Behind the Design: Meet reworked vintage expert Mark Kolski of As Ever
Mark Kolski never thought he’d end up with his own clothing line, creating one-of-a-kind reworked vintage gems under the moniker As Ever. Upon first moving to NYC, he worked at a store selling western wear, then at an outdoor flea market dealing vintage clothes—gaining knowledge about sourcing he still uses today. From there, he moved on to producing commercial advertising, TV and film, before renovating restaurants (check out his handiwork at Dirty Bird, which Mark swears has the best fried chicken in NYC). The renovation thing stuck, until an arm injury forced him to make a change.
Ever the renaissance man and armed with a sewing machine gifted to him by his wife, Astrid, Mark returned to his vintage roots. But this time he took things up a notch—or, let’s say, a stitch. It all started with digging into his collection of old military finds and altering them to custom-fit his wife. Soon Astrid’s friends were requesting similar pieces. And then? “Before I knew it, I was spending more time making clothes than doing anything else,” he says.
And we’re so glad he did. We teamed up with Mark to pick our favorites from his archives and design workwear-inspired styles in dreamy colors. Learn more about the one-man band, including his most-loved vintage scores, what his production process is like and the lessons he’s learned since starting the brand.
You’ve been collecting vintage for years now. What are some favorite pieces you’ve discovered?
Finding vintage that fit me was always challenging (wide shoulders and long arms). I have a jacket problem and love every type of jacket from the ’40s through the ’60s. I have far too many, but one of my favorites is a WWII USN N-1 deck jacket.
I also really love shopping for Astrid—you can never have enough silk dresses and jeans! Well, maybe you can, but they’re so much fun to find.
You describe your clothing as “truly slow fashion.” Can you expand on that a bit?
I’m grateful demand has been high, but one of my biggest challenges is keeping up with it! From sourcing, cleaning, design, deconstruction, sewing, dyeing, website maintenance, communications and shipping, I do everything, with the exception of Astrid handling social media. It’s a slow process. I have been able to get help from friends on some aspects of production, thankfully!
Speaking of friends, how has your inner circle played a part in As Ever’s growth so far?
In 2013, Astrid signed us up for an indigo-dyeing workshop through LDBA. That’s how I met Sara Moffat. Little did I know how important that would become. We became fast friends and our kids have attended her summer camp for the last five years. She’s instrumental in As Ever becoming a business. In 2015, Field & Supply asked Sara to curate workshops for an event and she invited me to bring some of the clothing I had been making. It was really fun and I met a bunch of interesting people. I sold enough to get the wheels turning.
Sara also connected me with her camp counselor who was a buyer for an amazing store in Nolita called Oroboro. She showed my stuff to the owner April Hughes and I suddenly had clothing in a store! It was all happening so fast I could hardly keep up. Then I received an email from Sara connecting me with Joyce, her neighbor and your head designer, who had just picked up a pink jumpsuit from Oroboro after admiring one that Sara was wearing. Next, I’m meeting with Joyce and the Madewell team discussing a collaboration. It all seemed like a daydream!
Wow, what a whirlwind! Are there any lessons you’ve learned from this whole thing?
I’ve used every experience and lesson I have learned over the course of my life in this endeavor. The thing I take away from it all is that anything is possible. And being open to new possibilities in life is so important. I’m extremely grateful for all this opportunity and the amazing people I’ve met. A good friend said this to me a long time ago: “You just have to show up and do the work.” I think about that almost every day.
Thanks for sharing, Mark. Want to get your hands on your own As Ever pieces? Check out this pair of coveralls, available for pre-sale right now, then shop the collection in full on 2/13.