7 Minutes with: Distilled

Looks from Distilled’s spring 2008 collection

Sep Kamvar and Matty Merrill of SF-based menswear line Distilled are self-described geeks with an appreciation for good style. The duo met while in school at Stanford, where Kamvar earned a Ph.D. in math and computer science and Merrill, a former menswear designer for Triple Five Soul, studied design. The Noe Valley residents took a quick break to chat about their new spring 2008 collection (available at Nomads and Bloomingdale's), surfing in Capitola and their connection to geeks everywhere.

What are the essential elements of your personal style?
MM: I get analytical. The clothes must solve the design problem of “What will I wear that make me look and feel good?” This means fit and quality come first, followed by style, color, features and last, trend. A good dress shirt, classic raw denim and a killer jacket pretty much take care of the outfit. Throw in a scarf for flare because SF’s damn chilly in the summer.
SK: Poise, playfulness, function, fit, simplicity and detail. Alternatively: denim, short-sleeve woven, beanie, Adidas Rod Lavers shoes, summer scarf and black socks.

Where do you shop for non-Distilled clothes?
MM: Nomads for tops, Self-Edge for bottoms and Bloomingdale's to see what’s hot. I love the Market corridor from downtown through Hayes to the Mission, because that’s where the energy is.
SK: Non-Distilled apparel? The only time I’m not wearing Distilled is when I’m naked.

Your spring line (like some of your other collections) looked somewhat nerd-influenced. Do you both relate to geeks?
MM: Of course! Geeks are people who are passionate about something. We completely share that. We also share the ability to code Unix.
SK: Yeah, Matty and I are definitely geeks. Matty brings more of the passion and I’ve got more of the Unix.

Who is the Distilled man?
MM: The Distilled man is young, smart and appreciates functional details. There is nothing worse than details that don’t have a purpose, like false pockets or flashy trims just for trim’s sake. Distilled details actually work: our polos feature a neck piecing in terry cloth to wick away moisture and we have a summer shirt that features a vented back, like a windbreaker, a sun flap collar to protect against neck burn and a second set of buttonholes, so that the shirt can be worn open during the day and cinched for a more fashionable fit.
SK: [He] is the math team captain who ended up with the prom queen.

Any chance of seeing Distilled women’s wear in the near future?
MM: Everyone keeps asking if we will do kids’ [apparel] now that I have a three-month-old son, but I think ladies’ is more likely. Maybe in a season or two.
SK: We’ve been talking about doing ladies’ [apparel] for quite awhile, but we want to make sure we do one thing at a time—and do it right.

What do you guys do in your spare time?
MM: Current personal projects include the development of a skateboard with a baby car seat attached.
SK: I do a lot of art and just finished this piece: www.iwantyoutowantme.org, a commission for the MoMA in New York. I love to surf—my favorite break is Pleasure Point in Capitola.

Images courtesy of David Roemer
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