The Story of Vereda
Meet Evan O’Hara, the Founder of and designer behind Vereda, one of the last ateliers to vertically produce garments with authentic, wild alligator skin. Widespread success is not so simple though; even with influential mentors and loads of ambition, his work is demanding. DoMa took a visit to Evan's studio to find out more about how his brand came to be and what it takes to make each luxurious piece in his collections.
Floridian-born and raised, Evan was surrounded by natural beauty and subtropic landscapes. There's even something special about the swamps and their inherent mysticism; the wetlands have their wonder too. Everything about his upbringing informed his ambition. It felt fitting to coin his brand "Vereda," which is the Latin word for "path" and the name of the very street of his childhood home. Each creation he makes leads back to this inspiring environment and its apparent influence on his work.
Before Evan started his own atelier, he worked for a few other fashion houses in New York, honing his construction skills and the intricacies of garment-making. Once he mastered processing materials, he found a factory where he could practice his own artisan work.
Lo and behold, the factory shut down during the pandemic. Evan took matters into his own hands and decidedly purchased one of every machine the factory had. While he shares this anecdote, he chuckles and gestures to a nearby (and intimidating) machine. "This one is really cool actually." Evan places a fragile hand on the beast. "There's only one of these machines as far as I know, and because the factory was closing, they basically were gonna throw it away." He cracks a smile while he reminisces. "I really had to sacrifice to get this one up here with no elevator. It's 700 pounds and split into 3 pieces. One of my friends is a kickboxer and the strongest guy I know, so I called him and another guy. They tried to quit halfway through getting it up to the studio."
His smug grin reflects his gratitude that they persevered. "It's a fringe machine, and I plan to do a lot with it in the future."
Evan’s now transformed studio is split with his wife, Gigi, but formerly there was another tenant. Daniel Roseberry, Creative Director of Schiaparelli, designed and sketched his collections there, giving the space this contagious energy for harnessing all things creative ingenious. We felt it there too.
Next, Evan navigated us through the complexities of his artisanal process. His production is completely vertical, meaning he sources the skins, processes them, creates patterns, hand-paints, stains, and sews each garment himself, in-house. The approach itself also makes the designs more accessible and affordable. "All the tanneries have been purchased by large luxury brands so the price of even one of these skins would be in the thousands if it weren't for my vertical integration," Evan explains.
The time-consuming and strenuous nature of his craftsmanship is something that garners a certain amount of rightful pride. By definition of couture, Evan's work exceeds the criteria, done entirely in-house and being involved in the leather processing takes it a step further, as other houses will usually source their materials elsewhere.
Each design can take years to execute completely because of its elongated tanning and dyeing processes. After that's all done, however, there are still hundreds of hours of sewing and constructing. But, to Evan, this is where the fun begins, as he can start painting and dying the leathers in whatever way he wants. He develops the shape by creating a muslin, then a pattern. A looming and luxurious trench hangs behind him, and he notices it catch our eye.
"This trench coat is made from giant wild alligator skins that are extremely rare in this size." Evan maps out the garment and begins to dissect it further. "As you can see here, there's no seaming. This is probably our most complex piece."
Evan then acknowledges that a major source of his success lies in the support and assistance he received from his wife, Gigi. While he was working to master skills that had taken his mentors a lifetime, she was compelled to kickstart her own non-profit, Closely Crafted. The two worked together to build the foundation, prioritizing the preservation of local artisan craft and manufacturing. While founded in 2020, it officially launched just a few months ago. While the duo of course wants to highlight their own brand, they are excited to champion other American artisans with like-minded values and phenomenal skill sets.
There's no doubt that Evan's carefully calculated craftsmanship makes these pieces treasures worth taking home. Discover the extraordinary collection, available now, only on Dora Maar.