California Dreaming: Q&A With Heidi Merrick
Heidi Merrick at Oliver & Lilly’s (photo by Jamie Mann)
A quintessential California girl, Heidi Merrick was raised in what can only be described as a Californian dream. Her father is the esteemed surfboard shaper Al Merrick and her mother ran the family business, along with their very own surf shop. With both creativity and business savvy, Merrick launched her eponymous label in 2007, which in just a few short years generated a loyal following for her unmistakable West Coast breezy flare. We caught up for a casual chat (in true California style, she called me “dude,” which, I have to say, made my day), during her trunk show at Oliver & Lilly’s in Vancouver.
Growing up in surfer culture, what made you go into fashion?
My mom ran a surf shop, so I grew up in a store. So I think the clothes thing is really natural. I always knew the seasons and buying — I always did the buying with my mom. Since I was six, I’ve been sitting in on buying appointments. I feel like I couldn’t do anything closer to what my dad does. I mean, clothes are something that I understand from just being a girl. I wouldn’t say I’m excessively into clothes — I’m not that type of a girl — but I am a type of person that likes to make things, run a company.
Your line is locally produced in California. Is keeping things at home of great importance to you?
We do [the manufacturing] within walking distance from the studio. I’m right in the middle of the fashion district, so we have a good community. For me, this is my namesake. It’s important to me to know the people; to know them by name. When I write a cheque, I like to know who I’m writing it to.
Do you feel like us West Coasters sometimes get a bad rep fashion-wise, being too casual and all?
Oh, yeah. I think they don’t get it at all. I think it’s mainly because they are jealous of the lifestyle. We have the better weather, and we have beautiful living. For me, it’s about lifestyle and that comes through in the collection.
What’s the inspiration behind your F/W collection?
We were going for a gentlemen surfer type, so the palette is cleaner. I took it from the picture of Shaun Tomson in the ’80s. There is this great picture of him in a tube, wearing a yellow wetsuit, so I took my palette from the skin and the ocean.
You recently added a home line. What’s next for Heidi Merrick?
I’m really trying to get ready-to-wear to a point where it’s recognizable. I feel like I have some collections that are really strong this way, and some that are strong in that way. We are working on a line of candles, so I have something really lovely coming up.
What has been the proudest moment in your career so far?
Tonight! This lovely girl came in, wearing three separate seasons. To see someone hundreds of miles away from me that gets my aesthetic and is wearing it throughout the seasons, it gave me the chills — it’s awesome!
Define Heidi Merrick in three words.
Cool, luxe, and West (Coast).
Heidi Merrick collection is available exclusively at Oliver & Lilly’s in Canada.