While many college students dream of careers that will afford them the luxury of wearing designer clothing, others like graduates Taylor Spong and Andrew Livingston went straight to the source.
The duo, along with business partner Taylor Conlin, created their own fashion line, Ferris Clothiers, which is celebrating its storefront grand opening in Brooklyn, New York, this Wednesday, July 4. A blend of skate and surf styles that Spong, Livingston and Conlin developed from influences on both the East and West Coasts, the brand features t-shirts, hats, sweaters and beanies. And while the company is in its earliest stages, they have big dreams of shelving alongside the likes of brands such as Billabong and Sector 9.
Spong, a 2008 LJHS grad and Livingston, a 2011 graduate, shared their thoughts on making their fashion dreams a reality.
La Jolla Patch: Was it always your dream to start a fashion line?
Andrew Livingston: Ninth grade was the first time I really thought about starting my own clothing line. The thought was born back when I was little. I rode for Billabong when I competed in snowboarding and remember going through the factory grabbing as many clothes as I possibly could and from there on I was fascinated by the industry.
Taylor Spong: I’ve always been interested in fashion, but you have to meet the right people. I’ve known Livingston for almost seven years and we both went to art school in Brooklyn, and just came across the right people and started it up.
La Jolla Patch: How did you meet your business partners?
Livingston: I always knew Taylor Spong from La Jolla and he was interested in the brand once it started. I know how much talent he has in his hands as well as how hard he works so he was a great addition.
Taylor Conlin and I originally met at a party back in the fall in New York. I was wearing this pretty awful looking shirt I had designed back in my senior year and he asked what brand it was. I told him I made it and he said he had been doing some clothing designs of his own as well and we just hit it off from there.
La Jolla Patch: Where do you get your design inspiration?
Livingston: My favorite designers are Erik Brunetti, Paul Smith, Mark McNairy, James Bond, Jeff Staple and Junya Watanabe. They have all been key players in the industry and have all pushed the industry's boundaries. Change is always refreshing to see when a lot of brands out there just play it safe succumbing to every trend instead of creating their own. I get a lot of design inspiration from old tattoo flash, vintage clothing, military apparel, old work wear and sailor outfits.
Spong: We get our inspiration from a lot of early tattoo work for our own line and then we draw inspiration for our custom stuff from pretty much everyday life. We look up to a lot of designers, especially Italian designers, for inspiration and to kind of keep a goal in mind.
La Jolla Patch: How would you sum up your line?
Livingston: The line really targets anyone who shares our culture. Our culture is one inspired by music, art, skateboarding and the other things that come with such a culture. We specialize in custom clothing so we hope to appeal to everyone. Custom suits for the greedy Wall Street guy and basic tees for the innocent kids. The shop is set up with a workshop in the back, so in-store garments can be sized to you or you can even bring in your own threads and create something personal with us.
Spong: As of right now the essence of the line pertains a lot to street-wear, skateboarding, surfing, etc. The designs we do are pretty classic, nothing too crazy, but clean and interesting, and we do all of the artwork ourselves.
La Jolla Patch: Why the name Ferris?
Livingston: The name Ferris came from the youthful vibrance of Ferris Bueller (from Ferris Bueller's Day Off) as well as the Ferris wheel. The Ferris wheel represents the idea of continuity, which is what we are all about. Taking vintage garments and re-creating them, giving them a new life and, more often than not, a new owner.
La Jolla Patch: What is the best and worst part about starting your business?
Livingston: The most difficult part about starting this business would be finding the right resources in terms of fabrics, manufacturers, etc. The other thing would be capital. The best part is still the best part. We get to create what we want and get paid for doing it. It has been a pleasure creating garments for people and seeing them get the same satisfaction in wearing the garment as we did making it.
Spong: It’s difficult, obviously paying for rent and maintaining the store, making sure it’s running smoothly and getting things done. But, we’re happy to be off the ground and working toward a solid well-recognized clothing line.
La Jolla Patch: Was there a moment when you realized all of your plans were actually coming to life?
Spong: That was when we finished building the store and everything was installed. We put the clothes on the rack and we saw our store come together. I was amazed. It took time and we had some setbacks, so once it all came together we were all just really excited.
La Jolla Patch: What are your future plans for the brand?
Livingston: Our first line was rather basic. We did some tees, some fleece and some caps. It was a good first run and we only have a few things left now. We're really hyped to get our Fall/Winter line out, a lot more time went into it and I think it is really going to show. We did not expect to sell out as quickly as we did, so we are also going to release a few more things for summer as well.
Spong: This year our reaction from everyone who has bought our product has just been great, we couldn’t ask for more. But in the future we would like to get into, a small-scale cut and sell operation, as in making t-shirts and possibly jeans and other things along those lines.
La Jolla Patch: What can attendees expect from the grand opening?
Livingston: The opening party is going to be pretty laid back. I'm lucky to know some awesome musicians out in New York who are taking time out to do their thing at the shop. We have also brought in some artists who will be showcasing some of their work, and besides that we'll just be handing out free beers from the local Brooklyn Brewery. We hope for people to enjoy a beer with us while also enjoying the art, music and clothing that will be there as well.
La Jolla Patch: Why New York?
Livingston: I could not do what I have done in New York, in San Diego -- at least to start. The resources in San Diego just do not compare to what New York has to offer. There are just so many people in New York who are in the fashion industry setting the bar, which keeps pushing me to do the best work I can.
Spong: Overall everyone back home is super stoked about what were doing. We would love to have it in San Diego, but as far as expanding, we started in New York, and I think that’s where we’re going to stay for a while.
Ferris’ grand opening of its 600-square-foot storefront will take place on July 4. West coasters who take a liking to the brand can purchase products online at ferrisnewyork.com. You can also view its video here.