Meet young creative Eric Lawrence
I know you got started in fashion because you approached Matthew Williams at a concert and the rest is history. Did you move from Dallas to NYC on a whim?
I interviewed with him when I was on vacation here. Then I went home for probably a month where I finished up my job as a waiter. I saved up a bit of money and dropped out of school.
Were you studying fashion?
No. I was just taking classes at a regular community college. I really didn’t want to go to school for anything except fashion, but there are no fashion schools in Texas. After I met Matt, he offered me an internship but I wasn’t living in NYC.
How long did it take to move?
After the interview, he said he would hire me - if I lived in New York. I went back home for a month, got my stuff together and made a plan to move. It took me three days to drive here! I packed my car and had it in the city for a bit, but then I sold it because I was getting a lot of parking tickets. My sister lived in NYC at the time, so it’s not as crazy as it sounds... I wasn’t living out of my car or anything. I drove here and I lived with my sister for a few months while I was interning.
At the beginning, it was only about one day a week that I came in, but I kept showing up all the time and I was always available for him. I quickly worked my way up and then he offered me a job.
What kind of job?
Creative assistant in a way. He would work with artists and musicians and I would assist him on photo shoots. Then a little bit later, when he started planning on launching Alyx, he wanted to solely focus on that, so I assisted him.
How did you adapt to NYC? Did you find it hard?
No, not at all. I started coming here when I was 15, about once a year. The first time I ever came, I sort of liked it but I never thought I could live here. Then I came back and had more fun, and suddenly I was vibing NYC. I kept coming back and I learned my way around the city. By the time I was 21, I was really comfortable here, and by the time I moved here it felt like home. Plus I had my sister here.
I remember when I was about 18, I was like, “this is the trip where I’m gonna meet someone and they’re gonna be my mentor!” I would always say that to myself, and it’s so weird that it actually happened that way a few years later. I met Matthew Williams at a Drake concert, and he’s the one that helped me make it.
And how did he help you? What did you learn from him?
I worked for him for 2 and a half years before he moved to Italy to work on his brand. He basically offered me a job when I had no experience. He always told me he could tell I had a good eye. He liked the way I was dressed the night we met. He said it was very natural. I wasn’t wearing anything crazy or loud.
He taught me how to look, how to research, how to go back in time and study past stylists and fashion designers. He taught me a lot about the history of fashion.
How did you get into vintage? Since your first release was made from repurposed vintage tees.
I wasn't always into it. My friends Kevin and Scout lived in the Lower East Side, and I would always be at their house. They loved vintage shopping, and they kind of showed me a different way of looking at fashion.
Some people are like, “250 dollars for a t shirt!?” You have to appreciate and understand the thought that goes into each shirt that I make. Some of the shirts were from as early as the 60s. It's wild to think about the life that t shirt has already had. And I’m giving it a new life.
What are the best vintage shops in NYC?
My favorite is Stock Vintage on East 13th street. The clothes there are from the early 1900s to 1970s. They have really amazing stuff. The owner has been collecting vintage since she was 10. She’s so passionate! I also love Procell and Metropolis for 80s and 90s vintage.
How much do you regularly spend on a vintage tee?
The cost always varies; the most I’ve spent on one is like 400 dollars, a Derek Ridgers x Morrissey shirt from ’91, which was a steal. It’s the story behind stuff that makes it more valuable, so I like to look for meaningful pieces.
Are the “Anger” tees a collaboration with Mr. Completely, or is that a different thing?
So first, I started printing “Anger” on vintage tees, and I would sell them on my website. I only made about 60. The designer from Mr. Completely bought one, and after that some people he worked with bought them too. Then he had some more people that were interested in buying them, and that sparked a collaboration. I’ve worked with him before all this though; I shot a campaign for him. It was later when he bought the t-shirt, and when his friends started being interested in buying my stuff, that he asked if we could do a full collection collaboration. It wasn't supposed to get that big!
The collaboration with Mr. Completley is cut and sewn in LA - hoodies, sweats, jeans, a woven hockey sweater, and some tees. We designed it together over email and by spending hours on the phone every day.
So, you also do photography?
Yes. I got into it around the time that Alyx launched. Matthew wanted me to shoot girls wearing the clothes to put on the streets. I was going out looking for cool girls and setting up shoots, and that’s when I got into it and kept doing it. From there, I bought my own cameras. It’s also the easiest form of a creative outlet. Making clothes is hard. With a photo, you take it and get a product right away.
Did you take any photo classes?
I just picked up a film camera. I can do a full studio photoshoot now though with lighting and all. The lookbook I premiered on W I shot myself with a digital camera. I knew how to do it because I would assist photographers on photoshoots.
I did take classes for Photoshop and Illustrator because no one can tell you how to use that. You have to sit down and learn. But I never took any fashion classes. Everything I’ve learned so far is first hand from designers and stylists I look up to.
Do you know how to sew?
No but I know how to pattern-make. I actually got hired at a pattern-making studio. They make samples. I don’t work there anymore, but I went in there to work on my collection with Mr.Completely. I brought in a pair of sweatpants that I wanted tailored. The next day the studio called me and and told me they liked the way I worked. They offered me a job as the manager of the studio. I was like, “I didn’t go to school for it!” And they were like, “You’ll learn!” And they just kinda threw me in there.
I think patternmaking was really important to learn because Matthew taught me how to research clothing, but I didn’t know how clothes were put together. When I worked at the studio I would see the designer’s path, from the sketch to the runway, and I saw that firsthand.
Are you working on another project right now?
Yeah. It’s really in the beginning stages. But I’m really excited to roll it out when the time is right!
And since I’m not in school, I wanna keep learning from people that have mastered it. I wanna keep working with people like that.
Do you have a day job?
I was working at that studio for three and a half months. I’ve been getting a lot of freelance jobs piling up, and I just started an internship at Alexander Wang.
I jump around a lot. Working with Matthew was the most consistent job I’ve had, but even then I was assisting stylists on the side. He always encouraged that. I jump around and work with different people in all different areas of fashion. I love doing that. I worked at the pattern making studio but it got repetitive. I was ready for something new.
So you’re basically creative directing?
That’s my dream. Not to contradict myself, because I did say I want to have a clothing line, but it’s also a dream to be a creative director for a brand that’s already established.
Yeah brands always need a fresh take on things after they get a little old and boring.
Yeah! Look at all the brands that are doing it like Calvin Klein with Raf Simons and Gucci’s comeback. It’s happening everywhere. All these brands are hiring new creatives and freshening things up. I think that’s really cool, too. These funny brands that were relevant in the 90s are coming back, like Juicy Couture and Kappa.
I may or may not start a new fashion line but I do love working for other companies, use them as my canvas. I think that’s a good angle for me right now.