By Shelli DeRobertis
Andrew Livingston wore a gown last June as he graduated with La Jolla High School’s Class of 2011, and this year he wears a new title: co-founder of the New York-based clothing brand Ferris.
His small Brooklyn shop, featuring unique custom garments, vintage attire, T-shirts, hats and sweatshirts, is celebrating its grand opening on July 4 at 243 Berry St.
Ferris reinvents classic, timeless pieces by hand cut-and-sew craftsmanship. "Our style is kind of old-fashioned," Livingston said. “We bring it back around and give it a new life.”
The La Jolla native said he met Ferris co-founder Taylor Conlin, 20, just a month after he moved to New York to attend college, and their common passion for fashion design led them to create a clothing company.
Livingston and Conlin made some custom items and sold them in a consignment shop for a while, and also sold them on the Internet.
“We put a piece online and after six or seven hours it would sell so we ended up finding a spot in Brooklyn and we just opened shop,” Livingston said.
The brand name Ferris came from the popular carnival ride, the Ferris Wheel, which for the clothing company represents the idea of continuity, Livingston said.
Taylor Spong, 22, joined Ferris as a marketing specialist who also has a flair for design.
"We all work together on everything. We all make it happen and each one of us adds finishing touches to each segment," Livingston said.
Custom made-from-scratch suits start at $1,750. "Our custom suits have more of a youthful feel to them. They’re professional on the outside, but you open up the suit and there’s some crazy lining inside," Livingston said.
A suit they designed for one customer was cashmere mixed with speckled wool and leather sleeves.
“People give us an idea of what they want and we will go to the factory or cruise around and find it,” he said.
La Jolla resident Felipe Becerra is an attorney who said he wears a suit to work every day, and his son and Livingston are friends, so while on a recent trip to New York he decided to purchase a custom Ferris suit.
He was very pleased. "A.J. (Livingston) has made me the best suit ever and I am a guy who only wears Versace suits," he said.
Vintage deconstruct pieces are also created, and start at $150 for items such as denim jackets that have a personalized street look.
Ultimately, Ferris aims for retail T-shirt sales to be the company’s largest aspect, and they are moving toward creating process prints of photographs on the shirts.
Matt Larson is a successful co-founder of a premium wetsuit line who also manages Mitch’s Surf Shop on Pearl Street, and he is selling the Ferris shirts locally.
Larson said he’s known Livingston for many years and the two used to work together.
“We hired him at Mitch’s and he has this passion to make things fundamentally better,” Larson said.
At age 3, Livingston took up action sports and said his skill in both snowboarding and skateboarding led him to become sponsored by Billabong.
"I grew up in the clothing industry by chance. I used to be sponsored for snowboarding and one day I went to the Billabong factory and got to pick out some stuff and saw the graphic designers working," he said.
Now, he’s the designer.
He's currently attending Parsons The New School for Design and will attend New York University afterward. "I want to get the best of both worlds," he said.
Livingston said he plans to come back to La Jolla for a week in August.
“He's thinking like an entrepreneur, he's thinking like a CEO and regardless of what he does he's going to be successful,” Larson said.
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