to be a reflection of the city by providing unique and diverse selection. From Swedish dresses to traditional plaid shirts and t-shirts displaying the work of local artist such as Gord Bond, Knutton selectively curates his selection by pairing different styles together.

As clothing retailers are continuing to be challenged by the sheer convenience and amount of options available online, Knutton hopes that he can continue to make O’s a unique part of the James St. N community.

“I’m going to evolve the layout of the store as the years go on and offer products that I create or come up with [through collaborations] with artists, making [O’s Clothes] more of a destination,” explained Knutton.

“I hope to evolve the store aesthetically in a way [that people ask each other] ‘oh did you see what O’s looks like now?’”

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