Saturday, November 6, 2010

THEIR YEAR: Interview with the twentyten

Jeff Dodd, David J. Krause, and Nina Zilka met while studying fashion design at Pratt Institute. During their sophomore year they realized they shared the belief that American fashion can be both conceptual and accessible. The following year they came together to form the twentyten.

the twentyten creates avant-garde pieces that remain functional for everyday life, juxtaposing hand-crafted fabrications against a futuristic design sensibility. Their collection is currently housed in some of the most progressive boutiques in NYC.

As a member of the Pratt Design Incubator for Sustainable Innovation the twentyten is dedicated to creating morally responsible clothing.
You seem to be one of the few emerging labels that retains complete control over the way your clothes are presented. Can you talk a little bit about presentation- what have you done in the past, what do you think works/ what doesn't work for you?

We really enjoy collaborating with fellow artists and designers every season because it's exciting and inspriring and also a nice way to spend time with friends we don't usually see. We worked with Eva Mueller, the video artist two seasons back and she made a wonderful video presentation to play over our show. We've also worked with Elle Rex and Mathew Barela, Fake Love and We Came in Peace for two other video lookbooks... those are always a unique expereince since none of the twentyten has any training in film or video and so it's cool to see our work melded with someone else's ideas. This season we also worked with Carrie Bilbo, the jewelry designer, who made some pieces based on our collection... that was so amazing, to see our inspirations and ideas used in a totally different material, metal as opposed to fabric. On the other hand, working with other people is a very fine balance... what works least for us is when we feel like we are losing creative control of our product, which is why we are very protective of working with PR, production companies and stylists directly on our shows. I imagine we can be difficult to work with because we tend to think multifaceted- from our clothes, to the invite, to the lookbook layout to the layout of the show.... but at the same time, it's exactly that extreme attention to detail that allows us to have such a tight and cohesive product.

The collection currently in stores is really sharp, really black. So many times designers cite using black as a way to show detail or really stress silhoutette, etc. How do you approach black/use black?
Well, we actually moved pretty far away from that for the new Spring/Summer collection, and even right now as we are designing for Fall 2011, we are less interested in black. For the collection in EVA right now, we were very interested in working with texture and silhouette, and, like you said, black makes it easy to make that the main focus. I think those structural pieces and the yarn pieces really pop because they are in black. But now we're all really excited about a lot of color... like over-saturated color... and tons and tons of prints with simpler silhouettes for Spring.

You probably get the process question all the time as you're a three-member team. Regardless, we'll ask it- what is your process like? Who takes care of what?

The design is all done together, 100%. We usually spend a few weeks pulling inspirations and showing each other images, and then we start drawing together until we narrow the collection down to the pieces we really want. After that we can all start working on pieces... David might start patterning one specific pant while Jeff sews the silk and I iron all the seams for him or something...the collection does change, since sometimes we make a piece that we were excited about in a sketch, and then see it and it just doesn't work. Then we have to literally go back to the drawing board and come up with something new that excited us.

You do both menswear and womenswear, and I know from being in the store that a lot of guys will try on some of your women's pieces. How is designing for men and women different for you?

Interesting question... we go back and forth on menswear. On the one hand, the twentyten is made up of two boys and one girl, so the boys obviously want something by us to wear out and get photographed in. However, none of us are particularly inspired by or excited by menswear, definitely not the same way we are constantly excited by womenswear. After our Spring/Summer season, we are thinking we may skip it for fall. There is great menswear out there, but it usually lies in the details, and maybe we aren't the designers to make those garments. I wish there were more men who wore things like our womens' pieces, but sadly, the majority of women are willing to take more fashion risks than men.
Do you wear your own clothing a lot?

Nina does, yes... constantly. She's been slowly cleaning out her wardrobe, so at this point it's probably 97% the twentyten, 3% other. As we said above, the boys have much less they can wear since we've designed much less menswear.
What are your favorite pieces in the store right now?

The shoulder cardigan x10000000. Nina wears hers every single day, and all of our friends have been begging for them.

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