Oh, it was great. It was extremely validating and also affirmed the fact that there was a customer who expected this kind of product from me – and a customer at every market level and in every size category, at that. That was really, really super affirming.
The collaboration was planned to be quite small, but through the product creation process, it grew exponentially. So at the end of it, I said, “Okay, I think the market might be more fun and open today to what I have and what I say and what I do than it was even six years ago when I left. “
Both Jodie Turner-Smith and Tessa Thompson wore your looks at the Venice Film Festival. (Jodi too wearing two.) How do you feel about getting credits on the red carpet again?
I love those girls with all my heart. That’s something I love about being in LA; it is the closeness to them. What I specifically adore about what those women do on the carpet is that they embody the HARBISON woman in front of so many people, so instantly. Jodie is strong, intelligent, athletic, beautiful, poised, talented and confident – and that’s typical of the HARBISON woman. So if it’s her, if it’s Cynthia Erivo, if it’s Tessa Thompson… I can put clothes on all those women and have them walk these carpets so everybody can see [them and say]”Oh wait. This is what HARBISON stands for.” I love it.
I think it’s safe to assume that you definitely want to each woman to draw you to your outfit, but I can’t help but notice that the three women you just mentioned are all black. Does this add another layer of significance to you?
Well, me Start with black women because these are the first images of beauty I have ever seen. They were my mothers, grandmothers, aunts. It was the way they moved in clothing, how they approached beauty and approached makeup, how they were utilitarian and strong women, but also very feminine, beautiful and curvaceous. When I think about women and femininity, I start there.
So, with this collection, I started there as well. The palette, inspirations, stories and memories I am wrapping in these clothes are memories of those women. It is for the sake of every woman, every person and every customer. But I want everyone to be clear that it starts with those. Although it is for everyone, the core is that they did in the world – and what they did for me.
What do you hope these next few years will look like for HARBISON?
Honestly, I hope the next few years are all about growth. I’m making sure that anyone who wants a piece of this world—of this kind of optimistic world that I’m building—is able to get a piece. And I want that expansion to take over menswear, as I said, but also accessories, beauty, home, what have you. I’m really just a product guy! I love beautiful things, and I want beautiful things to come from this brand, and those beautiful things to reach everyone who loves them. Because I don’t play games. No games!
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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