Patrick Ervell recently sat down with VICE to talk about how he got started in the fashion industry. Here's a teaser: He says he wanted to be a diplomat before he even considered being a designer. But that's not all—the interview gets even better. Ervell also discusses his friendship with Humberto Leon of Opening Ceremony and Kate and Laura Mulleavy from Rodarte, working for V magazine, how his label started as a graphic T-Shirt, and more. Check out a few excerpts below.
VICE: If you started off as a political science and art major, how'd you get into fashion back in the day?
Patrik: I had inklings of it in high school the way everybody does when you’re starting to experiment with how you dress and what subculture you belong to and what music you listen to. That’s something all teenagers do. I didn’t start looking at fashion—as in the fashion industry—until college. There were a lot of people who I went to college with that ended up working in fashion, which is weird because Berkeley doesn’t have any fashion program. Like, there’s Carol and Humberto from Opening Ceremony and Kate and Laura from Rodarte. None of us studied fashion, but we all ended up working in the industry.
Were you guys a tight knit group of friends?
Humberto and I were close friends. Carol I didn’t meant until a few years later. Kate and Laura—I would say we were friendly, but we weren’t buddies. I remember studying for an art history final at their house. We were in a lot of the same classes, because we were both doing art history stuff.
So you wanted to be a diplomat, right?
Yeah, I was going to join the diplomat corps. I went through the whole process. I took the Foreign Service exam, which is this intense written exam. If you pass it, you have to go to Washington DC for a second interview. I passed it, but then I decided not to pursue it anymore. Instead, I moved to New York City a week after graduating.
So how did you land the gig at V?
I had been an intern there the summer between my junior and senior year. It wasn’t something I was planning to do. I moved to New York without a job, and was just hanging out for two or three months, which was the two or three months right before September 11t.h When that happened, every company just stopped hiring for a good couple months. I had already done this internship at V and they were like “Oh, do you want to work here?” So I started working there. Mainly because there was this hiring freeze for every single company, so there were no other options.
So I read that your line started as a graphic T. What were the graphics like?
It was marble statue heads, just details of them. They were really faded and printed on white. It was like a ghosted image of a marble head shot from a beautiful angle. There was a series of three of them. And I think there were some that were an image of a nebulae, something from the Hubble telescope. They were printed on washed out T-shirts. This was when Opening Ceremony first opened, and I think it was one of the first things they sold there. I was still working at V then. I don’t even know what the label said. I don’t know if it was my name or something else. But it was more like a project. It was casual. I don’t know if I have any, but I remember them being very beautiful.
Read the rest of the interview here.
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