While the idea of cataloging items, in theory, seems like a wearisome act, Inventory is anything but. In 2006, Victoria native Ryan Willms began his foray into the online realm and started h(y)r collective, a blog which he used as a means to build a body of copywriting work and chronicle the things he admired. Three years later, moving from digital to print, Inventory magazine was born, now a bi-annual publication in its tenth issue. It has become something of a shelf staple for many, known unofficially as “the independent menswear bible”—not difficult to imagine as Willms sits across the table at Nelson the Seagull in a lightweight trench by Mackintosh, black t-shirt and trousers, and a pair of green Adidas Stan Smith shoes.
Impressively, despite never having graduated from post secondary—although he logged stints at both the University of Calgary and the University of British Columbia—Willms has proven himself a publishing wunderkind. “Being able to work and collaborate with companies like Dover Street Market, Beams, WP Lavori, and have the level of respect that we do within the industry really means a lot,” he says. “There is still a long ways to go before we get to where I’d like but I think we’re on the right track.”
One of the most surprising things about Willms, or perhaps not surprising at all given the understated style of the magazine, is his demeanour. A generally quiet 29-year old, Willms has a calming but commanding presence about him. Equally, he’s markedly humble. Even with the following and influence Inventory has developed. “I think that my family and my colleagues have both contributed to this over the years,” he explains. “I also know that there are always going to be smarter, more talented people, and that there is so much to learn. I never lose sight of that.”
In addition to managing the magazine and its two showrooms—in Vancouver and New York—with Simon Roe, Owen Parrott, and the variety of talented contributors on the masthead, Willms does find the time to enjoy things outside of work. “During the first three to four years I really didn’t take much time [for myself] but I am getting better now,” he says, having found a healthier balance in the past year. An avid runner, he indicates it’s a good way to clear his head throughout the week. In fact, just a short while ago, Willms finished his fifth half marathon and a personal best coming in 55th overall at 1:23.
Never not running (literally and metaphorically), Willms continually looks at ways to keep the magazine fresh with interesting featured labels, interviews, and photography. “Having the opportunity to create whatever we want within our pages is pretty exciting,” he notes. “We have a small but great editorial staff and I feel we work well together. We put out an insightful, rich, in-depth publication every six months that people truly appreciate and respect. It’s something that we can feel proud of.”
Shoot locations: Inventory stockroom, Nelson the Seagull, Neighbour, 247 Main, Burdock & Co, and the Juice Truck storefront.