Seven years on, Erik Yvon is still 'emerging', and that's a good thing.
"Emerging" is such a deliciously loaded word in fashion right now. "It makes you think, "exciting"," says emerging Melbourne designer Erik Yvon, "It means there's mystery: "What's going to come next from this designer? Something aside, something different...".
Just a few years back, designers dubbed "emerging" were younger than most, the cleverest recent graduates finding their fashion feet. They worked hard to shuck off the tag and finally "emerge" as full blown brands.
Now it's the new black. "Emerging" is handy fashion lingo for designers such as Erik Yvon who are often seasoned professionals (he graduated from RMIT in 2014 and teaches design there now) but with a fresh, expressive and original aesthetic.
Like Erik, they're intuitively plugged into the Zeitgeist. They're experimental and collaborative in their creative practice. Their markets are usually small, niche, but also swelling now consumers - especially Gen Zs and younger Millennials - are evolving and demanding clothes they can use to reveal their individuality.
"It takes so long to be an emerging designer," Erik laughs, "The first few years after I started my label I was trying to figure out the aesthetic, the vibe, the customer, the silhouette, the fit...."
His brand is infused with that hard-won maturity and confident sense of self. "I've grown and changed a lot," he says, "My aesthetic is developed and true, but I’m still called an emerging designer. I like that."
Erik's latest collection, Soft Pawn, was inspired by memories of a kooky seafood stall in Hawaii. It's witty, beautifully wrought and runs the gamut of on-trend silhouettes, from voluminous separates in balanced mixtures of soft/fuzzy, silky/gleaming wovens and knits, to skin-skimming bodywear loaded with clacking chains and ropes of pearly accessories.
Erik collaborated on Soft Pawn with Melbourne-based graphic and textile artist Pey Chi on what he describes as its; "heaps of prawn and pearl references and odes to sea and marine life." His love of working with others is key to Erik's creative practice. "I just love to engage with fashion's future generations, hopefully get excited and can't wait to see what they create."
He says he first caught the collaboration bug during his internship with visionary designers Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett of Romance Was Born. "They were so inspiring, always collaborating, always true to themselves," Erik says. "I think they're the best representatives of Australian fashion and without (replicating) what they do, I've taken that inspiration on board."
Erik showed his Soft Pawn collection on Afterpay Australian Fashion Week's Next Gen runway this year, one of only four selected from a nationwide pool of emerging brands. "We had influencers, industry partners, magazines," he says, "The show was streamed live, we got a fantastic opportunity to showcase on Ordre 360 (a business-to-business platform linking brands with retailers). My social media got a lot of traction."
A good day but Erik was as happy, soon after, to be back with his brand and teaching at RMIT. "This is what I tell my students, that there's more to just working for the bigger labels. Smaller brands can be more creative. They don't have to follow the trends and traps of routines. It's not only about making clothes. It's about being aware of what's happening around you, in your community, in the environment, being culturally aware and trying to support and work with other creatives. Take everything on board, and work it all into your brand identity."
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