After taking trips and finding inspiration in far flung locales like Japan, Jamaica, and Mexico, The Elder Statesman team looked to its own backyard for the spring 2023 collection. “We really wanted to tap into our core values,” Bailey Hunter, The Elder Statesman creative director, explained over Zoom. “Every season is a new exploration of what we can do with the crafts that we have.”
“We don’t call our factory a factory, we call it an arts and crafts facility because that’s really what it is,” founder Greg Chait added. If there’s one thing to know about The Elder Statesman team, it’s that they like to have fun—and they want their customers to feel it when they wear their clothes.
This season, they were thinking of SoCal surf culture, which they translated into cool little multi-color hand-crochet bikinis, and lots of hand-knitted organic cotton turned into airy, open weave long shorts, cardigans, and dresses suitable for après-beach moments. A collaboration with the South African surf brand Mami Wata resulted in some of the season’s most joyful pieces, like the cashmere vest with an all-over azure bubble face doodle print and terracotta rib trim, or the tie-dye cashmere hoodie with a Mami Wata intarsia patchwork on the front. The design on the hoodie—a mix of blue circles and mint green lines that vaguely resembles the laser background in school portraits from the 1980s—is achieved through a two-fold process. First, the circles are tie-dyed, then the lines are hand-painted on (so no two pieces are exactly the same). “The magic of it is that every piece is special and unique,” Hunter said. The Elder Statesman team also collaborated with local artists and craftspeople to decorate the Ugg boots worn by the models in the lookbook (which will sadly not be produced), which featured blown glass, colorful woven patterns, and even… tattoos. “Jordan Hart, who’s our dyer’s husband, he actually tattooed a pair of Uggs,” Hunter explained.
Other standouts in the collection included a series of marled cardigans, one robe-like with a tie at the waist, and the other maxi length held together by a special safety pin at the chest (worn over a bikini, it had very Gen Z appeal). Usually a marled knit is achieved by working with a “space yarn,” or a yarn that’s been dyed with a multitude of colors, but at The Elder Statesman they use individual color yarns. Surely a more complicated process, but that’s not a reason alone to employ the technique. “It lets us use a lot of our deadstock colors, because we can combine a lot of our past season colors and do this knit,” Hunter said. “They take on a whole new identity.”