Patrik Ervell lives in Los Angeles now, but it’s not hard to peg him for a New Yorker. He’s still dressed like the downtown New York designer he was for more than a decade, to start: black mock-neck shirt, black jeans, and suddenly-trendy black Salomon hiking sneakers. («I will take full credit for that. Full credit,” he says, laughing but not exactly joking.) And then there’s the commute. Back in September, Ervell was announced as the new men’s designer for Vince, the Los Angeles-based brand best known for its sweaters. Soon after, Ervell was on a plane; when we speak in Vince’s New York showroom in early November, he’s been working on his first collection, set to debut in January, for five weeks. Now, he tells me, he walks each morning to Vince’s Hollywood office—a good way to draw stares in Los Angeles. New York through and through.
But Ervell, like so many New Yorkers, moved west for an opportunity that felt too exciting—too California big—to pass up. Vince’s place in the retail landscape is not entirely clear: the brand is not expensive—or conceptual—enough to challenge the high-end hitters, but the clothes are too well-made and costly to drop down a tier. The numbers reflect as much: after a gangbusters public offering in 2013, and a brief period the next year that saw its stock trading at nearly $400 a share, the company’s shares now sit at $4. Now, Ervell has joined up to lend a much-needed point of view. After a decade churning out signature menswear pieces like club-collared oxfords and teched-out fleeces from his studio on Howard Street, he’s tasked with bringing the same ethos—designer fashion that can pass for anonymous, classic pieces with tweaks noticeable only to those know know to look for them—to a brand with a vaguely defined identity.
If Vince is amorphous, Ervell is diamond-sharp. He’s quiet, and a little severe: his close-cropped hair, light mustache, and deliberate, patient manner don’t say “2017 fashion designer” so much as “1930s French filmmaker”—with space-age hiking boots. We spoke about his new job, the state of menswear, and why California feels like the future—of fashion, and everything else.
Ervell is noted for using innovative and unusual fabrics including gold foil, vintage parachutes, fabrics dyed with oxidized iron and copper, handmade rubber raincoats, horsehair, and most recently splash-dyed silks. His designs are characterized as utilitarian, minimal and elegant.
Patrik Ervell debuted in 2005 at the New York City concept store Opening Ceremony. Upon winning the Ecco Domani Award for Menswear in 2007 he debuted his collection in his first runway show. Since then, Patrik has received nominations for the CFDA’s SwarovskiAward for Menswear in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Ervell was the runner up for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award in 2009. In 2011 he was nominated for GQ’s Best New Menswear Designer in America, and the CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year. Ervell shows his menswear collections twice yearly at New York Fashion Week, showing in both presentation and runway show formats. After seasons of presentations, for his Fall Winter 2012 collection Ervell returned to the runway presentation.
Patrik Ervell is carried around the world at stores such as Barneys and Opening Ceremony.
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