“When I write a song, I start out with a visual representation,” says Greg Ullery, motioning to a series of photographs of astronauts, torn from magazines and printed off of the web, taped to an otherwise white wall inside his Venice Beach loft. “So if a piece of the melody is supposed to feel spacey, I’ll look at images of the moon or of solar systems for awhile, to get going.” Ullery describes this trademark style of his as “narrative minimalism:” a strong, clean aesthetic, derived from an initial sense of story. The same sensibility served as the founding principle behind Riviera Club, the cult-adored men’s label Ullery launched in Santa Barbara during his twenties with his friends, Derek Buse and Joe Sadler, a collaboration that ultimately led him to Lucky Brand, and to Los Angeles, where he now divides his time between surfing, songwriting, and scouring the globe for sartorial inspiration.
Just a few blocks from the shore and from Venice’s eclectic street scene, Ullery’s loft is outfitted with little more than the basic necessities of a creative, California life. A pair of surfboards, one shiny and red, one dinged up and white. Several Fender guitars. A fridge full of neatly-organized Fiji waters, Coronas and Perriers. A closet stocked with several white T-shirts on hangers, folded jeans and a single indigo blazer.
Clockwise from left: A jar of preserves from Gjelina, one of Ullery’s favorite hangouts. A stack of art books and a propeller from an installation Ullery did for Ron Herman. Objects from Ullery’s vintage photography collection. Images Ullery references while songwriting. Heirloom Beatles Bobbleheads.
Against the meticulously arranged backdrop of the space, a row of pottery displayed on a shelf in the kitchen both blends in and makes itself known. The ceramics were all handmade by Ullery’s father, Greg. A rough-hewn wooden bench on Ullery’s patio reflects his uncle’s craftsmanship. “He can build pretty much anything,” says Ullery, of his uncle Dave, who also first taught him to play guitar and to write music. Now, Ullery applies the imaginative discernment he inherited from his uncle and father to trendspotting travels in India, Mexico and Japan. To establish Lucky Brand’s spring men’s collection, for instance, Ullery handpicked textiles from a renowned Japanese mill and scoped out Tokyo streetlife with an eye for the little nuances that lend a fresh twist to a blazer or to denim. After all, in Ullery’s words: “You have to be pretty creative to reinvent a 5-pocket jean.”
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