My father would rarely speak of his life as a tailor on the island of Jamaica. I don’t think it was that he wasn’t proud of his rise from apprentice to tailor. What I do know is that it became more about a viable occupation that he could perform with his eyes closed that put food on the table for his wife and two boys. His pride, to me, came from his rise from tailor to provider. Yes, he could make one hell of a suit. However, it was less about the acclaim for an incredibly talented man from a small island nation and more about his indelible responsibility to attain a decent livelihood.
It’s always interesting to discover that what is often glamourized in this country is oftentimes a skill to make ends meet in another country. When the American verve hits the borders of another country and imparts its ‘ink to water’ influence, one can quickly watch the routine skillset become the honored indigenous craft. That we are always interested in the new and the desire to add more ingredients to the melting pot is what makes this country revered and dare I say envied.
This is why I really have to admire the aesthetic of designers like Sergio Davila. I’ll get to his amazing spring 2015 collection in a second. First, I must mention how Davila stays quite loyal to preserving the socioeconomic infrastructure of his Peruvian roots. Despite living in the states for over 10 years now, Davila still does much of his manufacturing in Peru. Why? “Pima cotton (one of the world's best) is from Peru, we have great factories there and we can do anything” states Davila who has a joint office in Lima to oversee production.
What makes this a truly full-circle collaborative effort is the inspiration from his homeland’s geography and the reliance on the talents of his native Peruvians. For example, his spring 2015 collection is a wonderful kaleidoscope of flavorful prints, festive knits and handmade embroidery all anchored with easy American sportswear shapes like cool polished outerwear, easy blazers, breezy flight jackets and trim whimsical button downs and jeans. Davila says that the embroideries, which feature inspirations from his recent trip to the Amazon rainforest with images of indigenous birds and wildlife, were all done by hand. Those skilled hands are those of local Peruvian artisans whose livelihoods are all aided by the design prowess and loyal ways from Mr. Davila. His tenured New York credibility that's taken him to his new chill spot in NoLita allows him to translate the festive patterns and lively embroideries to his well-traveled, cosmopolitan male customer in a very wearable and comfortable way.
It’s good to see that the lengths of pride from some designers go beyond visual inspiration. When a resource is good, it inspires and having grown up surrounded by it, the blending of Sergio Davila being designed in New York but constructed in Peru is almost artistic business savvy and common sense. Not to mention pride. Pride in which Davila shares his national loves with another nation that, when a story like this is told, may just appreciate the efforts behind what they wear on their backs a bit more.
Sergio Davila is located at 8 Spring Street in NoLita New York, NY 10012, Tel 212.775.0009
*All Photos courtesy of Moises Depena