Our editorial shoots are an opportunity to paint a picture, to tell the story of a collection. To explore concepts and communicate visually beyond the utilitarian, informative nature of product imagery. We often discuss the purpose of creating editorial imagery, and time and time again we come to the same conclusion - it’s an essential form of creative expression, needed to connect a fantastical vision with reality, needed to imbue the products we sell with the sense of wonder and depth we work so hard to give them.
With this collection, planning an editorial felt pretty intimidating. There was such a big story here, picking the right way to tell it was a big task. We entertained locations with architectural elements that spoke to the lines and cuts of the garments, hinting at the lack of resolution concept that was so significant during the design process. We thought of focusing on the imagery of ritual and comfort, emphasizing the importance of warmth and the role clothing plays in constructing your environment and perspective. Ultimately, despite the relevance of those visual stories to the collection, they simply didn’t feel like enough.
Instead, we decided to go straight to the source. Our trip to Oregon was primarily to visit Imperial Stock Ranch through which we are sourcing all of the wool for the Cold Weather Collection - we wanted to see the operation for ourselves, photograph it, speak with the owners, and meet the sheep. At the last minute, we decided to shoot our editorial on location there as well. To bring the finished garments back to their starting point, to their genesis - symbolism doesn’t get more powerful than that. This isn’t a tenuous correlation between products that are made of wool and an unrelated animal that provides wool (as is so often the case with imagery like this). This is bringing the physical manifestation of so much labor, talent, and knowledge to the exact place it began, to the precise land and animals that in actuality provide the raw materials with which these products are built.
Watching it unfold in front of me and seeing the results of this shoot published today quite literally blows my mind. It was a whirlwind experience - Chelsea and I arrived from Nashville, our photographer flew in from LA, our model and hair/makeup drove in from Portland, we piled ourselves, our gear, and the collection into our rented minivan and started shooting. We began at the ranch, which I knew would move me. Our model, Claire, hugged sheep and climbed through muck, and stood in the endless pasture while Zachary captured some of the most stunning images in ES history. We quickly and effectively got the content we set out to create - imagery of our new wool in the place that it comes from, imagery that shows the happiness and health of the animals that provide the fiber, and imagery that solidifies the relationship between the products we make and the materials we make them with. It was perhaps the most emotionally rewarding moment of running this business (well, it’s up there with the weekend of our Diversity Campaign).
What happened afterwards, though, was a bit less predictable. After leaving the ranch, we kept pulling off the road to shoot more - we simply couldn’t resist the landscape. We worked until the daylight had completely gone. Pulled off of a two-lane road in the middle of the strangest landscape I’ve ever experienced, watching Claire pull a coat tightly around her shoulders, it hit me. We had captured what we had deemed as the most important part of the story - the sourcing of the materials. But, looking at the rolling, endless hills bathed in burning orange and purple sunlight, it became clear we had also captured the feeling of infinite possibility, the confusion Astral Weeks leaves me feeling every time. It’s a landscape without an answer, a view with no resolution - a feeling I can only describe as a question mark, a sense of limitless and inexhaustible potential.