On the surface, it seems Heron Preston seamlessly walks the line between fashion and workwear. But for the designer, it isn’t good enough.
“I position Heron Preston as elevated workwear, and by default, I have an audience of construction workers and real workers that follow my work,” he said. “I kind of consider them my athletes. And I listen to my athletes like Nike would listen to its athletes.”
What those athletes have told him is that while they embrace his aesthetic, they can’t wear his collection on many work sites. “They’re not designed to be able to perform in certain environments where you’re working close to flammable liquids or fire or high-voltage electricity,” he said.
So Preston charged his team to work with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to obtain safety certifications for his fall collection.
The result is a men’s and women’s offering centered around Preston’s “very best pieces that define the brand and amplifying those stories,” he said. That includes hooded and zip-front jackets, polo shirts and track pants created from flame-resistant textiles — emblazoned with patches boasting OSHA’s seal of approval.
Beyond that, the collection, which he named “Between Two Worlds,” features workwear-inspired staples including slightly oversize jackets, boot-cut denim and chinos. There are also some overt fashion elements such as cropped teddy jackets, a lively heron bird print on pants, overshirts and floor-length mesh dresses, a ruffled satin shirtdress and miniskirts.
There’s even a touch of tailoring that has been modernized with a more-relaxed silhouette and new zips and detailing so it doesn’t feel like it came from “your dad’s suit company,” he said. Jewelry such as chain-link necklaces have been “remixed and edited” to update them, and his bags and totes have also been oversize and created from more-durable workwear-inspired materials. The footwear offering includes an evolution of the Level heel, now in a kitten height, as well as mid-calf length boots.
The color palette is centered around black, white, red and a green camouflage.
Throughout, Preston’s signature orange is used, but in a subtle way this season. “We reduced the orange down to a detail but it still has its presence,” he said, likening it to “a ketchup stain on a white T-shirt. You can’t help but notice it, even if it’s tiny.”
As always, sustainability is a key element, evident in the recycled polyester-blend fabrics, antibacterial T-shirts and shorts and even biodegradable phone cases.
What is not part of the offering, however, is a collaboration. Preston said that was intentional. After partnering with everyone from NASA and the NYC Department of Sanitation to Levi’s and Off-White, he’s taking a break. “I don’t want collaborations to define me and distract from my core product.”
Although Preston had to create this collection in quarantine in New York and present it virtually rather than on the runway in Paris, as he’s done the past three seasons, these challenges allowed him to explore new territory. “This year is about less-is-more in my approach,” he said. “We were looking at creating icons and not necessarily introducing so much newness.”