HVRMINN founded his business as a young man ; both unyielding and obstinate with his design, he recognized that working for others would be impossible. Hence, HVRMINN established his company in the Fall of 2011.
“It’s crazy to think back on this now but I started my business out of a fourth floor walk-up in Chelsea. My apartment was on tenth avenue adjacent to the projects. The building was run down, the floors were cracked and dusty, and my clients had to pass by my scanty kitchen before entering the studio. By some luck, I convinced my Japanese master tailor to partner up with me. The guy had been measuring me for my suits for nearly a decade. But all I had to start with was the four thousand dollars that I borrowed from my close friend. We all start somewhere right? I was very fortunate though. I met my current business partners through that small operation - they were all my clients at one point.”
Many of his earliest clients were those who sought out the brand for its distinct take on suiting. It was during this time that the men’s tailored business re-flourished, and the industry chased after the Italian aesthetic : light, playful, and unstructured, while HVRMINN progressed in the opposite direction. For him, the levity and deconstruction of the suit depletes the garment’s allure. Instead, he spent years perfecting the structured silhouette of his suits, which is designed to highlight the wearer’s figure and fluidity. There is zero fuss or theatrics in the clothing ; HVRMINN emphasizes that excellent design must be consumed by the general public.
“I get asked all the time what I’m inspired by. This is one of the hardest questions to answer because it’s nothing specific but also a collection of all of my experiences. If I had to say my work is driven by the history of archaic costumes from the early 20th century and the 80’s specifically. I like to synthesize these references with vintage military uniforms. But these are the only tangible things that I can point to that influence my work... It’s a recurring theme that’s constantly present. But I’m truthfully more captivated by the psychological aspects of fashion. By this I mean the effects that fashion has on an individual’s persona.”
Dark, charismatic, and melancholic best describe the ethos of the brand and its designer. The collections are HVRMINN’s articulation of the classics which make subtle design references to the early 20th century ; yet, the characteristics that give the brand its DNA is unmistakably HVRMINN.
“I got into a lot of street fights growing up. I just never fit in and being short-tempered didn’t help... And culturally speaking fighting was no big deal... It’s nothing to boast about but truthfully the aggression is something that’s become a part of me. Even now... I’ve lived in New York since my early 20s and I’m still fighting over bullshit, like being harassed with racial slurs. I think the unease, aggression, and restlessness translates in my work. I like my looks to be sharp and convey an intimidating feeling. I never liked the idea of producing work that’s playful or whimsical.”
In the winter of 2013, HVRMINN debuted his first designer collection under his namesake line during New York Fashion Week. The Fall Winter 2014 collection marked the expansion of his made-to-measure tailoring business into a full designer's label. Since then, the brand has become recognized for its strong militaristic and tailoring details, and use of indulgently vivid olives, burgundies, browns, and blues.
“I’m a designer not a tailor. Running a made-to-measure (MTM) business was never an end goal. First of all, it never would’ve satiated my need for a larger creative outlet. My objective has always been to start my eponymous line ; I just didn’t have the means to fund it early on so I got my start in the tailoring world. At some point people started identifying the brand as a suiting company because there’s a connotation that comes with excelling in tailored clothing. Admittedly though, a lot of that pent up anxiety dissolved after launching my first collection. It freed me from the distractions of commerciality and it gave me the freedom to create an entire lifestyle brand. I’m making everything now : outerwear, shirts, trousers, accessories, you name it. And I’m taking it even further this year. But of course expanding the business brought whole new set of stressors and problems."
Now going on its seventh year in business, the brand has opened up his flagship boutique in Brooklyn - located at 247 Water Street, Brooklyn - where customers can fully immerse in the brand’s lifestyle. HVRMINN continues to disrupt the modus operandi of an industry that has been unbending for decades.
“The industry has changed rapidly. The conventional ways of doing things are already coming to an end.” And for an industry that is notoriously slow and reluctant to change, the fashion bubble is ready to pop and HVRMINN is one of the brands at the forefront of a new age of fashion retail.
Interviewed by Paul "PCK" Kang