Next up on the roster of catwalkers turning to other careers: Erin Wasson.
This story first appeared in the August 7, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The model-stylist-skating enthusiast has added clothing designer to her résumé, hammering out a three-year deal to design Erin Wasson for Rvca, the spring 2009 collection of which has been snapped up by Opening Ceremony.
It was, fittingly, at the beach that Wasson first came onto the radar of Rvca founder and pooh-bah of all things Orange County — that would be surfing, skating and tagging — Pat “PM” Tenore. Two years ago, Tenore’s teenage son was participating in a shoot for Australian Vogue at Bondi Beach, where Wasson was the hired model and the main attraction. “He came home and said, ‘Dad, I met the raddest girl!’” says Tenore, who founded the surf- and skate-inspired clothing company out of his Costa Mesa, Calif., garage nearly seven years ago. “I had met her at Rvca parties, so I called her up to see what she was working on, and she had all these amazing ideas. She has a very strong view on what she likes, and she’s a natural at design.”
Amid fashion circles, beyond gracing campaigns from H&M to Balenciaga, Wasson, 26, is perhaps best known for her collaboration with Alexander Wang, whose last two shows she styled and for whom she has served as a sort of in-house muse (Wasson met Wang when he moved into an apartment two floors below hers in Manhattan’s East Village). “Tomboy chic” is what Wasson deems their shared aesthetic — scrawny tanks, lots of denim. “We have the same thought about what a girl should look like,” she says. “Strong girls who are really confident.” Wasson’s jewelry line, Low Luv, was also featured in Wang’s fall 2008 show, though she recently came under fire in the blogosphere for the line’s similarities to designer Bliss Lau’s body chains. “I have the utmost respect for Bliss Lau,” says Wasson. “I admire and appreciate what she has done for the jewelry industry.”
Though they remain good friends, Wasson and Wang are no longer professionally tied, which has freed her to craft a collection that pretty much mirrors her daily uniform and will most likely speak to exactly the kind of woman Wasson is: active and unafraid to show a little skin. For spring, there are Pima cotton tank tops and denim cutoffs, a wool miniskirt and a silk button-down emblazoned with tiny thunderbolts, even a jaunty blazer with an unexpected zipper running up the back.
“I think the problem with surf and skate companies is that the girls’ stuff tends to be a lot of pinks and blues, and [they] just assume that that’s what girls want to wear,” says Wasson. “So I’d buy from the men’s section in the skate shops.”
To be sure, there are no girlish pinks or baby blues in Wasson’s line; the blacks, grays, and whites are hues you’d find upon opening Wasson’s own closet doors (she recalls that as a child growing up in Irving, Tex., her mother “fought to get me into a dress”). A flowered shift is the only piece that could be considered truly feminine (Wasson says she’d toughen it up with combat boots or Vans), though there’s no shortage of sex appeal. The tanks, which retail for $55, are cut low, and the frayed denim shorts, $230, skim the upper thigh.
No doubt the photo-shoot set will find Wasson’s wares perfect additions to a wardrobe suited for nights at the Beatrice Inn, but that was the last thing on the model’s mind when she and Tenore joined forces. “I’m going to get my rocks off seeing girls in California skating around wearing my clothes more than I think I will seeing it in the fashion world,” admits Wasson. All of this is not to say, however, that her posing days are anywhere over. “Oh, no, honey,” she says with a laugh. “You don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”