Five Questions For John Patrick
“Green” is a word on the tip of everyone’s tongue these days, but for John Patrick, the concept isn’t merely talk. The Organic designer has been at the forefront of the sustainable style movement, treating his brand as a proving ground for eco-minded innovations like recycled fabrics, impact-free dyes, and local sourcing. Patrick is dead serious about the values of Organic, and yet he’s made each collection so much fun. Betting that shoppers will happily integrate into their wardrobes streetwise chic pieces that just happen to be green, Patrick has built his brand into a sustainability success story. This year, Organic was tapped as a finalist for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award. The winner of the 2008 prize will be announced November 17; in the meantime, Patrick answers Style.com’s questions about life in the Top Ten.
What made you want to be a designer?
I’d been making things all the time as a child, but when I was 13 or 14, I saw this article about Halston in Life magazine and that really affected me. His world seemed like this incredible fantasy. And then, after that, [it was] sitting on the stoop and reading W back in the day. I’m talking the seventies here. That was dreamy.
What was the scariest moment of the CFDA/Vogue process?
Frankly, I applied never for a moment imagining that I’d get anywhere close to being in the running. So for me the scariest moment was when Steven Kolb called me to say, Hi, you’re in. I really didn’t know how to react. Everything sort of went into perspective in that one moment. And also, suddenly, I knew for a fact that my work was going to be seen—and seen in this serious way. I’ll never forget that call. I was in a forest, standing under a pine tree. Steven called and I was just…done.
What’s your up-and-coming designer’s take on the current economic crisis?
Organic has actually enjoyed an increase in sales this season so, fingers crossed, I’m not too worried yet. Our point of view is that we have to be extra-creative, going forward. I mean, so much merchandise out there looks so same-y. You need to make clothes that stand out, that are beautiful and meaningful to a customer. She’s still out there, and she’s still looking, but she has to have a reason to buy something. The shopping is going to be a little less mindless, I think, and that could really be a good thing because the system is broken. We’re all due for a rethink.
Speaking of money, where did your first funding come from?
There really was no first round of funding. I put the first collections on my credit card, pretty much.
What are you going to wear to the awards?
Hicham [Benmira] from Hollander & Lexer in Brooklyn is a wonderful person and I love him, and he’s putting me into one of his freaked-out, rail-thin tuxedos.