TALENTS ON SHOW

...Polimoda introduces Erïk Bjerkesjö

by Federico Poletti
POLIMODA FUTURE LAB is a launching-pad, comprising shows, installations, talks, workshops and a location of outstanding artistic value devoted to the former Polimoda students, youngsters with a passionate interest in design, marketing and communication, who present their vision of the future of fashion. POLIMODA FUTURE LAB presents to the public not only designers, but also brands, events and marketing managers, content curators and web graphic designers, pattern makers, retailers and trend forecasters: what they all share is the fact that they have studied at POLIMODA and are now engaged in successful careers or are about to commence interesting professional itineraries.

In the new premises of Villa Favard, in a beautiful and ancient architectural complex, each semester the Director Linda Loppa and her team will select a young talent from among the most deserving former students to display the collections, innovative marketing concepts and communication projects of tomorrow. POLIMODA is proud to be able to present its shining stars to the city of Florence and to a network of journalists, companies, friends and fashion aficionados.

It is a project that, on the one hand is aimed at triggering synergies and work opportunities for these young talents, and on the other represents a stimulus for the Institute itself to observe how its students are growing up. A meditation on the evolution of fashion, an on-going scouting project, an educational opportunity for reflection and for building together the brands of tomorrow: POLIMODA FUTURE LAB will be all this and more. A gauntlet cast down to the future.

The first talent to be presented by POLIMODA FUTURE LAB was Erïk Bjerkesjö, a young designer, originally from Stockholm and former student on the Master in Footwear and Accessories Design (2009-2010); after graduating successfully from POLIMODA, the designer launched his own collection of clothing and accessories, marked by a minimal and contemporary aesthetic typical of the Swedish style.

Erïk Bjerkesjö's show installation presented a range of men’s footwear produced by expert Tuscan craftsmen and characterised by a state-of-the-art branded sole: a detail that embodies consummate mastery in the creation of products of the very highest quality. Adding a touch of glamour is the typical “Vienna” heel, personalised by applications in 18k gold, a tribute to the classic that allows itself to be contaminated by a contemporary aesthetic.

Erïk’s fashion is intended to define a new concept of male elegance, proposing lines that recall the sober silhouettes of the early twentieth century, but with decisive cuts, sculpted shapes, slim-fit pants and an intense colour palette. The colours take inspiration from quill-pen inks: black, lead and every shade capable of regaling a mysterious, austere and undeniably striking allure. Precise details, precious materials and exquisite skins, for a modern gentleman passionate about the most innovative tailoring.

Vogue Italia's editor and NJAL contributing editor, Federico Poletti, met up with Erik:

How does the collection belong to craftsmanship tradition?
It belongs in an atelier where love for a great product and respect for craftsmanship and tradition, and the perfect example of how a pair of shoes is made take place. In my case, the way the craftsmen work and hold the tradition, and the way I work together with them and learn and dig deeper into making my collection in the way that they do. I am a person who loves to work with my hands, and in Sweden that is not so common, there are a lot of designers, but they are not close to production. In Stockholm, where I am from, there is no craftsmanship tradition, so my collection is inspired by the people I work with in Tuscany; what they wear and how they look when they are in the atelier, the same feeling I get when I visit my friends who are artists and painters, but I also have influence from musicians from Sweden with a post punk look.

I was in a band when I was young in Sweden and I grew up as a straight edge believer, I participated in riots, for me it felt like I was against mass production, so when I started my education with a master in footwear design I really felt like doing something that wasn’t mass produced. The craftsmen are artists and I feel like I am learning more and more every day, and I believe that a craftsmanship tradition is what works for me, and I tried to show that in my collection.

Could you describe some of the pieces, not shoes, displayed at Polimoda?
Coats in wool, warm wool trousers, shirts with double collars, leather jackets with felt, and aluminium handmade frames, that turn the pieces into armour. Imagine, an Ice skating duel.

How are the soles of shoes entirely made in Tuscany?
It is made by craftsmen in the area where I make the upper of the shoes, with materials from Tuscany.

How do you match the Swedish style and taste with the 'Made in Italy' manufacturing?
I work with Swedish design, but the toe cap for example of the shoes is a Italian classic toe shape, with a Swedish industrial silhouette. I want to bring a classic Italian tradition and make it a bit more Swedish, but to be honest, I don't think that way when I am planning a collection, I just want to make it personal and well made.

Where does your professional future belong? To Italy? To Sweden?
I have recently moved from Sweden, and my future is not planned, I am always open for adventures.

What will you say during the lecture "Transmission with Erïk Bjerkesjö"?
I will talk about how to start building up a brand, what to think about in the early stages of the making, to find a red thread, how to push for quality and well made products in a hard market, what is luxury today.