We at American Woolen love working with designers. We're in awe of the amazing things they create with our product, and recently we were fortunate enough to sit down with Creative Director and Co-Founder of HVRMINN Minn.
When did you realize you wanted to be a designer?
I'd say when I first got my custom tailored suit. I was 18 or 19 years old. It was my high school graduation gift from my father. I was quite mesmerized by how meticulous the custom made suit was. Rather than becoming a tailor I was more interested in becoming a designer in general.
So once you figured out that is what you wanted to pursue, what did that path look like?
Back in those days the Internet wasn't that prevalent. The only sources I could get about fashion were the magazines. You know fashion magazines. GQ. Esquire. Magazines like that. I collected every month. Also I'm obsessed with films. A lot of old movies. That's how I...how should I say it...before I went to school that's how I sort of studied fashion
School years were ok. Parsons is known for their tough curriculum, but it was very intense. I learned a lot. I don't necessarily think it's worth the tuition price, but you know, it is what it is.
What was next after school?
Well I know I'm not the type of person who can work or design for other people. I just knew that. So I started, as soon as I graduated, a made-to-measure business out of my small Chelsea walk-up apartment. That's how it started you know. As I was running this small made-to-measure business I met my other business partners as customers. They were all my customers. Once they got suits from me they were very happy with the quality and the design and everything. We naturally started talking about doing business together and started with the legitimate business in 2012.
After we started the company I realized I wanted to come up with something more than just tailoring these clothes. I'm a designer. I'm not a tailor. I'm a menswear designer. My vision was bigger than that so in 2013 we started our collection label called Eponymovs label. That’s how our collection label started and we just presented our 5th season with our Fall/Winter 2016.
When designing a collection, do you have something you consistently turn to for inspiration?
I get this question all the time, but it's a tricky one to answer because it's a very multifaceted process. It's not just, you know, in every season I sit down and start looking for inspiration or something like that. All these ideas and references and all these inspirations have accumulated in my mind over years and years. So it's kind of hard to answer that. I can tell you a key aspect of my design is vintage military uniforms.
I'm obsessed with vintage military uniforms. What I always try to do is combine these militaristic references with tailoring aspects. So when you look at our clothes, people get a little curious. They get a little confused. Is this tailored or is this sportswear pieces? You know what I mean. I'd like to say our brand has it's own category. We don't fall into any conventional category. I'd rather say it's a designer brand. A designer label that mainly focuses on the synthesis of military uniforms and tailoring clothes.
Can you trace your obsession with military uniforms?
From the old movies probably.
It sounds a little weird, but I love the uniformity of military uniforms. How masculine the details are. How practical the constructions are. Stuff like that. I used to mix and match my suits with my vintage clothes. So I've collected a lot of vintage military uniforms from turn of the century to ‘40s, ‘50s, and I used to style them with my suits. Then one day it crossed my mind, how about making these military uniforms in a more refined way. A more meticulous way.
What is it you look for in fabric?
It's quite intuitive. It's the quality and the visual. Basically textile design. One thing great about American Woolen is they have a huge collection of designs. I've never seen a big collection like that before. I was very impressed when I visited the mill. It was almost too many for me to narrow down.
Another thing is, like I said, I derive my inspirations mainly from turn of the century to the 1940s and American Woolen does have that aesthetic. That kind of turn of the century American look. Which is kind of perfect for us you know.
What does the Made in America movement mean to you?
I'm not going to lie. As a designer, as a person who runs a business, I'm not willing to support Made in USA unless the quality follows it. Unless the quality is equal to that reputation, there is no reason for me to support that. The reason I love American Woolen is it does have great quality.
We have a lot of experiences with suiting manufacturers. All these Made in USA labels with ridiculously expensive production costs, but the quality wasn't really up to the expectation. So it wasn't worth it. We decided not to use those manufacturers just because it has a Made in USA label. My priority is always the quality and not the label.
What other profession would you like to explore if not a designer?
Probably a film director or something with movies. I'm still highly obsessed with film.