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Naarm-based designer Erik Yvon is on a mission to bring joy to every wardrobe

PHOTOGRAPHY BY PRUE STENT FOR ERIK YVON

WORDS BY IZZY WIGHT

“My designs draw inspiration from art, my everyday surroundings, my origins on the island of Mauritius and my experiences as a queer person of colour.”

When I ask Erik Yvon to describe his designs to somebody who’s never seen them before, his answer is simple: “Riri at a boat party”. And after seeing his debut solo runway moment at Afterpay Australia Fashion Week, I absolutely believe it.

A playful showcase of sherbert slip dresses, iridescent outerwear, intricate woven pieces and brightly-coloured fringe, Erik’s show embodied Riri in all her fashion-forward glory. Hailing from the island country of Mauritius, Erik takes inspiration from his cultural upbringing and personal experiences as a queer person of colour.


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Praised for his inclusive, dynamic take on contemporary design, Erik has become an influential figure in the local fashion scene – but eight years on, he still considers himself to be ’emerging’. The community-minded designer speaks on identity, collaboration and opening doors for others.

Tell us about you. What’s your fashion background?

 

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My name is Erik and I’m a Naarm-based fashion designer. My label is called Erik Yvon. I create garments for all bodies and I create clothing to spark joy. I grew up in Mauritius and moved to Australia when I was 19 years old. I studied fashion at RMIT, where I completed a Bachelor of Fashion Design. I’ve gained experience training under iconic Australian labels such as Romance Was Born and Neo Dia. I launched my label in 2019.

How did the label get started? Talk us through the process and the challenges.

After graduating; I started the label as a project. I was mostly designing clothing for friends and making everything by myself – print design, pattern making, grading and production. I soon realised there was no way I would last doing everything by myself. Each season, I now collaborate with a graphic designer or artist.

Each collection is a nod to my Mauritian roots through vibrant colours, lush textures and collaborations with my extensive design community. I actively seek out and work with creatives of colour and LGBTIAQ+ folk for every collection, ensuring each season is unique, exciting and smile-inducing.

I’m on a mission to bring joy to every wardrobe. Collaborating with so many creatives in one collection can be tricky when there are so many elements… each piece, choice and direction has to work harmoniously.

What were you trying to achieve from the project at the time? How has this evolved and what are you trying to communicate through the brand now?

 

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To be honest with you, I was very lost when I started the label. I felt at the time like an immigrant with no real connection with others or peers. The label has evolved into more than just being beautiful clothes – at the forefront of Erik Yvon, we put people. As a business, I’m devoted to centring the creative process around people of all colours, identities, shapes and sizes. I want to redefine the perceptions of feminity and masculinity.

How would you describe Erik Yvon designs to someone who’s never seen them before?

Riri at a boat party. Queer, diverse designs that work across and flatter different body shapes. Colourful. My designs draw inspiration from art, my everyday surroundings, my origins on the island of Mauritius and my experiences as a queer person of colour.

What are you most proud of in your work on your label?

 

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Using fashion as a means to open doors for other faces and voices who might not have had the chance to be seen; those who haven’t had the same opportunities as others. I’m most proud of empowering other minorities by giving them a platform to shine.

What do you wish you knew when you started?

My difference (the way I look, the way I speak, the way I dress, the way I engage with my design process) is my strength.

Who do you think is most exciting in Australian fashion right now?

It’s tough to pick a favourite. I truly love and have so much respect for everyone in Australian fashion! The rise of new designers is always the most exciting thing and the amount of talent we see each year is unbelievable. I’m excited to see how we’ll change the future of fashion.

What about the Australian fashion industry needs to change?

 

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It would be tokenism. I’d love to not only see POC on the runways but within teams and higher up. Us POC aren’t a trend; we’re just as deserving as everyone else to have a platform to shine. If not, even more deserving. Because let’s face it – some are more privileged than others.

Dream Australian collaborators?

Jimmy Pike, James Lemon and Atong Atem, please.

Who is in your wardrobe right now?

Erik Yvon, Lazoschmidl, Savers, Goodbyes, Dries, Lisa Waup and Crocs.

Browse the Erik Yvon collection here.

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