As creative director of Vane, a cutting-edge New York design collective, Eric Poon has injected a globally influenced mishmash of ideas into a slew of co-branded fashion products, including a limited-edition line for Sebago that hits retail this week. Here, Poon gives us a taste of what sparks his creativity and how even old standbys can be infused with new vivacity. —Leslie Shiers
1. A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another
Vane believes global cultures and conflicts hugely impact fashion. Tell us more about the collective’s philosophy.
As the Internet continues to connect a wider group of disparate peoples and cultures, I think the idea of cultural diaspora will have a growing role in global fashion trends. I think we’ll continue to see designers mix and match, clash and combine from a
visual and costume vocabulary that spans not just the space of continents but also collapsing time periods. There is already a huge trend of pulling classic and heritage styles, and I think that it will start to get interesting as designers begin to exhaust these themes and must get really creative to produce something unique.
How did this factor into your Spring ’10 collaboration with Sebago?
The new line, “Future Heritage,” embodies the conflict I see between traditional styles and crafting methods versus the idea of the future, with great synthetic fabrics and modern methods. I introduced some interesting fabrics like Ballistic Denier Cordura and 3M Reflective Gassine that read very modern, and a lot of the detailing is Japanese influenced. These concepts are juxtaposed against Sebago’s classic Americana, and I think the end result is an interesting take on a staple silhouette.
How can a brand known for authentic, classic product stay fresh given the constantly changing tides of fashion?
What initially attracted us to working with Sebago was that it has a very pure, American brand heritage. They’ve been handcrafting shoes since 1946, and I think a lot of the core values that have allowed the brand to survive for so long—quality, passion and craftsmanship—have a ton of currency in today’s market. As long as a brand can translate these ideas to the consumer and keep an open mind on the design side, it will always have a way to stay relevant.
You’ve partnered with other shoe brands, too. What excites you about footwear design?
I grew up like most other kids wanting every pair of new Jordans, and since I’ve been old enough to buy things for myself I’ve been pretty obsessed with footwear. It’s one of the few fashion categories that are culturally acceptable for guys to be creative with on a daily basis. Aside from a watch, shoes are something a guy wears every day that speaks volumes about his personality. As a designer, what I love about footwear is that it’s so accessible. It transcends so many boundaries that normally exist in fashion—even reaching people who could care less about fashion.