Patrik Ervell Will Always Be In Fashion
New York-based designer Patrik Ervell is a complete anomaly in the fashion world, carefully crafting a specific sartorial language, rather than reinventing his brand every season. Since the line’s inception in 2006, his menswear designs have garnered...
Growing up in San Francisco in the mid 90s, what was high school like for you? Did you have a high school subculture of any kind?
My high school was not especially subcultural. I was really into mid-90s Brit Pop. There was a club in San Francisco called Pop Scene that was very much that - it would be Pulp and Blur and those types of bands. I definitely had some of those haircuts, too. You know, all the things that you do when you're that age.
How do you get inspired?
For me, it's less about creating a mood board or theme for the season, but more about creating a general mood. Travel does that, sometimes it might be about another city. But I don't do that much archival research into an old picture or subculture or band. It's more about now and the mood. The zeitgeist, I guess.
You've said in the past that you find it much more interesting when brands work to develop a specific language as opposed to more topically themed seasonal collections. What are you attempting to communicate through your designs?
I always want it to feel modern and new. Sometimes when you do that, there's a coldness that comes along with it. I've always wanted to counteract that coldness and make my work feel romantic. So there's always a newness, whether it's techiness, clean lines, or a way of finishing fabrics, but at the same time, I want it to be about romance. A romantic modernism.
Does your fondness for sci-fi ever translate into your work in this regard?
Absolutely. That's one of the few spaces, in menswear especially, where you can have this room for fantasy and for extravagance and for experimentation that somehow still feels masculine. And that's a really tricky thing in menswear. I find that in the sci-fi aesthetic.
What was your first fashion show like?
I used to show at Pier 59 studios in two connecting studios that faced the Hudson River. Every time I showed, there was no cloud cover, just sunlight pouring through the windows. No professional lighting, just walking through the sun. I look back at those photos from before the show and they're so beautiful. There's a purity to those first few shows.
Can you tell us about your upcoming collections?
I've been thinking a lot about interiors and furniture and materials used to make furniture. The strangeness and the colors used - there's definitely an element of interiors for this upcoming collection.
Does that translate into more synthetic fabrics?
Synthetic fabrics, plastic, patterns that I feel like you would typically see more in upholstery and late 20th century industrial design, things that are outside of the realm of clothing.
You've seen Howard Street go from a quiet street to a fashion intersection with Opening Ceremony, Jil Sander, Maiyet, Derek Lam, and The Smile all a stone's throw away from your studio.
You know Mrs. Pugliese that lives downstairs? She's been here since the 70s. She said she knows how the Indians felt when they first saw the British ships pulling into the harbor and realising that their world was coming to an end. That's what she told me! The store before Opening Ceremony used to sell wholesale sheets and towels. For her, of course, it's changed so dramatically.
Do you collect anything?
I collect old military garments, militaria, I guess you could say. There are a few dealers that I go to that are really good. One's in Paris. There are garments that were made for very specific military campaigns. I have this parka that was for American soldiers as they invaded Italy, it was reversible, army green on one side and white on the other so they were ready to go up into the Alps. It was made for this specific theater of war. And of course, as a designer, there are a lot of things I can look to with these garments--details and fits.
How do you spend your free time?
If I can travel, I do. I've realised that's the best way to improve your quality of life in the long run. I was in the desert outside of LA at the end of winter when it gets really bitter and depressing in New York. I was out in the desert around Palm Springs and it was pretty magical.
Text Emily Manning
Photography Kathy Lo