“My work reflects on my youth and being inspired by anything that sparks my curiosity. The collection is designed without the structured direction that a hard lined story would offer. I have a much more spontaneous approach. Ideas pop into my head and I follow the ones worth following.” – Austin Sherbanenko
Can you tell us a brief story about your childhood? What kinds of things were you in to?
My childhood was pretty full. My parents always wanted us kids to explore. We were always traveling far and near and doing things as a family. I was really all over the place, skateboarding, snowboarding, and racing BMX was my life for a while. My nickname back then was ”Turbo Sherbo” because I was so fast. I was in the top 8 fastest kids in the USA in 1997!
Do you have siblings?
I have one sister and one brother, Karissa (age 25) and Eric (age 32).
What is the first concert that you ever attended?
Ahahaha, 1995 Cheap Trick and Meatloaf! It was pretty sweet. It was just my mom and I. Meatloaf came out on a Harley and “flew” over the crowd. We ended up leaving early because some guys behind us were smoking weed and my mom didn’t want me to get high.
Did you ever make garments for yourself before you went into fashion design?
Yes. Not so much physical garments, but I adjusted almost all my clothes to fit my personality at that time. I was known for it.
What made you want to become a fashion designer?
I don’t know, clothes and fabrics have always fascinated me. I always wanted to have my own look and not something that someone else had or created. I was tired of seeing everyone look the same. I remember when I’d go shopping with my mom at the Tyler Mall in Riverside, CA I’d always look at the way clothes were constructed and the sewing techniques and pattern shapes. I always had a keen eye for a sense of quality. I loved finding the fucked up stitches and showing my mom and laughing at China! A few years before I started my line, there was really nothing out there I loved which in turn drove me to start designing my own collection.
Why did you decide not to finish fashion school?
I was developing the first collection while attending school. During that time I was learning far beyond anything I could have learned in a classroom. As time passed, my work took over and school was getting in the way.
Any valuable lessons you learned from attending?
In “fashion school” I learned what NOT to do. Most everyone there loved to shop and had a passion for fashion, but had no drive to actually do something creative. It pushed me to leap far ahead and go for it! I have always been very confident and ambitious to accomplish things I set my mind to.
How did you come up with the name Odyn Vovk (pronounced Oh-Din-Vah-fk)? What does it mean?
My background is Ukrainian and growing up it was instilled in me to appreciate where my family came from and what they had to endure during their lifetime. It was always a part of my heritage and I loved its language and its meanings. Whenever I had to name something I would always start looking into Ukrainian descriptions and meaning. It fascinated me. Odyn Vovk translates to “One Wolf”. My grandfather was a big part of choosing the name. He was the One Wolf that did whatever it took to keep his family alive, and make it to American during Nazi Germany. They escaped from labor camps (concentration camps).
You used every last penny that you had after you dropped out of fashion school to create Odyn Vovk. In a short period of time you had a clothing line, a store in L.A. up and running which I find very inspiring. What kind of odd jobs or hustle did you do to make all these things happen?
This is true. Funny enough, I sold a lot of things on eBay, freelanced graphic design, screen printed tee shirts for local baseball teams and motorcycle clubs, whatever I could do to keep me afloat. My family also was my saving grace. They saw where I was going,my drive to do it, and they were there every step of the way until I could carry the financial weight on my own.
Did you drink a lot of coffee?
The hours were long the nights never ended. I’m not a huge fan of coffee, but candy was my vice (and still is, eating some “Black Forest Gummy Worms” right now!). The late nights were more due to creative juices flowing and sleep was not something that concerned me. I just wanted to do what I was doing.
Is it true that when you designed your first collection you decided not to have a theme? Can you tell us more about this spontaneous approach compared to others?
Because, it was exactly that. People wanted a story or a theme, but there was no story. I made what I wanted and each piece along the way turned into the next…just like that. I don’t have to stick to guidelines when I create, that’s not fun! Fun to me is doing what you want, when you want, because you want to! Stories come later!
Alot of your inspirations are drawn from music, primarily hardcore, punk and Scandinavian Black Metal. What is it about these music genre that inspires your creative juices?
The sounds of these types of music put me in a dark mood that no other music can do. It makes me unafraid and powerful while I design. When I turn on my music I lose myself and I just go. It also reminds me to stop caring, to say “fuck it” and to do what I really want.
What bands are you into right now?
Gorgoroth, Dark Throne, Dark Funeral and of course, The 13th Floor Elevators… and anything Roky Erickson did.
I noticed that you don’t use any vibrant colors in your collections. In your first season all the garments were black and white and for winter most of your collection is dark and muted. Can you tell us more about your ‘non color’ palette choices?
Its what I like. I don’t love color, especially when I am designing, I feel it can get in the way. My focus is on the construction, patterns and my materials, not the wow factor with color per say.
Who would you like to see wearing your clothes? What type of things would they be in to?
Oh, this question! Whoever can appreciate what I do. I don’t like to put an age or class on my consumers. If I could dress anyone or see my designs on anyone, it would absolutely be the Misfits. They love leather, and BLUD!
What kind of materials did you use to create your 2010 Spring/Summer collection? In the past I noticed that you have used luxurious materials such as Italian wool, kangaroo leather and lambskin.
I used a few different styles of calf hide, buffalo, boucle wools, supima cottons, modals, and some Japanese denim. I like to incorporate all kinds of materials, its one of my favorite parts of developing each collection, picking out the fabric.
Do you think it’s important to design clothes with the intention that it ages well with time?
Absolutely. That is what all of my leather is about. When you first put it on it feels like armor sometimes, but after a while it will mold to your body and break in flawlessly. Aged is better… Just like my women!
Where do you reside now?
Downtown L.A., right in the heart of Skid Row!
What is the next city you plan to go to?
I will be in NY and Paris for Men’s Fashion Week in January. And back to NY for Women’s Week in February, where I will have another show for AW 2010.
Love or lust?
Eh. My kitten.