HAYDEN CHRISTENSEN HAS BEEN ON LUNCHBOXES. He’s had his own action figures, his own fridge magnets, had his face plastered on billboards from São Paulo to Singapore. The guy was Darth Vader, for chrissakes. And yet, none of it can quite compare to the first time he saw someone wearing a piece of clothing he designed.
“I was driving around town,” Christensen remembers, “and I saw someone wearing one of my jackets. I’ve had some neat experiences in life, but having designed something that someone else bought and wore and embraced? I got a real kick out of that.”
This spring marks the second season of Hayden Christensen for RW&CO., an ongoing collaboration between the Thornhill, Ontario-raised actor and the nationwide retail chain. It’s an undertaking that goes far deeper than your standard-issue celebrity endorsement: Christensen has been hands-on at every stage of the line’s development, regularly flying in to the label’s Montreal head office to direct the design team, choose fabrics and inspect samples.
“The whole process was a bit overwhelming at first,” the 33-year-old admits. “I have a bit of an obsessive-compulsive personality, and this was a great means for me to obsess over tiny little things: the stitching, the buttons, the zippers. I’d take the samples back home and really live with them to see how they felt, how they functioned. I tried to be as considerate as possible about every single detail.”
Walking through the new collection, that level of commitment is immediately evident. Christensen’s first at-bat, released last fall, had a rugged, outdoorsy feel, inspired by the farm he owns in southern Ontario. For spring, however, he’s turned to his adopted home of Los Angeles as his main muse. It’s a versatile range of batik-print button-downs, patterned shorts and well-tailored sweats: the kind of tastefully laid-back clothes you want to spend the whole summer wearing.
While Christensen’s new side gig in fashion is keeping him busy, he hasn’t abandoned his film career. Last year, he founded a production company called Glacier Films, and has three movies set to hit theatres in 2014. None of them—understandably—has anything to do with galaxies far, far away.
“Yeah, no Star Wars t-shirts allowed,” he says with a laugh. Later on, though, Christensen pauses while considering a menacing pair of all-black leather sneakers, the very first shoes he’s designed. “Alright, alright,” he smirks. “I guess I did let a little Darth Vader into the collection.”