Men’s 2011 Fall/Holiday Style Guide: True Love & False Idols




Alex Erdmann, Founder and Creative Director

How has working with La Jolla Group affected Fall 2011?

La Jolla Group [provides] structure, which ensures everything gets done and they get things executed properly and that’s really good. I used to do everything pretty much on my own and I don’t have to. I can kind of step back and let people do what they do.

How has it affected TLFI on the design side?

On the design side, its what we started the company around and we’ve gone back to that. The only thing is there are limitations in regards to margins. But I think it’s probably a good thing that it is priced at a more accessible level. The line’s never looked this good. It has a lot more moving parts now. We have full cohesive calendars and catalogs and we have a little more advertising and a much bigger machine behind it as opposed to a couple of guys. They’ve given me a lot of freedom to work things out. We’re getting good results and people are definitely paying attention and we’re getting a good reaction.

What does that mean to getting back to how the company started?

Right now we’ve had time to take a step back and look at what the real message is and I think that’s what’s given us success now is sticking to our guns. The original idea was it was irreverent, tongue-in-cheek, a little fast at times and not taking itself too seriously. That’s what I enjoy about it. I want there to be a chuckle.

What is an example of making something less serious?

One of the things is we have this sweater, its called Varsity Reggie. It’s a fully knitted intarsia crew sweater. There’s a cartoon of a koala bear with an uzi, which is pretty funny applied to intarsia. We do these jabs of different characters and people and kind of make fun of them but not really. We have a shirt of a cartoon of a guy snowboarding and it just says, “Herpes Rocks!” There’s a lot of that kind of thing.

Didn’t you do that “Herpes Rocks” T-shirt before? Are you resurrecting old styles again?

If it makes sense, we throw it in. We were a bunch of places we were never at before, so it’s a new line for them. I can go and pull out stuff [from before] and if they react [put it in the line].

What do you think about flannels? How are your plaids different?

We have some lovely flannels. As far as plaids go, we have to have a point of difference. We have a plaid where the plaid pattern in each square is like, a foot. It’s gigantic so it kind of gets abstracted. The other plaids that we have are engineered. When we do use plaids we find a way to trick them out. We have horizontal stripes with a clean blank fabric. We have dipdyes with ginghams. We’re trying to find ways to reimagine ways to reimagine wovens. You still gotta keep plaids in there. I’m always amazed at how long things will stay past their due. Plaids you think is over and then they just come back for another year.

What is the fit on shirts?

Our fit is medium fitted fit. It’s not super baggy, but its not super tight. Its right in the middle, a little bit tailored. Probably true to size in most things. You want to give it a nice cut but you don’t want it to be so tight that you exclude people.

What is the fit on the jeans?

Its pretty slender fit but not an aggressively slender fit. We do have one pair that is pretty tight but for the most part they are straight leg, slightly pegged. For the most part I like to keep it pretty simple just with an eye on the washes. We do have different type of fits. Some of them have a smaller leg opening and are much skinnier in the calf and some of them are a little looser but for the most part they stay pretty slender.

How about the washes on jeans?

If it were up to me, I’d make it all raw and one fit skinny. What I like is we’re doing a chino, which is nice. I’d like to put more stock into developing a nice chino than denim because denim is really hard. Chino, there’s a lot of room to grow. It’s only a matter of time. That market’s [denim] is definitely oversaturated… Personally, I’d like to see that more because it hasn’t been exploited much. A lot of the big companies have a nice chino, but I think smaller companies they haven’t really gotten into it yet. For me, it’s just trying to find a nice fabrics and cut as opposed to a lot of bells and whistles.