New York-based designer Patrik Ervell melds Japanese-inspired prints, granola-fed outdoor gear, laser-sharp tailoring and obscure textiles like no one else can. A California-raised economics and art-history major, Ervell is also a friend of the Nordstrom family–he and our Director of Creative Projects, Olivia Kim (the mastermind behind each Pop-In @ Nordstrom) go way back. In fact, his current studio happens to be Olivia’s old apartment.
Keep reading for an exclusive glimpse at this innovative designer’s inner sanctum—and to sit in on a candid chat between longtime compadres Olivia Kim and Patrik Ervell.
On Olivia’s move to Seattle, and Patrik’s Swedish ancestry.
Patrik: “So how’s Seattle? It looks beautiful from your Instagram.”
Olivia: “It’s really pretty, and it’s small enough that you feel—”
Patrik: “Like you know everybody?”
Olivia: “I know nobody! I’ve made no friends. The only people I know are people who work for Nordstrom. It’s that Swedish thing. Where people are…”
Patrik: “Right—it’s a different culture. It’s more reserved. You have to be introduced. It takes years before you’re actually invited into a home. It takes time—it’s not immediate best friends. I think that’s very Swedish.”
Olivia: “The Nordstroms are Swedish. They’re also very direct. At least my boss is. He’s like, ‘No, that’s a terrible idea.'”
Patrik: “[Laughs.] I’d love to hear that idea.”
On last-minute decisions.
Olivia: “Patty, I love all of your newww prints! You’re going wild on us!”
Patrik: “Well, that’s important. That’s how people dress … [Pointing to printed T-shirts]: These would have been perfect for your thing.”
Olivia: “Dave never said that there were T-shirts. DAVE’S FIRED. Are these digitally printed?”
Patrik: “It’s like an allover sublimation print.”
Olivia: “How cute is this?”
Patrik: “It’s nice. The ocean print is even nicer, though.”
Olivia: “Do you think we can get them in time?” [Editor’s note: We got them in time. Shop: Patrik Ervell All Over Print T-Shirts in three colorways.]
On finding new uses for old materials.
Patrik: “[Referring to pieces for next fall.] It’s not real fur…it’s a fake fur, but it’s made of wool, it’s not acrylic. I’ve used it before. It’s like this teddy-bear fur kind of stuff. It’s this German teddy-bear company, Steiff. They made like, luxury teddy bears in the 19th century, but now they make fabrics too.”
On organic design.
Patrik: “It’s this really formal piece, but it has this breathable membrane.”
[Shop: Patrik Ervell Daypack]
On earning an honest buck.
Patrik: “You have to go into the field and visit stores, right? Have you ever visited the Nordstrom in Corte Madera in Marin County, just north of San Francisco?”
Patrik: “Because I used to work at that one too. [Patrik also worked at Nordstrom San Francisco Centre back in the day.] I did Men’s Sportswear, and then I think when I was like 16, I was a stock boy. Also at like, The Rack.”
Olivia: “You worked at The Rack?”
Patrik: “As a stock boy.”
Olivia: “Why did you decide to work there?”
Patrik: “I dunno, I was 16. What do you do when you’re 16 and you want a summer job? Yeah. Nordstrom.”
Olivia: “In Corte Madera. So your parents had to drive you?”
Patrik: “No, by then—I think you can start driving when you’re 15 and a half or something in California. Which seems insane. Can you imagine?”
Olivia: “No, that seems…A 15-year-old driving a car?”
Patrik: “That’s nuts. That’s nuts.”
On flying under the radar.
Olivia: “I like how you had two jobs at Nordstrom. I’m sure they treated you very well.”
Patrik: “Well, you know. I was a dumb teenager. I remember once falling asleep.”
Olivia: “Ha ha, what!?”
Patrik: “In like, the back area. Finding a place where no one was around and laying stuff out on the floor and sleeping in it. Like, making a nest and sleeping.”
Olivia: “Did you get in trouble?”
Patrik: “I don’t think anyone found me. That’s normal, right?”
Olivia: “Very normal.”
On the power of word-of-mouth.
Olivia: “How do you guys drive traffic to your site?”
Patrik: “I don’t know, actually.”
On keeping it simple.
Olivia: “What are three things you think every man needs?”
Patrik: “A dog. A valid passport. And a baseball cap.”
[Shop: Patrik Ervell Fleece Jacket]
On the philosophy of a high-end fleece.
Patrik: “This is a bit of a tricky thing, especially for Seattle [where Nordstrom is based] and California [where Patrik is from], because it’s actually such a familiar style for us—but it’s something that I’ve been doing and I think people are coming around to. I always think that in menswear, it takes a little bit of time; you have to show it a few times before it finally hits. It’s a technical outerwear message, but in really luxurious fabrics. It’s looking to brands like Patagonia, The North Face, that aesthetic—but done in these beautiful Italian fabrics.”
On the fact that before this was Patrik’s studio, it was Olivia’s apartment.
Olivia: “My plant is doing really well!”
Patrik: “Yeah, he’s doing well. I was surprised, I thought that in the winter he would get sad.”
Olivia: “I really left a lot of furniture here…”
Patrik: “Yeah, you did. Do you want, like, your Scrabble or Boggle? Because we don’t actually ever use those.”
Olivia: “Nah it’s OK for now. You don’t play Scrabble?! You guys should.”
Patrik: “There’s also this Spy picture.” [Spy is Olivia’s French Bulldog.]
Olivia: “I know, it’s not Spy though. Somebody bought it for me off the street, so it’s not really Spy. I have no sentimental value towards it.”
On the shoes used in Patrik’s Fall/Winter 2014 runway show.
Olivia: “What are these shoes? You partnered with Red Wing?”
Patrik: “Well, I just asked Red Wing for a bunch and they sent them—but then we beefed up the sole. It’s actually a really nice, or clever idea, not to toot my own horn. But it’s like window gasket, you know, to seal the outside of windows? And then we nailed it in.”
Olivia: “So it’s just for show?”
Patrik: “Just for show.”
Olivia: “How did you think of that?”
Patrik: “I just wanted that shape—just tried it, and it worked.”
Olivia: “But how did you think of using the window gasket?”
Patrik: “Just went to the rubber store and did some tests, and found that this worked perfectly.”
On the virtues of being weird.
Olivia: “Well, you’ve come a long way, Patrik.”
Patrik: “Still a long way to go, I feel like.”
Olivia: “Where do you want it to go?”
Patrik: “Well, I feel like I’m just on the verge of graduating from being a small, like, weird little designer. Just on the verge of graduating from that, but not quite. Not quite yet.”
Olivia [yelling]: “STRATH, DO YOU NEED HELP?” [Our creative director, Strath, was taking photos in the other room.]
Strath: “No, I’m good.”
On learning the ropes.
Olivia: “You seem really calm right now, Patty. Considering that your show is…” [At the time, Patrik’s FW14 fashion show was a few days away.]
Patrik: “It’s like, I understand how to do it now. I used to just spin my wheels. I thought that’s what you had to do—like, ‘I’m freakin’ out! It’s the show!’ But I don’t actually have to do that. I’m going to do all of the fittings tomorrow at 9am. I’ve already cast it, and then you just kind of slot them in.”
On the finishing touches.
Olivia: “And Holli’s doing hair? I feel like your hair [at your shows] is always a memorable moment.”
Patrik: “Holli hair. It’s really special, what she does. It’s not for everyone, but it’s very specific. Everything’s a little sculpture. She has to do it with her hands.”
Olivia: “And then who’s styling?”
Patrik: “No one styles it, ever.”
Olivia: “You just do it.”
Patrik: “Yeah. I’ve never had a stylist for men’s.”
On staying a step ahead.
Olivia: “Are you excited about the casting? I feel like you always have the newest guys.”
Patrik: “It’s weird how men’s casting works—they’re always better when they’re new and unknown. Once they become like, ‘male models’ that are known, it sort of loses its power.”
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And read our previous post on Ervell, Instagram, and indoor skydiving here.
Pop-In @ Nordstrom is an ongoing series of themed pop-up shops curated by Olivia Kim. A unique experience awaits you online and at selected stores. Our current Pop-In, Heartbreakers Club, is the first to focus exclusively on menswear.
[Photos by Strath Shepard.]