Since the blog began way back in June 2007 we have watched, documented and applauded as the London menswear has evolved before our wanting eyes. During this time, one of the real highlights has been the opportunity to watch design talent grow. Nicomede Talevera is certainly one of the talented few that caught our eye and it has been an absolute pleasure to watch his continued rise. Back in October 2009, we featured a debut capsule collection by the then Central Saint Martin’s BA Menswear Fashion Design student. Created before he embarked on his placement year, we were as impressed with his business nous as we were were by his obvious design talent and could not resist learning more about this exciting prospect. We kept in close contact with him as he honed his talent with placements 3.1 Philip Lim in New York and Lanvin Homme in Paris, and presented his sophomore collection back in February 2010. In June, the London based menswear designer graduated from the Menswear Design BA at Central Saint Martins and presented his pulse racingly good ten look BA collection that showcased a ten piece bag collaboration with Eastpak. Inspired by restructive tailoring, Talevera offers a balance of playful yet functional, detail rich staples. The collection explores his ongoing experimentation with fabrics to enhance a design whilst offering new opportunities and shapes in the process. Now, just as he embarks on MA Fashion Design course at CSM under the teaching of professor Louise Wilson, Talavera's much lauded collaboration with Eastpak has been reimagined for Selfridges. Earlier this week and just before the four piece collections lands in store and online (October 24th, mark your diary) we sat down with the design talent to learn more about the collaboration.
The collaboration, first seen in June, started out as 'show pieces' for Talavera's BA Central Saint Martins graduate collection, originally consisting of ten styles in a monochrome palette. "The Eastpak collaboration meant that I was able to design and produce a range of showpiece bags to go alongside my BA graduate collection and have the backing of an incredibly experienced company who have opened a realm of possibilities that I didn’t imagine would be possible at this stage in my career." He is the first undergraduate designer to work with the Eastpak since Christopher Shannon, and follows in the footsteps of designers Kris Van Assche, Gaspard Yurkevich, Rick Owens and Raf Simons. "I feel extremely fortunate to be alongside such talent and Eastpak have been unbelievably generous and open throughout the whole process; they gave me free reign over the designs, details and fabrics etc. which was fantastic and have been really amazing to work with! Working with them has enabled me to benefit from their experience and also reputation for quality and innovation."
From a design and practical point of view Talavera really wanted the range to be as vast and varied as possible and "to cover as many of the areas that I personally use bags for on a day-to-day basis, depending on what I am doing and how much I need to carry." One of Talavera's main focuses was for the bags to fuse with the aesthetic of the collection and story as a whole but to also stand alone as a strong statement collaborative collection. It was clear that the graduate was keen for many of the shapes to be variations of classic Eastpak shapes but strived to create a range that was really unique and offered something different to Eastpak’s fanbase whilst still being very ‘Eastpak’. It is this perfect balance that caught the eye of so many and made the collaboration so covetable.
As mentioned above the collaboration originally consisted of ten styles that were not going to go into production, but due to the unprecedented response and positive reactions, Selfridges approached Eastpak. "They were really keen to sell the bags so we worked with them directly to choose a handful of styles from the original ten, that encapsulated the overall feel of the collaboration and are also inkeeping with Selfridges’ ‘White Christmas’ theme for the winter season – so white is the dominant palette of the four chosen styles. It all escalated very quickly and wasn’t something we had planned but it felt like the right time and I am so happy that people are now able to buy into the collaboration and a part of my graduate collection which I didn’t think would be possible at this stage because I’m aware of the difficulties of going into production when you are a young designer." Every time I speak with Talavera I am impressed. From the very first introductory email received from an ambitious student right through to the latest honest and humble admission, it is obvious to me that he is a talent that will go far.
After talking us through the evolution of the collaboration, Nicomede Talavera now introduces the four styles that will be available at Selfridges. Here, trying not to sound like he is on QVC, he introduces us to the black Padded Pak’r backpack, a white backpack, a white large holdall and a grey duffle bag.
"The black backpack is a reinvention Eastpak’s iconic and well-loved Padded Pak’r backpack in a combination of black leather and washed cotton. It has ruched leather detailing on the straps that are a reoccurring theme throughout the range, a front patch pocket with two zip fastenings, a section inside to hold a laptop. This is probably my favourite bag out of the four and since my graduate show a few months ago I have not stopped using the sample – I can’t think of a day when I haven’t used it!!"
"Then there is the all-white backpack which is a statement style and a shape that I designed for the collaborative collection. It is made from a combination of white matte leather, white nylon rip stock with a subtle grid pattern and has an outward slanting silhouette with concealed pockets and compartments beneath the top flap. The backpack also has ruched leather detailing on the straps and several pockets and white compartments inside."
"The all-white holdall is another shape and style completely unique to the collaborative collection and is the largest of the four bags. It is also made from a combination of white matte leather, white nylon rip stock with a subtle grid pattern and can be worn over the body or by hand. The holdall has ruched leather detailing on all the straps, a large flap pocket with magnet fastenings, a concealed pocket at the back, and mesh and zip fastening pockets inside. It has so many different sections and can be held in lots of different ways."
"The upright duffle bag style is made from a grey coated linen and matte grey leather. It can be worn on one shoulder or across the body and has ruched detailing on the strap, as well as a large concealed vertical zip pocket at the back and a mesh compartment and zip fastening pocket inside. The bag has a relaxed cylindrical shape and is unlike any of the current EASTPAK styles."
As he begins his MA course, Nicomede Talavera is going to focus on his studies, channel and hone his aesthetic and no doubt grow as a designer. I cannot wait to see what this young talent creates next but first look forward to this collaboration dropping in to Selfridges next week.