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MATTHEW SMITH | Meet the former America’s Next Top Model and the new face of KARV streetwear

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When asked if I would like the opportunity to interview Matthew Smith from America’s Next Top Model, I was a little hesitant. I mean, I was used to seeing him on tv in my Grandmother’s living room with a bowl of caramel popcorn (yes, we go all out and you’d understand if you tasted her caramel popcorn). But I figured I had nothing to lose and penciled in the date in my Kate Spade day planner.

Interview with Matthew Smith: The new face of KARV

I arrived at the brand new Delta Hotel on Lower Simcoe with enough time to touch up my make-up and get lost on my way up to the 46th floor – just my luck. The previous interview was just wrapping up and I was moved into a separate, but equally as beautiful, room with KARV‘s latest collection lining the walls. KARV is one of the reasons Matthew Smith was in town – he’s their latest face. He also recently signed with Angie’s AMTI agency here in Toronto.

As we sat down to talk, any nerves that I might have had melted away. In person, just like on ANTM, Matthew was outgoing, fun and always ready to make you laugh. About America’s Next Top Model he says “it was a crazy experience” and even though it might not be the best show on tv, it’s where he really got his start.

It also is what you genuinely might think it is: reality. “[You have] no cell phone, no internet, no cable, no newspaper – you’re confined and it’s interesting to see how people deal with their problems when they have no way of venting outside of that bubble,” Matthew said.

Another perhaps shocking fact to come from this interview was that Matthew had never thought about becoming a model. (Until one day when he was approached at a mall.) He even went as far as to say he “hated the idea of modelling”.

Oh really? And why is that?

“I thought it was very pretentious,” he said. “There’s this idea that there’s no work involved – it’s a blessing, right? Your inherited genetics, if you will. I didn’t respect that perspective of the industry.”

All perspectives aside, Matthew Smith has carved (no pun intended) a name for himself in the industry. With his success has come his first Canadian brand: KARV. Based out of Montreal, KARV is a street wear brand specializing in jeans, hoodies and casual tees for men and women. It’s the first “real level” brand work for Matthew (“There’s catalogue, editorials, and then campaigns – the ones you really want!” he said).

When I asked about the originality of the brand (something they’re known for), Matthew responded with a humorous tale about their original “invisible underwear” that go for a steal of a price at $10 a pair – but all joking aside, it was their work ethic and brand personality that drew him to KARV.

“They’re the perfect example of people you want to be around,” Matthew said. “The people at KARV are just really good, wholesome, positive, inspired and dedicated – and it shows in their clothing.”

Matthew himself was decked out in head-to-toe KARV (naturally) for our interview. When I asked him which is his go-to item of the latest collection, he had a hard time picking just one – everything is just that good. When asked about the womenswear, however, I got more of an answer.

“The womenswear is very ready to wear and casual,” he started off. “If anyone isn’t aware of this already, men love women who are comfortable enough to wear casual clothing. Obviously there are occasions where you throw on a [fancy] dress or whatever, but KARV is really good at providing those hoodies, jeans, and loose fitting skirts. [They] compliment a woman in her own skin.”

I had a chance post-interview to browse through a couple racks and a shelf of clothing and agree with Matthew’s statements – KARV makes great casual clothes for both men and women. I’d love to get my hands on a pair of those jeans or denim rompers!

Matthew’s PR company, Karyzma Agency, is Canadian based and so we should expect to see more from this top model in these neck of the woods. He’s already planning his next Canadian collaboration.

“I would love to work with Roots!” he said. “The brand’s great. I love their leatherwork – they have great satchels, “man purses” and jackets. Also, the owners are American but the brand is Canadian – a very similar situation to me.”

At the end of the day, it’s not so much about him being the face of a brand but making sure he’s doing the brand proud – something he says a lot of models forget about.

“I definitely don’t sit here saying the job can’t be done without me. There are a million other people that the job can be done with,” he said. “The end goal isn’t my face, it’s making sure the product is sellable, creative and inspiring.”

Check out KARV’s latest collection and shop online here.

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