Meet Ervin Latimer, Young Designer of the Year
We had a chance to sit down and have a nice chat with Ervin Latimer, the Young Designer of the Year. This down-to-earth guy is a fashion designer, writer, and queer artist. Alongside of his (plain cool) design projects, Ervin is already known of his opinions about the representation of marginalized people. Have a read and find out what the designer says about representation, inspiration, and ofc. fashion!
Hi Ervin, what’s up?
Just great! The past few months have been pretty full on. Especially last week was quite a ride due to the Young Designer of the Year Award and the launch of my collection collaboration with Vallila.
You just won the Young Designer of the Year award. If you wouldn’t have won this one, which award would you like to win?
I would love to win an award in something where I’m not good at all. Like figure skating. I hate ice-skating…hah!
Thinking back – could you name one single choice point that led to where you are now?
Yea. The decision to move to Italy. Back then, there was a lot going in my personal life and things were not perfect. I was thinking should I stay or should I go and luckily, I decided to go. I am here now because of that decision.
You spent the last few years abroad working for Alyx and later Heliot Emil. I’d say Italy gives and Italy takes… How would you describe the years you spent in Italy and Denmark?
Those years were educational ones. During those few years, I learned a lot professionally, but more importantly, I learned about my boundaries. Those years taught me what I really wanted to do. Working in fashion can be tough. I think nobody works in fashion because it’s just fun to work and to get rich. I noticed that I need to give some more time to myself, so eventually I came back to Finland. All in all, the biggest outcome was for sure to understand my own finiteness.
Saying YES or NO – which one is more important.
NO, for sure. It’s way more difficult to say no, but by now I have learned its importance.
What inspires you?
People. People I spot from social media, and more importantly individuals who are working and devoted to the representation of marginalized people, although they might not get anything from it for themselves. People who work hard with difficult subjects and try to make a difference.
How to stay creative?
Well, I have two answers, boring one and a more interesting one. Boring answer: I try to rest as much as possible. Interesting answer: I try my best to meet interesting people. I also try my best to keep my mind and eyes open for new things. The key is to be open-minded for things that at the first sight might sound uninteresting. I try to take myself out of my comfort zone by for example attending an exhibition or watching a documentary about a subject that at the first I might not “get”.
In your own words, tell us what you are trying to say with your work?
In everything creative I do, I strive to tell about my heritage and background as a brown homosexual Finn. Representation of marginalized people is a big part of my life and work. In the big picture, I try to bring people from margins to the front of the scene.
Fashion industry’s social role and breaking norms seem to be close to your heart. Do you see the fashion industry breaking or maintaining norms?
Both can be true. The fashion industry maintains norms, but at the same time, some groups and individuals are passionately trying to change things. Paradoxically, some brands brake norms by choosing one model from minority groups. In the end, I think this kind of approach only strengthens norms.
Are there any fashion industry clichées you would like to change?
Yes! I know some people think that fashion is just glamour. But the truth is that it’s far from glamour. This industry is based on relationships, exclusivity, and who has most of the power. Paradoxically, while you are asked to be creative and create new things, the industry itself is extremely old-dated.
You made a 2ndCycle collection with Vallila. How do you choose your projects?
There must be some meaning behind every project. I’ve been lucky in a way that each of my projects has had that seed of change and I haven’t had to say “Yes” just for the pay check. But of course, I gotta eat hah hah.
Fashion in Finland in 2020?
I hope that we are finally getting rid of this thought that when it comes to fashion, Finland is in the middle of nowhere. I also hope that young designers get opportunities and succeed in those. It doesn’t matter who it is: in the big picture, if one makes it, it helps us all. I see a lot of potential, but I am worried if this potential has a chance to bloom. Plus, we need some money and investors who would see the potential as well.
What are you dreaming about and what makes you happy?
During summer I dreamt of good sleep. But now as my projects are kind of done I am dreaming about change. I dream that you can succeed while being in marginal. I also dream about buying my grannies’ old house in Nahkela.
Ervin 2030 – where do you see yourself?
In 2030, I’ll have my own brand. A brand that identifies Finnish. I hope the brand – but more importantly its message – reaches as wide of an audience as possible. But to be honest, these times we live in are quite weird, so let’s just hope everything is fine in 2030.
What after this interview, I mean right after?
I’m heading to lunch. Sushi perhaps.