Mr John Elliott’s Californian Style Heroes
Musician Mr Hanni El Khatib. Photograph courtesy of Innovative Leisure
We catch up with the Californian designer as his MR PORTER capsule collection lands on site.
Today is a big day for MR PORTER. We are excited to launch Made In California – 12 exclusive capsule collections from 12 West Coast-based brands – which is a project we’ve been beavering away on for the past six months. You can read more about it in _The Journal _this coming Thursday, but here on The Daily we will be shining a light on each of the participants in turn over the coming days, to introduce their respective collections.
Mr John Elliott
We’re starting with Mr John Elliott who has become one of the leading lights in US menswear since he launched his eponymous brand in 2012. “The idea as it was pitched was to showcase the vibe and aesthetic of California, and I was immediately excited because I’m proud of where I’m from, you know?” says Mr Elliott. “I’ve lived in San Francisco, that’s where I was born and raised, and now I’ve lived in LA for seven years. So I feel like I really embody a California kid.”
The John Elliott SS17 collection was called Watching Water, in honour of its subtle poolside/vacation feel. This capsule is a continuation of the same story, with a complementary colour palette of muted greens, blues, greys and pinks, and lightweight fabrics such as linens and basketweave cottons feels summery fresh and clean.
Mr Elliott himself has become something of a poster boy for California cool, but who were the local heroes he idolised growing up and who has informed his aesthetic? We asked him for his top five influences…
Mr Bo Jackson, NFL and MLB All-Star
Mr Bo Jackson in Chicago, 6 August 1991. Photograph by Mr Fred Jewell/AP/REX Shutterstock
“When I was a little kid, Bo Jackson was such an important athlete to me. I felt he was a little bit overshadowed by Michael Jordan just in terms of how their respective shoes were marketed [by Nike] and how, in my opinion I felt like their shoes were received culturally. So I, at eight years old, felt like it was worth extending Nike my thoughts!
“We were going through a desk yesterday and we looked at the letter I received back. I hadn’t looked at that Nike letter for probably two or three years. It was like, ‘God, I cannot believe that that’s real!’ I can't believe that that’s actually happened. But it’s nice to have that reminder every once in a while and look at that and be like, ‘Wow!’ I feel lucky to work with them now. We’re working on a John Elliott Vandal sneaker, which will be debuting in the near future. The amazing thing that I can say about working with Nike is that it’s exceeded my wildest expectations.”
Mr Pat Duffy, San Francisco skater
“Pat Duffy was a skater from my hometown [San Anselmo] near San Francisco. He was one of my first heroes from when I was really young – in fact he grew up down the street from me and I knew his younger brother. He was a local god, had real style, was in all the skate videos and he was really a key figure in San Francisco in the heyday of skating in the city. To a really young kid like me, this idea that there was this counterculture movement taking place in the city that you were born in that was affecting the rest of the world was super inspiring because this was pre-internet, this was pre-social media and so the world felt a little bit bigger in a sense, to me at least.
“It felt like such a reach to ever think you could be in magazines or work with cool brands, and so witnessing his rise and success was eye-opening. From there I began to notice how a lot of guys in the skate culture started to open up and operate their own businesses, and instead of signing with major brands, they were starting their own brands – and that became the formula for what I wanted to do.”
Mr Hanni El Khatib, musician
Photograph courtesy of Innovative Leisure
“He’s from San Francisco and he embodies very much what I do – a kid from San Francisco who has diverse interests. He definitely has his own unique sound. It’s a post-punk rock vibe, but he also is cool with skaters, he’s cool with kids in LA who rap, he DJs on the side, he doesn't necessarily fit into a box. That’s for the most part how I feel as well. People try and label John Elliot, like at the beginning it was ‘a basics brand’, and we were really known as a brand that had great success with a couple sweatshirts and some sweatpants. And then from there we became ‘an active brand’, and now people are starting to refer to us as an ‘American sportswear brand’.
“It's really hard to label kids where I was from in San Francisco because the city was small and you were constantly surrounded by all sorts of different interests, which meant that you had to be pretty well-rounded culturally. And I think that's what California’s about: understanding surf culture, understanding skate culture, understanding underground hip-hop and the hustle of pushing out music and doing it yourself, while also understanding the punk movement from the 1980s and early 1990s.”
Mr Simon Miller, LA denim designer
“Simon who started Simon Miller [before going on to create some other denim brands] has been extremely influential in my life. In 2011, I was doing wholesale and I’d saved up $15,000. I was in New York and I called Simon and asked if I could come and do an apprenticeship with him pro bono, he wouldn't have to pay me anything. He was like, ‘You’re crazy, why would you do that? Why would you want to do that? Dude, this is not a very glamorous life, let me tell you.’ But I just had my heart set on trying to understand the landscape that is Downtown LA and have some ideas come to life and Simon was gracious enough to welcome me into his small office where I worked with him for about a year.
“At that time, Simon had already departed from Simon Miller, but Dan [current Simon Miller designer Mr Daniel Corrigan] was down the hall, so it was really an interesting time, because Dan, Simon, and I were hanging out almost on a daily basis and I would look at what Simon was doing with Fabric-Brand & Co and then I would look at what Dan was doing for Simon Miller and then I was developing my line. Simon, who I consider a close friend and who I still look up to, was extremely influential in not only my upbringing but I would say probably in Dan’s as well. Simon paved the way for a lot of the denim movement that you see doing well coming out of California now.”
Mr Steve Jobs, entrepreneur
Mr Steve Jobs at an Apple Special Event in San Francisco, 27 January 2010. Photograph by Mr Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
“This is going to sound cliché, and I wish I had somebody maybe who was less obvious than this, but it’s pretty hard not to absorb and read as much as you can about Steve Jobs and not admire just how relentless he was. I feel like I’ve tried to absorb every bit of information that I could about him and just how passionate he was for bending the world into a view that made sense to where he thought the world should be.
“He’s definitely someone that in terms of drive and in terms of passion and commitment that I look to all the time because if you’re trying to fight your own cause, you constantly are running up against roadblocks. You can run into moments where things get tough, but if you really stay committed, then it’s really crazy how you’re able to alter your own reality, and I think that he’s probably the best example ever of that.”
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