29 Jan Designer Profile: Logan Neitzel
People can be forgiven for automatically thinking “Project Runway” upon hearing the name Logan Neitzel. That’s about to change. Unlike other former participants in everyone’s favorite Heidi Klum extravaganza, Logan hasn’t resorted to marketing his name with the “of Project Runway” suffix, and he’s repeatedly turned down offers to appear on all-star seasons as well as other TV shows. This soft-spoken designer has no plans of becoming a professional reality tv star, he’s all about fashion.
With an aesthetic that is influenced by Goth, street fashions and sportswear, Logan’s past collections have demonstrated his ability to whip up a collection that is not only youthful and edgy, but also displays a vibrant elegance. And people are buying. From creating Macklemore’s much talked about stage look for this year’s Billboard Awards, to pieces for Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails comeback, Logan Neitzel is in demand.
“Coming from small-town Idaho, fashion was never a career path,” he recalls. “I had an artistic side that never had a proper outlet. I was into action sports, but also interested in fashion. I was always the weird kid wearing Hammer pants in third grade! (LAUGHS) I always loved working with my hands and figuring out how things work, so eventually I started figuring out how things were put together, be it a piece of clothing, making my own mocassins when I was 13, building bikes, or fixing a car.”
Logan studied fashion in Seattle “mainly because of proximity to the mountains. It was a good place to be based on the fact that a lot of sportswear and outerwear companies are based in that area, and I could still head into the mountains on the weekends. I was a total adrenaline junkie when I was younger,” he laughs. “But I ended up designing for London Fog, and for the snowboard outerwear line Black Dot.”
After designing for Black Dot, Logan began working as an accessories designer, which enabled him to travel to China and Japan, among other locations. “I guess my style evolved out of this; the traveling deeply inspired me, and I learned a lot in the process. I gradually discovered that I had a vision as to what I was seeing in fashion, wanted to see in fashion, and it became something more conceptual, as opposed to simply making a garment. And the concept of perhaps making wearable art became much more interesting than making a simple jacket that gets worn a few times and eventually thrown away.”
“I can’t say that I was born to be a fashion designer; I hate when people say that. I believe you eventually become a fashion designer in an ongoing process, shaped by everything you’ve done up until that point. Whether you’re making clothes, tinkering with car engines, whatever. What you do shapes you and takes you in a direction that you might not have foreseen.”
So who would he list as influences? “Well, Karl Lagerfeld is an inspiration, definitely. Not necessarily for his designs, but for his vision. This is someone who’s not concerned with the current season, because his vision is already three or four seasons further ahead than everyone else. And someone like Carol Christian Poell is amazing to me, the craft is at another level entirely, it’s not just a leather jacket, there’s another process behind it. I respect designers who stick to their vision, as opposed to morphing and jumping on trends. Rick Owens and Ann Demeulemeester are great examples; they stay true to their voice and don’t morph to what the public wants. They make what they want, and the public adapts, or doesn’t. They have a definite vision, and that vision is what guides them.”
Faced with the inevitable question about his stint on Project Runway, he laughs again. “I’d rather not talk about it, ” he says, but adds: “It definitely got my name out to a lot of people who would never have heard of me, and it’s driven me to become a better designer than I was on the show, so in that sense I guess it was a good thing. People have approached me for other shows, but I turn them all down. I don’t intend to revisit any kind of reality tv show again. If you’re still clinging on to your time on a reality show more than a year after the show aired, you’re just desperate for attention.”
An interesting partnership is Logan’s work with rapper Macklemore. His eye-catching creation worn at the 2013 Billboard Awards was much talked about in the blogosphere. “I’ve been working with Macklemore for a couple of years now. Macklemore is an incredibly driven person, and he’s given me an outlet to try new ideas and things that I would never out in my regular collections, like the big blue suit. In a way we see a lot of ourselves in the other. There are a lot of similarities in that he’s worked for ten years in grimy clubs and small venues, working his way up, and it’s the same with me.”
“My clothes aren’t going to be hanging at Macy’s any time soon, and that’s fine. That’s not where I want to be. I want to make great clothes that are like the prize piece in someone’s wardrobe. Someone puts their outfit together in the morning, and maybe they add that one piece from my collection that transforms their look. It’s easy to go full-on conceptual and weird, but for me that’s less appealing than making something that’s well crafted, has a voice, and is still a day-to-day wearable piece.”