Designer, pattern-maker and skateboarder, Evan Kinori, launched a collection earlier this month. He was kind enough to do a Q&A with us, where we got to talk style and skateboarding. Check it out bellow and visit his website here.
Not to be that guy - but tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Philadelphia, raised in Milford, Connecticut. Started skateboarding at 11 due to my friend Trevor Thompson informing me that rollerblades were wack - thanks Trevor. This moment certainly altered the course for my formative years... Two weeks after high school, I moved to San Francisco with some friends to go to college and skate the city. Eventually I found myself in a pattern-making & design program and everything started to click and for the first time I learned how to work really hard at something other than skating.
How did you first get into design and, for lack of a better word, fashion? Also, where do you get most of your design inspiration?
Mostly I credit skateboarding for my interest in design, and more specifically, skateboard footwear. I think I've always been picky and had my own taste, but something about skate shoes consumed me starting when I was about 15.
You have to remember that at the time, no one was rocking the classics and Vans wasn’t even making the originals. It was a strange time for skateboard shoes - everyone was into overly obvious technology and heavy handed branding. Sooner or later I discovered Ipath, a company started by Matt Field. Still to this day, that era of Ipath was the best art direction, team, and footwear skateboarding has produced. It was these shoes that made me realize it was possible to create a product that is functional, comfortable, durable, and that looks good. Especially a product that looks even better with age - this is a tough one for skate shoes as they get destroyed so quick and then you got super glue all over your toe...
This may seem unrelated but all of these experiences and concepts led me to my approach with garment design and pattern-making now - I want to make stuff that I can wear every day and ride my bike, skate, hike, and basically feel unrestrained in - but when I look down, not feel like I got super glue on my toe. I’m not sure if that analogy came full circle but basically I only really dig natural fibers (cotton, hemp, linen, wool, etc.) so without stretch, you need clothes that are comfortable and a little relaxed, but still taper in the right places to articulate form and look a bit more refined.
As for inspiration, the best quote is again from my friend Matt Field, 'that’s like asking a magician how he does his tricks' - inspiration comes from everything really - the totality of the human experience. The foundation for my approach is probably found in nostalgia mostly - beginning with clothes I snagged as a teenager from my parents, like a band collar pop-over that was my mom's from the sixties. Something about the age and story of a product, especially clothing, really struck me. In all of our day-to-day lives, we use clothing more than we use just about any other product, so if they are constructed to last a long time in terms of their fit, aesthetic, and the way they are sewn - they will be able to tell a bigger story. As for now, sometimes ideas start from a minute little detail found on a 1950's US Military issue trouser, and other times its more abstract and I just get hit with a random thought and have to scribble it down on my hand.
Vintage clothing plays a huge roll in making informed design decisions - I think it’s extremely important to understand what came before, in order to create authentic and meaningful products. Textiles also play such a huge role for men's clothing - I like to think that the exterior is for the fabric to be appreciated, so it should remain uncluttered, then the interior becomes the focal point and is were my product becomes unique. I try to evaluate where a garment will be in 5 or 10 years and what issues it will have, and then try to ensure they are put together in a way to endure that timespan. Every kick press button and rivet has a leather washer behind it, so that as fabric is worn and washed over years and becomes softer, the leather alleviates any stress from the buttons. I only use a certain type of thread that's produced in the USA and is really strong and difficult to break. I try to pattern and fit every garment to be relaxed in the right places so you don’t blow out the crotch in the pants or armholes in a shirt or jacket. I like to think of this approach as being subtly technical...It's just that in the place of exterior bells and whistles, the product is designed in less visible ways though construction details and pattern-making.
How long have you been making your own garments and what are some things that fuel your creative and production process?
I've been making wearable pieces since about 3 years ago - I was so frustrated with my schoolwork being all women's clothing projects that I asked my friend Brian Downey to teach me how to make a 5 panel hat. Next I studied alongside my friend Nicholas Kemp. He would change the way I look at garment construction forever. Nicholas taught himself how to make the best blue jean the world has ever seen, and his ethos of building clothes that last a lifetime or more certainly rubbed off on me. Slowly I was gaining the skill-set to create the clothing I had always wanted to wear - I wanted to make stuff for myself first and foremost, and it's kind of the same now.
Also coffee fuels most anything I do, but as of last week I'll say my new work space is pushing me forward creatively. It's an old art studio located in a building that was built in 1907. The owner sectioned it out to be affordable work spaces for different artists in the 1960's and it still carries the same vibe - my neighbor down the hall has been there since 1973 and she's pretty far out!
How much work goes into putting together one piece? Give us some insight into sourcing materials and your production process.
That’s pretty hard to quantify - but generally one piece involves an original idea, pattern-making that idea, sewing a test or first sample, tweaking the sample and patterns back and forth until they both are right, then handing off the patterns for grading and marker making. The more time you spend with a garment, the more little things you start to notice and realize there are better ways to do certain things - they evolve over time and experience.
Raw materials are quite literally the building blocks for garments - if you start with crap materials, chances are your end product ain’t gonna be so good. Sometimes people start with good materials and it still don’t end so good - there’s a lot of variables to garment design and construction, most of which are unknown to the general public. How a garment is patterned and put together determines the quality and lifespan as much, if not more that the fabric or buttons do.
Do you have a favorite article of clothing?
It changes from time to time but currently - vintage B&L sunglasses, Yuketen boots, Chamula beanie, my chambray Field Shirt and selvedge Japanese white canvas Four Pocket Pant.
Do you have any other artistic creative outlets (other than skating)?
I think the best answer is probably my workspace - that’s a major outlet for tinkering and self-expression. I like taking polaroids from time to time and really like working with super 8 film - getting to work on photography projects with my friend Ulysses Ortega and videos with Allen Danze for my website is really amazing for me - the metamorphosis from initial idea to finished product is super exciting in any medium.
Let’s talk about skating. Do you think your artistic/creative temperament was somewhat inspired by skateboarding or do you think its more the other way around?
You'd probably have to ask my parents more than me. It's hard to separate the chicken from the egg when so much takes place in your adolescence. Skateboarding plays a huge role in who I am and how I view the world, without a doubt.
Do you have a favorite trick or spot?
The Nate Jones special - half cab flip, 360 flip, backside flip. Skating down Balboa street from 42nd to the beach in SF is pretty unreal. Otherwise, Paris is probably my favorite place I've been to with my skateboard.
Is there a video part that stands out as inspirational from when you were younger?
There are many, but for starters: Matt Field in Real to Reel, Kenny Reed in Seven Year Glitch, Nate Jones in Real to Reel, Jason Dill and AVE in Photosynthesis, Jake Rupp in Static 1, Rob Pluhowski in anything, Tim O’Connor in Eastern Exposure, Ocean Howell in the Ipath promo, Bobby Puleo in La Luz, this goes on for longer than anyone is going to care to read...
What skaters or skate brands inspire you currently, if any?
Nowadays I'm more into watching my friends skate. As I grow older, I appreciate someone’s style or approach more when I know and like them as a person first. But if I had to name a few, Trevor Thompson, Matias Elichabehere, Ben Gore, Matt Field, Ryan Barlow, Ryan Lay, Soy Panday, Zach Lyons, Jason Spivey is really rad - you can literally watch him bail and it looks good. Sometimes I watch contemporary videos but there’s just so many that come out - I will say that a recent line of Alex Olson where he did a back 360 kickflip on flatground had me tripping out - that’s some concrete evolution of skateboarding because nobody was capable of doing that shit and making it look that good a few years back...
*His work is available online (website posted above), at Reliquary (San Francisco) , and by appointment at his studio (63 Bluxome Street, San Francisco) or on Saturdays 12-5pm. Later this fall his goods will also be available at CPCM, a new shop opening in Tokyo.