May28th watches are more than just timepieces; they're a fun and affordable accessory for the sartorially-minded. Fun, fashion-forward guys and girls around the world have embraced the Toronto line's bold, bright colours, unlimited design choices, and low price point (between $34-$49 each).
In addition to a growing collection of more than 100 styles, shoppers can also send in their own images, and they'll convert it into a watch face, then team it with the band of your choice.
The brand that's grown into a global phenomenon started out as a hobby four years ago for designer Agni Tilla. "I had an idea for a watch for myself so I decided to figure out how the watch worked by breaking it apart and putting it back together," she said via email. "I remade the watch with a patterned watch face and elastic band. It turned out to be a pretty fun and functional watch, so I made few other one-of-a-kind styles and published them online.
"A few months later, NYmag.com featured them and people began asking for more designs. That's when I realized that I should continue what I was doing, and May28th was born." (The company name is Tilla's wedding date.)
Since then, the collection's been available in a growing number of Toronto stores and online outlets, but the brand recently opened a public showroom/studio, just off Queen St. West, where the watches are assembled and members of the public can check out and shop for new designs.
"The actual designing process is quite fast. What takes the longest is the thinking, processing, inspiration-gathering and figuring out the right direction for the next collection," she says. "As I'm traveling very often, I'm inspired by every new place I visit and all its architecture, nature and people." In May, the company will be launching a new collection of metallic watches, along with floral styles for spring and summer.
The custom watch idea, meanwhile, "was conceived when we began getting more requests from our customers," says Tilla. "We found Instagram to be a great place to start for creating watches as usually those images using filters look great even if they were taken by amateur photographers."
In order to make your own trendy ticker, just pick a design or upload your own photo from your computer or Instagram feed (make sure image is 300-600px) to May28th's website, pick a band and buckle in your favourite colour, add black or white arm bands, and you're done. The finished product can be picked up at the studio.
May28th also collaborates with designers to bring in fresh designs. "We added artist collaborations with our new website launch last September, and we really enjoy working with artists. We will be expanding the collaboration section in the near future by adding more artists and promoting their work as well."
The company is launching bike seat covers in May, with 10 different styles on offer, including a map of Toronto. The company is also set to launch a mobile app that lets users preview how their custom watch will look on their wrist.
Last, but not least, Tilla says, they'll soon be launching May28th Market, an online shop featuring products from other designers. "May will be a very exciting month," she says.
Writing by Sarah Cairns, photos by James C Lee