Staging a quiet revolution in menswear today is 27-year-old Patrik Ervell. Swedish by way of California, he majored in political science, and moved to New York in 2001 where he became contributing fashion editor at V Magazine for five years. Since starting his own label in 2005, his 'romantic futurist' aesthetic has seen him emerge as one of the most intriguing new menswear designers out there. He took some technical lessons at Parsons School of Design to facilitate the transition from editorial to design, but says his magazine experience was formative to his design philosophy - "It's a great place to see how fashion works as a discourse. It shows you how fashion can do things culturally, and not just be about types of clothes."
While some designers do drastic stylistic swerves each season, he prefers "to work with the same theme, moving with the cultural flow". Each collection thus far has been a refinement of his modus operandi of "classic American sportswear pushed in slightly more bizarre territory". This can mean anything from biker jackets in luxurious cashmere trimmed with braid, to luminously glowing red windbreakers made from silicone coated nylon. The cuts are long, lean and angular; and the devil is in the details, from mother of pearl buttons to cotton shirts covered in shiny gossamer-light polyurethane fabric.
Fittingly for someone who rates Helmut Lang "as an important voice in menswear", his agenda resolutely avoids obvious clichés like rock n' roll nostalgia; instead looking to push fashion forward. Like Raf Simons, he revels in the technological side of fashion, but balances out this modernity with old fashioned and romantic touches like tuxedo shirts inset with satin.
Of his latest collection for S/S 07: "There was an overarching military feeling to it," he points out. "There weren't any overt military references in a trite way like epaulettes, but there was an underlying thought behind it." This was particularly captured in a jacket made from vintage parachutes: "I was really inspired by the look of these surplus airforce parachutes from the 1950s, [which I] sourced from a military contractor. It's kind of perverse, I know, but they are incredibly beautiful things to look at.
Currently stocked in au courant boutiques like Opening Ceremony and
Bblessing in New York, and Side By Side in Tokyo, Ervell looks to
expand his collection to Europe and the UK for next season. His ascent
may be incremental, but such a steady, stealthy growth has long-term
potential. It's a strategy married to the subtle idiosyncrasy of
Ervell's clothes, themselves inspired by a forward-looking creative
optimism: "[My muse is] somebody who's interested in the future, and in
what the future can be like".