In 2017 Patrik Ervell made a huge life change. Actually, three: He closed his own eponymous menswear label, moved from New York to Los Angeles, and started a job as Vice President of men’s design at Vince, known for plush sweaters and a low-key-yet-sophisticated vibe. “Everybody always says you move to California later in life,” Ervell says simply. “That’s the natural progression.” WSJ. caught up with the new(ish) Angeleno, whose first collection with the label is available in stores and online, to discuss “his” Vince, why California style is so influential right now, and, naturally, what kind of car he drives now that he lives in L.A.
Max Berlinger: When you took the job at Vince you closed your own namesake label and moved from New York to California. That’s a lot of big life changes!
Patrik Ervell: You spend your twenties and early thirties in New York and then you move to L.A. You put in your time in New York and want to try something else. Of course I love New York—I could imagine going back one day, for sure. I just think something about L.A. felt right, and California felt right. I keep saying: California has never felt more like the future than it does today. I think it feels like an exciting time to be here.
MB: You’re from Northern California, so does this feel like a return home for you?
PE: Sort of. People in San Francisco would say it’s not at all the same thing—and it’s not. It’s a foreign country. I’m from Northern California, which, in a way, feels more Vince to me anyway. This is a company that digs into an understated luxury, and that’s much more of a Northern California ethos than an L.A. ethos.
MB: When you started a year ago, what did you want to bring to Vince?
PE: For me, the idea of luxury from California hadn’t really ever been explored. There’s a way of dressing here that’s very specific—specific codes and manners here that have trickled out to the rest of the world. There are types of garments that have come from here, which in my mind have always been iconic and have been part of my design language since day one. I’m thinking of things like a Patagonia fleece and a North Face jacket. Those, to me, are as iconic as a trench coat. To start from that history is, to me, very rich and exciting.
MB: Did you want to plant a stake in the ground and say ‘Here I am, this is what I want Vince to be’? Or did you want to build more slowly?
PE: This is a much bigger company than my own was. This is not a ship that takes sharp turns. It’s a gradual process of pointing it in a new direction and that takes a minute. It’s also not a company —and never will be, which is on purpose—that will take drastic seasonal changes. We’re not interested in being tied to that six-month fashion cycle. For that reason it’s a gradual turn, which is necessary.
MB: So how does a collection go from idea to actual garments?
PE: It’s like a mood and zeitgeist that gets set. You see that with the fall collection. We’re leaning into this elevated California aesthetic, but with a little nostalgia mixed in. We’ve defined a place, but now we’re defining a time, a time of year and a mood. And honing in on that involves photographic research, fabric research. It involves color, and that alchemy of those things coming together—that gives birth to the collection.
MB: Now that you’ve been at the brand for a year, do you have an idea of where you’d like to take Vince?
PE: Of course. There’s many parts of that, too, from the product, in its most pure and simple form, to our Vince menswear Instagram account, which we launched two weeks ago. It’s still a baby.
MB: Vince and your own brand are known for being understated. Do you find it hard to communicate that in a time where social media encourages people to be flashy?
PE: We are in a loud moment, especially in menswear. Fashion is always about reaction, and Vince finds itself in this opposite space that opens up on the other side. The cycle is exhausting and has maybe already exhausted itself, and I don’t think it’s a game we need to play.
MB: Have you seen people on the street wearing your collection?
PE: I’ve seen many people actually. It’s exciting. I have to stop myself from staring and smiling. It’s a brand that has a much more mass reach. I think as of this week it’s shifted entirely to my product, so that’s a long time, a full year to it being all my designs.
MB: You’re a year into living in L.A.— is there anything in particular you’ve come to love about the city?
PE: I’ve discovered the pleasures of driving. At first I was kind of like: Ugh. But it’s actually kind of amazing. You’ll be in the car and a song comes on the radio, or there’s a certain light, and there’s something really special about it. I never thought it would be something that I would like, but I’ve come to really love it. I have a—it sounds more fancy than it is—but I have a convertible Mercedes. It’s neither nice-new or nice-old, it’s somewhere in-between, but it’s a fun car to have in L.A. I feel like if I’m moving here, I might as well.