Meet Your Maker: Zac Suvalko of I Love Ugly

  • Style
posted by Kate McCart

Meet Zac Suvalko. Since dropping out of Design School nearly 5 years ago, he has worked his way up the ranks to become the Head Menswear Designer at one of New Zealand’s most identifiable men’s streetwear brands.

We caught up with the creative brainchild behind I Love Ugly’s classic designs to find out how he got his foot in the door of the fashion industry, what goes on behind the scenes at ILU HQ, and what we will see him wearing from the AW15 collection. Oh, and if you were wondering – drop crotch pants don’t play well with soccer.

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What’s your role at I Love Ugly?
I’m the Head Designer.

How did I Love Ugly come to fruition?
Valentin Ozich started it all in about 2008. He was fresh out of University where he studied Graphic Design. Before then, ILU was a pretty rough idea, and in 2008 things got a bit more serious and bit more structured.  From there, he brought Barnaby Marshall into the mix to take control of the operations side of the business so he could focus on the creative side.

Where’s are you guys based?
Our Head Office is in  Auckland, New Zealand.

Describe your workspace…
Organised chaos… Haha. I try keep it as tidy as I possibly can – there’s nothing more satisfying than organising the office. In saying that, when your dealing with a lot of fabric swatch cards and garment samples it tends to get a bit crazy.  

Walk us through a typical day at I Love Ugly
The work day starts at about 8.30 for most, but I like to get in a little earlier before the rush to make sure I’m ready for the day ahead. I then try and get through all my emails as quickly as possible so I can leave the day for more enjoyable tasks. Doing such regular product drops throughout the year means we have a lot of product coming through the doors that needed to be fitted and adjusted quickly, so there’s usually always a fit meeting with a model and the production team. With the company working at such a fast pace, there’s always something interesting happening in our studio.

Tell us a couple of strange/quirky things that takes place behind the scenes at I Love Ugly HQ?
I wouldn’t say we do anything too strange as a team but when the weather is warmer we make sure we head out the back of the studio for some soccer kick-ups. It always tends to get a bit too serious and if you’re not already aware it isn’t the easiest thing to do in low crotch pants.

Describe the I Love Ugly crew in 3 words…
The Dream Team.

If you could have any icon wear I Love Ugly, who would it be?
Steve Jobs. Simply because he was and advocate for clean, elegant and simple design which is something we are always striving towards. And, I guess it would be nice to be known as the brand that got him out of that black turtle neck and white New Balance sneakers.

Walk us through the design process for I Love Ugly’s AW 15 collection?
Research, research and more research. 

What will we see you wearing from the new season collection?
Our New Edo Pant. It’s  made from a lightweight breathable cotton so they’re super comfortable to wear. The cut is slightly oversized around the seat and thigh and tapers at the ankle with a single cuff. With a pair of fresh white Lows it’s the perfect combination.

Tell us your brief history?
Born and raised in NZ. I come from a creative family. I started to study Graphic Design at university – it didn’t really do it for me so I dropped out half way through. I picked up a casual Graphic Design job at I Love Ugly about four years ago when there was only four of us. I got to learn a lot about different aspects of the business and took a liking to the physical garment side of things. I slowly taught myself the ropes  and grew into the role I am today.

The fashion industry is a bit of a hard one to crack, how did you get your foot in the door?
I always knew I was going to end up in the creative industry. I knew Valentin roughly as his brother was a good friend of mine. I heard he had a little clothing company in its infancy so just wanted to get involved as I saw a lot of potential and had really good synergy with V.

Describe your morning routine…
I wake up pretty early everyday (I’m not one to sleep in). I then do some light form of exercise and have a decent breakfast – really nothing interesting at all.

What is your ideal Sunday?
Hopefully not hungover. 

What do you get up to outside of I Love Ugly?
Music. Music is a massive part of the ILU team and we all have strong connections to it – making beats, producing and playing. 

What’s playing in your headphones right now?
Exchanging – MNDSGN. It’a an amazing track – pretty trippy but interesting!

The last place you travelled?
I actually got back from Europe about 2 weeks ago. If you haven’t done Amsterdam, do it!

Next stop?
Hong Kong next weekend. 

What’s the next big thing to come out of I Love Ugly?
This year will be a defining year for ILU. I know that sounds like a bit of a stock standard response, but it true. We have some great product in the works as well as a few special collaborations that we a really proud of.