In our other lives, we work in the fashion/styling world and one of our absolute favorite brands we’ve come across in LA is the super rad, impeccably designed and crafted label Field Scout. We visited designer Ryan Hartman and brand manager Ally Ferguson in east downtown LA at their warehouse space.
A+A: If you could describe your brand in three words, what would they be?
R+A: Utilitarian, quality, unique
A+A: Is there a specific type of material or cloth that is your favorite to work with?
A: I think one of our favorite fabrics to work with, which is also the most challenging, is the wool we make our sweaters out of. It is all hand done in LA, which is actually unheard of, and we fly in all the Merino wool directly from Italy.
R: It is definitely the most challenging and the most unique because you don’t know how to work with it. You don’t make patterns like you do with a regular fabric. It also makes it the most fun.
A: When it starts out, its just this roll of string…
R: …and then we design these patterns from scratch. Thats our artwork that gets put into the pattern. The camouflage pattern actually carries through to the inside, as well as the plaiting. Theres no sewing machine involved, except for putting in the zipper, which you can’t really get around. As far as the knitting goes, theres no seams, it just continues through.
A+A: Wow, thats really incredible. So, what would your favorite collection be to date?
R+A: It would be current Fall 2012, we did our best job for sure.
A+A: Describe your customer in three words
A: We call him the Modern Mobile Man - a guy who cares about his personal style but doesn’t put a ton of thought into it.
R: We try to push our customer to find his own independent, personal style, not “our style”, per se. Our clothes aren’t available just anywhere either, so its really a certain type of guy who shops at these select boutiques and stores.
A+A: And which stores are those?
A: In LA - Fred Segal Man, Ron Herman, American Rag, Steven Alan, Library on Larchmont and Nordstrom Designer.
A+A: Which other artists or designers influence your work?
A: Its not really ‘influence’ but there are definitely those who inspire.
R: I can name favorites, but they don’t necessarily influence what we do. I’m a huge fan of the history of fashion, so The Belgian [Antwerp] Six are, bar none, the pantheon. I look toward Dries [Van Noten], Ann Demeulmeetster… Ann Demeulemeester is the best to walk the planet- ever. I’m a huge fan of [Martin] Margiela, I know his complete history. A.F. Vandevorst, Dirk Schönberger - his Fall 1999 and Fall 2000 were probably some of the best menswear collections ever done- and then the original Helmut Lang. Actually, the new duo designing for Helmut Lang are ridiculous too, they are kicking ass. Those are people that I actually follow. Modern people I follow are Robert Geller and Nice Collective, and that’s about it. Other things that influence are just places and people. People like Indiana Jones, Jane Goodall…the fictional characters James Bond and Jason Bourne are also awesome. There are also family members of mine that are military that I look towards.
A+A: Do you listen to music while you’re designing?
R: Occasionally, it depends on the mood. I like to be in public, I am extremely ADHD, so things happening around me and passing by actually help me to concentrate. If I am listening to music it’ll be classical, because it’s basically just pretty noise and I won’t get caught up singing along. Like, if it was [Led] Zeppelin, I’d be air drumming and playing air-guitar and not getting anything done.
A+A: What about LA inspires you? Why do this here?
A: We were born and raised here!
R: Yeah, we are SoCal kids… but I personally don’t really like LA. There are loads of good things about it, but overall, if I could choose, I wouldn’t be here.
A: I have a good time in LA but I would never choose to do fashion here… but, at the same time, you have to be here because everything [in terms of production] is here. I mean you CAN do this in New York, it’s really hard and really expensive.
R: We produce 95% of our collection in the United States, so to be able to accomplish that, you have to be here. Its not feasible to do it out of New York.
A: But the great thing is, we probably only spend about half our time in LA. Twice a year we do Paris, Berlin, New York, Vegas and then everywhere in between.
A+A: Where is your oasis in LA?
A+R: The Beach! Probably Venice beach.
A+A: What is your favorite hike in LA?
A: I really like Temescal Canyon in Malibu, with the waterfall. Thats the coolest one.
A+A: Do you have a favorite food truck?
A: (to Ryan) you like El Gabion! I like Taco Zone and I live right up the hill from them. Did you know its rated as a five-star restaurant?!
R: Venice on First Friday - I cant remember names to save my life but I’ll just randomly buy stuff - theres some incredibly amazing food there. Some of the Korean and Vietnamese trucks - those are stupid good.
A: Coolhaus, is great too.
A+A: What do you do on your day off?
A: Drink (laughs)
R: Surf, skate, play golf and just be outside in general. I love to bike everywhere, and cook.
A+A: Segueing into that, what is your favorite place to get a drink (or seven) in LA?
A: Where do I always end up having seven drinks?! I end up going to Seven Grand a lot after work… they have really good Old Fashioned.
A+A: Where are your favorite places to shop in LA?
A: Friends brands, mostly. We don’t do a lot of shopping.
R: Fred Segal Men is definitely my favorite men’s store, but yeah, mostly friends brands.
A+A: What is your spirit animal?
A: Falkor from the Neverending Story for sure
R: A leopard.
A+A: What is the one thing that is always stocked in your refrigerator?
R: A lot, actually. I cook about 5 nights a week. Ginger ale, iced tea, a good steak, chicken and then I do farmer’s markets and veggies twice a week.
A+A: What’s your fave farmers market?
R: Ventura Farmer’s Market on Saturday
A: In my fridge? Tequila. A straggler beer. A really old lemon. Salad dressing. I go away for two weeks at time so its really an ebb and flow. Those are pretty much the consistent things though.
A+A: Whats one material possession you would grab if your house was burning?
A: My grandpa’s watch.
R: A little woodbox I made that has some keepsakes in it
A: What?! Im going to keep everything in a box so I can just say that from now on!
A+A: Last thoughts or parting words?
A: Rest in peace, Opie! I can’t believe they killed him off [from Sons of Anarchy]!
Ryan Hartman + Ally Ferguson