Designer George Sully On His Work, His Legacy and His Favourite Bottles of The Glenlivet

The Glenlivet & Sharp
George Sully rose to fame by co-founding the sneaker brand Sully Wong, the success of which earned him a place in the Bata Shoe Museum. Recently, however, this Ottawa-born designer has diversified his creative endeavours in multiple directions, designing the new Starfleet Boot for Star Trek: Discovery, founding the accessories brand Sully & Son Co., co-founding the women’s vegan footwear brand House of Hayla and promoting up and coming talent through the nonprofit Black Designers of Canada foundation. We spoke to Sully about his work, his legacy and his favourite bottles of The Glenlivet.

What makes Sully & Son Co. a unique brand in the fashion space?
The purpose for creating Sully & Son Co. was simple: take everything that I’ve learned thus far in the fashion industry that worked, and deliver it as a product. This assured my core customers local and abroad the best accessory products I’ve ever created!

What unconventional qualities do you bring to the table as a designer?
I was self-taught, therefore I’ve never followed the conventional cookie-cutter route. I wake up in the morning and start the day by going against every fashion rule set by god-knows-who. That makes for fresh, out-of-the-box ideas every time. Much like how The Glenlivet gets its unique character from its location in the Livet valley, my iconoclastic approach makes my work stand out from other designers.

What are some of the stereotypes that you encounter in your work, and how do you combat them?
As a Black designer, the stereotype is often that we stop at athleisure and nothing more, which can’t be further from the truth. Our DNA can be found in every corner and crevice of high fashion, haute couture, modern contemporary, avant-garde and whatever else you can think of. It’s a lot like how whisky, and especially single malt whisky, is associated with a very specific segment of the population, but the people who enjoy it are far more diverse.

What’s the objective of your work with Black Designers of Canada?
The reason for creating Black Designers of Canada was pretty simple: for far too long the Black community has been marginalized when it comes to fashion and our contributions to it. So, I created a platform to lessen the excuses often used by the industry, like Black designers are not up to snuff, or are underdeveloped, or don’t exist at all. The difference today, more than any other time in our history, is that our fellow Canadians agree and are owning up to systemic racism in our country. Like ourselves, they want to see change. This is why something like BDC can work. To get equal footing, we’ll need equal participation.

How do you like your Glenlivet?
As someone who appreciates quality and versatility, whether in my wardrobe or on my bar, The Glenlivet’s unique character is something I have come to appreciate over the years. For special occasions I like the 18 year old neat, so I can really taste those sweet citrusy notes. I also love The Glenlivet Captain’s Reserve. It’s non-aged and matured in cognac casks, and I appreciate that kind of unconventional approach in any creative pursuit, but particularly when it comes to whisky.

Please enjoy our products responsibly.

Photography: Renata Kaveh