It’s reassuring when a designer practises what they preach. A minimalist designer shouldn’t live surrounded by clutter and conversely we wouldn’t expect an interior guru who extols the virtues of vintage and country house charm to retreat to a bare loft conversion at the end of the day. So it feels like ‘all’s right with the world’ when we discover that Erica Tanov really does live the All-American dream that her relaxed collections so clearly convey. While Erica’s designs are all-american it’s not a static stereotype. A Californian girl who studied in New York but returned to the San Francisco Bay to set up her business, Erica draws on her neighbourhood for inspiration but constantly shifts her point of view, moving through time so that one collection will feature tousled ‘Huckleberry Finn’ girls that would be at home in a Mark Twain novel, while another references cool Hitchcock heroines that could have stepped from the set of Vertigo.
What unites the collections is the prints and a love of cloth – Erica designs her patterns, oversees printing and the transformation of cloth to clothing. She explains, “textures, colours and patterns are what excite me most. Creating my prints – whether from my own drawings and paintings or reworking vintage finds finds (scraps of paper, fabric, a dishtowel, a matchbook – anything really) and combining them with textures, stripes and plaids of other fabrics to create the palette for the season is my favourite part of designing. The silhouettes follow the fabrics for me.” It’s a holistic approach, not particularly fashionable or faddish, and it reflects her way of life. As much as possible is produced under Erica’s watchful eye only a few elements are outsourced – her hand knits are made in Bolivia by a small women’s collective and Erica collaborates with makers such as Jess Brown who makes rag dolls dressed in Erica’s offcuts. Visit one of Erica's stores to find a beautifully put together range of clothing and home ware - plus the latest issues of Selvedge magazine.2415 Larkspur Landing Cir, Larkspur, CA 94939 1827 Fourth St, Berkeley, CA 94710 www.ericatanov.com photography: Gabrielle Stiles This is an extract from Lucy Allen's article in the Independence issue of Selvedge.