LOS ANGELES — For Erik Hart, there's more to life than a rock show. There are art galleries to visit, the streets of Tokyo and London to explore and a multimillion dollar business to grow.
Five years after he started outfitting rockers in languid T-shirts from his streetwear label, Morphine Generation, Hart will begin selling sharply cut tuxedo blazers in shiny chintz wool, silk kimono dresses toughened with drawings of thistles, cuffed wool trousers, high-waisted pencil skirts, felted wool motorcycle jackets in a Buffalo check and 31 other styles in a higher-end line launching this fall.
The new line, Erik Hart: Factory of Aesthetics & Dreams, will encompass all the ready-to-wear that Hart offered in Morphine Generation but in better fabrications from Italy and Japan, with attention to silhouette and fit. Although Morphine Generation will continue to offer streetwear, Ts and jersey pieces wholesaling from $30 to $90, the higher-end line will cost between $50 and $270.
"It's nice to dress up," said a jean-and-blazer clad Hart, sitting in his office in the corner of a chilly warehouse built here in a space that previously housed the swimming pool for the Knickerbocker Hotel. "Morphine Generation is more casual. It's oriented around artwork and prints. The point of Erik Hart is you can dress it down or dress it up."
Targeting a customer between the ages of 18 and 35, who works in a creative field, Hart said the darkly urbane clothes from his second line can be worn straight from the stage of a rock concert to an art gallery opening. Indeed, the 28-year-old designer loosely based the creations on his own life and interests, which include singing in a grinding dance band called Suicide Club, as well as being a fan of artist Cindy Sherman and writer Herman Hesse, as evidenced by the books scattered in his office.
Hart hired cinematographer Ross Richardson to create an 8-minute film starring fictitious characters named Lucien and Sophie, who form a band called The Dark Harts. He plans to show the movie in Los Angeles and New York in the spring in lieu of a fashion show.
The line's details range from Italian horn buttons etched with Hart's name on the rim to an oversize zipper that splices the back of a shift dress. He also injected street smarts into a racer-back design for a minidress shimmering in metallic jersey and thumbholes in the exaggerated cuffs of a cropped cable-knit sweater.Aiming to place his namesake line in high-end stores worldwide, Hart said Los Angeles' Ron Herman was among the first to pick up the collection. Erik Hart is projected to generate $2 million in wholesale sales in its first year, compared with Morphine Generation's targeted annual sales of $6 million to $8 million through retailers such as H Lorenzo in Los Angeles, Loveless in Tokyo and Atrium in New York.
Aware that launching a pricier line in the middle of a challenging retail industry can be difficult, Hart said he wanted to ensure comfort in cutting-edge design, not to mention versatility by offering a wide patent leather belt with a silk-cashmere cowl-neck dress and encouraging shoppers to style five different looks from one item.
"While this is an artistic outlet, it's also my business," Hart said. "I want this business to grow. I want this to be an alternative lifestyle luxury brand that people can afford."
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast