Designer Patrik Ervell spent some time at the Museum of Arts and Design for their 4 part series in ‘Conversations in American Menswear’ moderated by Garmento Zine on Thursday, 23 May 2013. The Northern California native, talked with Garmento Zine Founder/Editor Jeremy Lewis about his start as a designer, his design process, the difference between referencing and inspiration, and the use of music in his collection.
Becoming a designer was a gradual process for Ervell. The Designer studied Political Science and initially wanted to work in the foreign services as a Diplomat. He moved to New York City because everybody he knew moved to New York City. Interning at V Magazine, he eventually became a Fashion Editor for V. During this time, Ervell had conversations with Stylists who always referenced their work. Whether the look was to be Bowie or some other icon, Ervell got bored with these uses of inspirational sources and wanted to create something that wasn’t referenced. When his friends opened up Opening Ceremony, the opportunity arose for Ervell to design for them, and create work that could not be referenced.
Simplicity, essential elements, and clarity are key to Ervell’s work, which he cites are influenced by his Northern Californian roots and his Swedish parents. Though some may describe his clothes as being minimal, Ervell doesn’t see his work as that, but instead being ‘the opposite, not ornate, but not minimal.’ Essential.
With regards to production, Ervell chooses to produce and manufacturer in the U.S. with the exception of his knitwear, for the same reasons as a few other American Designers. With improvements in quality production and the need to keep costs down by avoiding overseas taxes and fees, this was an obviously practical move. Another reason was logistics, as the initial versions of his product are never correct, it’s just easier to deal with issues when they are close by rather than overseas.
Fabric selection is key to telling a story in Ervell’s collection and this procedure is done every 6 months. During this time, Ervell likes to experiment and find textures that are not expected, but give a sense of luxury. The shapes of his pieces are identifiable and familiar like a North Face jacket, but not referenced, which he is adamant about not doing.
Though Ervell does not reference his work, he does claim sources of inspiration for his pieces. For his Fall/Winter 2013-14 collection the ‘forest motif’ was inspired by Endor, the fictional land of Ewoks that we all wanted to visit as a child in ‘Return of the Jedi’. Um…yes you did. Actually, the realtree camouflage look was inspired by the location of where the film was shot, in Marin County, where Ervell grew up, and not necessarily by the film.
Music sets the mood for Ervell’s shows. The designer tends to pull his soundtrack from the 90s era shoegaze of Slowdive. Might I suggest Ride’s LP ‘Nowhere’ if you’re ever in need of some musical inspiration? He doesn’t utilize specific genres, but instead favors the 90s in general for his musical choices. Ervell had a hip hop phase for 3 or 4 seasons stating he tends to choose music that is timeless, (though modern).
Ervell has just started a women’s line, but has promoted it more as a ‘subset of the main collection’ (the men’s collection). The menswear collection is sophisticated and casual at the same time. It’s an all-around line that’s fit for various styles from the uptown to downtown guy to the urban, suburban, and possibly rural guy.
Fortunately for we the people, Political Science’s lost is Fashion’s gain.