Since launching his first-name-only label, Erdem (pronounced ER-dum), in 2005, Erdem Moralioglu has gained a loyal following among the female fashion set for his quintessentially British frocks. But menswear was never part of his operations — until now. H&M recently enlisted the designer to create its annual capsule collection, known for eliciting retail pandemonium. Here, the Ryerson University alum (now based in London; he was raised in Montreal) talks about translating his distinctive vision into a menswear lineup filled with crisp tailoring, masculine takes on graphic florals and, true to his Canadian roots, even a designer toque.
For the first time, you’re designing pieces you could wear. Did your personal style factor into your designs?
It was a completely new experience to think about my own wardrobe when I was designing this collection. When I design my runway collections, I’m always thinking about the woman and the narrative behind her, whereas designing menswear was a slightly more forensic process. We were making men’s pieces for the very first time, so a lot of thought went into the design decisions, like how did I want the pants to sit? What was the cut of the blazer? What would my parka look like?
Speaking of narrative, what is the story behind these pieces?
The collection brings together many different narratives, drawing from my family and my childhood in Canada. I have an amazing photo of my father from the ’60s that inspired the tweed blazer and its neat shape, while my favourite Norwegian sweater, which I used to wear growing up, was behind the graphic take on the Fair Isle. I was really thinking about my wardrobe — both now and from different stages of growing up.
How is designing florals for men different than designing them for women?
Florals are a recurring theme in my work, and it was an exciting challenge to apply them to this menswear collection. Somehow in the design process, the florals just looked natural, whether used subtly in the lining of a jacket or as a bold print on a hoodie. There are also great silk floral pyjamas that evoke a kind of louche elegance. I think with menswear it’s about finding the right balance and doing things just enough.
Your clothing has a strong English sensibility. What defines English men’s style to you?
Englishness is something that has always fascinated me. When I was growing up, my mother would show me very English Merchant Ivory films, such as A Room With a View, and these had a huge influence on me. It’s interesting to have English heritage from my mother’s side of the family but to have grown up outside the country. I think it gives you a different viewpoint on what it means to be English. In terms of English style, I think it’s a mix of traditional elegance with a kind of insouciant eccentricity, which I find so appealing.
How can guys work the silky pyjama shirt into their wardrobe?
It would look so good worn with a favourite pair of jeans and sneakers or maybe dressed up with a tuxedo during party season. It’s such a great piece — I hope men will have it in their wardrobe for many seasons to come.