Haspel brought a taste of New Orleans to New York City on Wednesday night.
A Zydeco band, seersucker sours and some Southern-themed munchies helped the brand feel at home as it celebrated its 105th anniversary.
Haspel was founded in 1909 in New Orleans by Joseph Haspel, who is credited with being the originator of the seersucker suit, and after some ownership changes, the Haspel family is back at the helm, with Joseph’s great-grand-daughter Laurie Aronson running the show.
“This is everything I always pictured it would be,” an emotional Aronson said, looking around at the 400 invited guests and the walls filled with archival photographs of the family and the factory. “I keep pinching myself. We’ve been planning this party for 10 years.”
Aronson said that the family was “fashionably late for our 100th,” so decided to celebrate its 105th birthday instead.
Two years ago, Aronson moved away from a licensing model and brought production in-house, hiring CFDA-winning designers Jeff Halmos and Sam Shipley of the brand Shipley & Halmos to design the line.
“It’s going extremely well,” Aronson said. “We are in the top retailers in the country and we’re about to add more for spring. Jeff and Sam have been so innovative with seersucker and what they’re doing with it. The brand is finally where I want it to be.”
Shipley said that with Haspel’s history, “we had a ton of things to draw from.” And while the first season was more classic, the collection now has more of a “modern attitude.”
For fall 2015, the designers will continue to “repurpose seersucker in a few ways,” he said. “It will be fun.” Halmos said working with such a venerable brand is the best kind of design challenge, and the duo is hoping to make a lasting statement. But 105 years is “an insane amount of time. We’re just a blip on the radar.”
Susan Haspel Lipsey, Laurie’s mother and grand-daughter of the founder, remembers running around the New Orleans factory as a child and pointed out photos of her parents on the wall. “It’s so sentimental,” she said. “My father was also in the family business. There were a lot of in-laws and outlaws and cousins by the dozen. [And now with Laurie running it], it’s come full circle.”