Name: Eric Kvatek
Instagram ID: @Eric_kvatek
Who are you and what are you doing within the (denim) industry?
I am a fashion photographer, often for denim brands such as Kapital, 45rpm, PRPS and Replay Jeans. I also shoot for the Calik Denim which is a denim mill in Istanbul. On many of the shoots, beyond taking photos, I also do some art direction, styling and all around image building.
What are you currently working on?
I am in the middle of what has turned out to be a kind of huge personal project. During the 2020 lockdown I began making my own magazine. I have been laying out the first issue for way too long now and have also started lining up ideas for the second issue. It looks like #1 will be out in 2022.
What is the biggest achievement so far in your career?
I also shoot documentary photos when time permits. In 2011 I traveled to Japan five times to shoot in the region devastated by the tsunami. I was there soon after it happened with help from some local Japanese friends in the motorcycle community. Once it was apparent there was a serious danger of radiation exposure most of the western journalists fled. I staid. As a result I think I managed to capture something maybe few other photographers did.
What is/are your favorite denim brand(s), and why?
Levi’s before 1970, Kapital before 2013, RRL if it’s made in USA. I guess I have a passion for things that no longer exist or just barely exist. I like hunting. I like “unobtanium”.
What is your favorite denim store, and why?
There is a vintage store in Tokyo called Jantiques. It’s a kind of atypical vintage store geared maybe more towards fashion and those with idiosyncratic tastes. So it happens there you find stuff you never expected to see or never knew existed.
Also, it’s not really a store, but my friend Brit Eaton has a kind of insane warehouse in Colorado. He has been searching mineshafts and ghost towns for many, many years. There are piles and boxes of denim in various condition from museum pieces to literal garbage stuffed into log cabins and old railway boxcars. If you catch him on a good day it might even be affordable. In any case, trying to buy something from him will be an experience.
What do you think we can expect in the (near) future of denim developments as it comes to sustainability?
Obviously sustainability is a serious concern for the Earth and humankind. But I think it needs to be a genuine effort and not just a marketing ploy or PR hype. I have been involved in the vintage denim world for almost 30 years. Buying and wearing vintage is maybe the ultimate sustainability. But beyond that, for new brands… make better products, that the consumer will hopefully pay more for, but use it much longer. I realize that trying to convince a family with four kids to spend more on a pair of jeans is difficult. Even if it actually makes more sense in the long run. Huge chain stores and massive low cost brands need to do more to make better affordable products that the general consumer has access to.
What is the most valuable lesson your have learned during your work?
Stay calm. Have an open mind. Talk less, listen more.
If you could be someone else for one day, who would you be, and why?
My first thought was Genghis Khan, you know riding around on a horse being master of the known world and all… Or maybe Geronimo sticking it to the U.S. Army out on the plains and mesas. But on second (third?) thought, I’m going with legendary Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku. Way less bloodshed, much more surfing and Aloha.
Can you describe your ultimate pair of jeans?
If a 1960’s Levi’s 517 got drunk with a RRL slim bootcut, had crazy denim sex and the resulting indigo accident was a 32 x 34 bootcut bastard jean.
Do you have a life slogan, or one that inspires you?
“Roll with the punches.”