WHAT ELSE? is a series for Highsnobiety by writer/director Paul Black. What’s it all about? Call it the "What Else Factor," a person with something else besides the thing(s) he or she is usually known for. What else is on the cards? What else should we know? The style of each piece is spontaneous and intuitively responsive to the Voice of its subject at the time of the interview. Next up, Errolson Hugh.
There’s a quote that says the work that goes into Acronym® garments has “more thought than the Pentagon put into the invasion in Iraq.” There’s no doubt Acronym® co-founder Errolson Hugh puts every ounce of his vast knowledge and skill set into everything he creates, and there’s no denying he’s one of the most important fashion designers working today. But that comparison is kind of like comparing his work to a guy flipping great burgers.
We recently met on a Saturday for lunch in Berlin, where he kind of lives. He usually lives out of a suitcase, between Berlin and Brooklyn (where his business partner/ex-girlfriend/mother of his two-year-old son Michaela Sachenbacher lives) and traverses the globe fulfilling too many responsibilities as designer of Stone Island Shadow Project and Herno Laminar, amongst other gigs. Berlin is where the madness makes sense in real terms. This is where he keeps his studio and does his designing - through many sleepless nights.
Errolson is Canadian, specifically from Edmonton, which explains why he doesn’t take himself seriously, only the work, and he’s always more than happy to share his wisdom and experience. We first met when I needed to pick his brains for a Highsnobiety article for our most recent print issue ("Waterproof for the Sartorialist," Issue 8 2014). What I didn’t bargain for was the sheer depth and scope of his knowledge. The guy has a fashion encyclopaedia in his brain. It was like being in a master class on waterproofing. He has direct, hands-on experience in the development and integration of every conceivable technical fabric being used today.
Errolson’s What Else list of collaborators is like a who’s who of technical brands: Tilak, KHS Tactical, Arc’Teryx, Burton Snowboards, iDiom, Analog USA, GORE-TEX®, Bagjack, Massimo Osti, Herno Laminar, Stone Island, United Arrows Japan and more. Currently in the early stages of development is a new project with one of the top research institutes in America on a special, highly functional and activity specific coat. There is another brand collaboration with a household name in the works, but details of the project are strictly under wraps. However from the prototypes I saw at the studio, it is going to blow your mind.
The mothership of Errolson’s world is and always will be Acronym®. It is brainy, technical, and far from cheaply made. If you look at the gear closely, and compare it to something like Arc’Teryx Veilance - of which Errolson was one of the original hands in its creation, you’ll see that what Errolson, Michaela and the very small Acronym® team are able to accomplish on a shoestring is truly amazing. It’s definitely worth saving up for, as many of his young collectors do.
The critical proof of Errolson’s pedigree is down to a number of reasons. Firstly, he’s still in business. Secondly, Stone Island basically lets him do what he wants. Thirdly, the Acronym® Analog MD Clone Jacket was one of TIME magazine’s 'Coolest Inventions of 2002,' while the Acronym® GT-J5A jacket has sparked it's own imitators, with Gucci copying it in their most recent runway show. Lastly, because the proof is in the pudding. Judge for yourself.
What else? Well, Errolson’s the guy who models all the gear. He’s good looking and holds a second degree black belt, so he qualifies to show you how crazy clever and versatile the Acronym® gear is in the videos. Another piece that fits the puzzle is that as encyclopaedic as he is, until he started Shadow Project for Stone Island he had no idea that Italian fashion houses have been using something called a 'Fit Guy' since it all began.
The fit guy essentially makes sure the item of clothing fits. Fernando is the fit guy at Stone Island, and he used to be at Giorgio Armani. He's been a fit guy for decades, that’s all he’s ever done. He’s called a fit guy, and it might sound simplistic, but he’s no different from the guy that checks diamonds. As Errolson describes it, Fernando’s a veritable genius. He’s also symbolic of why the Italians know how to make clothes that look great. They employ a fit guy who makes sure the thing fits. It sounds funny to repeat it over and over, but the Italians really do make off-the-peg clothes that fit regular men better than anyone else.
Errolson describes with glee his first experience working with Fernando. A fit model wears a prototype jacket while Errolson, the pattern maker, and Fernando stand there. Fernando holds a pair of fabric scissors and a stapler, while quizzing Errolson, "Slimmer? Easier drop? Slightly more bulk? What do you want? What do you see?" Errolson answers before Fernando steps up, snip-snip, staple-staple, et voila. Craftwork, real craftwork. The garment instantly looks better on the model. Errolson says it’s a wonder to watch, and he always watches carefully. “Working with Fernando has upped my game, no doubt about it,” he says.
The finer point of this story is the fact that Errolson is the first to acknowledge his debt to all those he collaborates with. As soon as you enter his studio, that’s the energy you feel - serious, chilled and gracious.
WHAT ELSE? | by Paul Black - lifelong perpetual traveler of mixed(-up) nationality, award-winning writer/director (and sometimes producer) of film and television, devoted father, serious amateur photographer, opinionated Sartorialist, meditator, fan of eccentric visionaries with something else to say. www.paulblackfilms.com