If not for fashion the world might have only found out about Patrik Ervell through WikiLeaks. The Swedish-born, Cali-raised Ervell came to New York looking to take the Foreign Service exam and become a diplomat, but instead ended up as an editor at V (and as the upstairs neighbor of Opening Ceremony). With no formal training he started off with graphic tees, selling them at the aforementioned creative hub.
But you don’t become the first menswear designer to win an Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation award by sticking to T-shirts. Since 2006, Ervell has been meticulously producing collections that are a rare confluence of American sportswear traditions and technical fabric innovations. Making fans out of Michael Stipe and Ryan Gosling, Ervell often draws comparisons to Hedi Slimane and Jil Sander with his minimalist aesthetic.
While steadily picking up CFDA nominations over the last few years, Ervell has bucked the industry norm by approaching fashion like a lab experiment. Fabrics have been rust-stained with iron and copper oxide, jackets crafted from NASA-worthy gold metallic polyurethane, and jumpsuits rendered out of rubberized cotton. But before you go thinking this is some kind of Final Home fantasy, Ervell also cranks out collections inspired by both louche 1980s SoCal living and fly boy militarism.
He’s also got a healthy disdain for fashion with an “F,” instead preferring musical allusions to his work and lots of Slowdive on his shows’ playlists. Maybe that’s why the industry has yet to award him the top prize, but that’s ok, he’s being very diplomatic about it.