Speaking down a WhatsApp video call from his kitchen in Los Angeles, John Elliott said that he was only freshly touched-down from a trip to check in with his partner suppliers for bags, shoes, and tailoring in Northern Italy. “It’s so nice to be home, but also when you’re traveling and experiencing new foods, new architecture, new things in general—that discovery is so vital to feeling human and also to me as a creative. Because it triggers thoughts.”
This fall 21 collection, by contrast, was shaped when Elliott and everybody else in California were sequestered deep in lockdown. And the thoughts that lockdown triggered were: “that there have to be better days ahead, and that when those better days come, you will need to evolve. So that was the genesis and we wanted to focus on subtle change.”
The change Elliott wants his brand to evolve towards is an elevated expansion of his established menswear discourse. Sometimes this was achieved by applying fresh fabrication techniques to familiar materials, such as separates cut in flocked denim that were then sanded to reveal the architecture of the seam structures beneath. Other times it entailed crafting fresh shape and texture, as in a pair of wide twisted seam white-painted pants. Then there was the Italianate use of noble materials in a technical manner on workwear/military templates, as in waterproofed parkas and jackets in leathers. Key also was a broadening of footwear to take in technical sandals, the in-house sneaker, semi-formal derby shoes, sleek Vibram soled hikers, and suede house slippers.
Elliott said that some of the outerwear, canvas in construction and militaria in origin, was drawn from his memories of his Vietnam-veteran uncle’s post-service wardrobe—another telling case of changing context leading to an evolution. More specific to Elliot himself were the polar fleece zip-up hoodies that were Japan-crafted jacquards developed by the designer, and his overdyed splodgey mohair pieces originally inspired by a night at Berghain that ended a little messily thanks to the peanut M&M’s he’d stashed in his white jeans. Increasingly sophisticated yet consistently rooted in the identity and aesthetic that has got his brand this far, Elliott’s emphasis on elevation seems eminently sustainable within his creative ecosystem.