Dear iDEALS, about a month ago, the Director of Polimoda, Mme Linda Loppa, invited me to Italy to participate in a table discussion debate, focusing on fashion's past and present, in connection to Florence.
Among the ten participants was also 30 year old Erik Bjerkesjo, this year's winner for Pitti's "WHO IS ON NEXT" competition. Swedish Bjerkesjo, a Polimoda graduate, focuses on footwear, learning the trade through a variety of internships with skilled Tuscan craftsmen.
The designer launched his own brand as soon as he graduated, now divides his time between Sweden and Vinci, the birthplace village of Leonardo Da Vinci, where he does all his shoe production.
His first step into design were a collection men's shoes, until recently, when Erik launched into clothes...
TRANSMISSION: Art Direction Magnus Liljebergh Photographer Magnus Klackenstam
Model KRISTIAN ÅKERGREN Hair JOSEFIN SHERDIN Make Up JOSEFIN SHERDIN
FilepMotwary: Erik, you just won "WHO IS ON NEXT", what is the competition about, your prize and what are the benefits of participating in such a contest?
ErikBjerkesjo: The competition is about finding new talents who produce in Italy and have already presented at least two collections. Its about up-coming designers who bring something fresh and new. This time I won and it feels fantastic.
Some of the benefits are to present and sell you product on e-pitti.com, an amount of money as a prize as well as the opportunity to present your work next season at the Pitti Immagine Uomo, be futured in L'Uomo Vogue as well as meeting new buyers and press.
EB: Its sets its base from my handmade shoes and I got inspired how a shoemaker looks while working, also by the shoemakers that i work with in Tuscany, They get a bit dirty but they are always very dressed up, that I found inspiring and that is how I could describe the collection feels like, in my eyes a new post modern gentleman, that ends up spending far to many hours painting or working with craftsmanship.
FM: How did everything start for you really? Where did you study and how everything evolved after?
EB: I studied and got my Master in fashion footwear design advanced at Polimoda in 2009. It was during my final school project that I got introduced to some shoemakers in a small village in Tuscany and there I started a good contact during and after my final exam.
I worked very closely with my teacher Patrick De Muynck and Polimoda's headmaster Linda Loppa.
On the same day I finished school I presented my work at Luisa Via Roma and shortly after I moved to Stockholm to get involved with some stil-life photographers and amazing art directors. Keeping my contact with Linda Loppa, she became my mentor and she has been helping me a lot since then, something for which I am so thankful for.
Polimoda introduced for the first time 'Future Lab' which means that from now on they will be promoting a new talent each year.
I presented my first real presentation at Villa Favard palace in Florence during Pitti Uomo last season and was truly surprised to see the amount of so many amazing people who came to visit my installation, the likes of Ferruccio Ferragamo, Lapo Cianchi & Tim Blanks.
Short time after that I got an invitation to participate as finalist to become 'Who is on Next?'. This process matured me.. Now I have collaborations with other designers, started with new stockists at in stores around Europeas well as working in my own atelier.
GALOP MARQUIS: Art Direction Magnus Liljebergh Photographer Magnus Klackenstam
MODEL KRISTIAN ÅKERGREN HAIR TONY LUNDSTRÖM MAKE UP JOSEFIN SHERDIN
FM: Why you have chosen fashion as your profession in the first place.
EB: I think everything started in my mothers atelier when I was a little boy, I remember that I thought it was very cool to create looks, and my whole childhood was around "creating the look. By the time I applied to Polimoda it felt I was ready to become a designer. I was in a post-rock band before I moved to fashion. Today while at work, it has exactly the same feeling I had as a musician making a song. I always have a song reference in everything I do. I love the feeling you can get by listening a song by Frederic Chopin to Joy Division and I want to express myself in the same way by making something beautiful.
FM: How did you form the Erik Bjerkesjo hero / the man you dress?
EB: I think by wanting to express the feeling I get and the character I picture when I listen to music that moves me, movies I grew up watching and the architecture I feel as inspiring to me: then the man I dress appears.
FM: So, Erik, who is this man?
EB: A man with good taste and a personal characteristic look. The ideal man today that would fit my collection perfectly would be Adrian Brody.
FM: And what about the shoes you design. What is your philosophy. What do you think of feet in general?
EB: I made the last myself and I am doing shoes that are entirely handmade. The shoes are made by an older generation of shoemakers that are masters on how they construct them. I also have a certificate from that region that shows its been controlled and made in a old classic way. I am aiming to be involved in everything I design and produce, that I find very interesting and I am doing shoes myself by hand
Feet are a fragile part of our body and we need to feel good when standing on them. :)
THIS BRIGHT FLASH: Art Direction Magnus Liljebergh Photographer Magnus Klackenstam
MODEL ROGER DUPé HAIR TONY LUNDSTRÖM MAKE UP LINDA GRADIN
FM: Do you feel fashion is changing? To which direction?
EB:I feel fashion is getting a bit more personal. Some menswear designers are very unique and have fantastic products! Although great,Fashion should slow a bit down and focus on getting more personal and better made in terms of craft. The making of organic products today is amazing, so I am very positive about this change , the future.
EB:Focus on construction and production, go with design that speaks to yourself and that you can show in a artistic way, work hard and listen to a lot of different music.
FM: What shall we expect from you in the near future?
EB:I am working hard for next season, so expect a presentation with a second step closer to a post-modern-craftsman...for the new collection.
Erik Bjerkesjo is represented by Marlo Saalmink PR Thank you so much Marlo!!!
SHOES: Art Direction Magnus Liljebergh photographer – PHILIP KARLBERG
SHAPES – JOEL JUNGSJÖ & MAGNUS LILJEBERGH