It’s a chilly afternoon in York, and rather than bustling my way through the monolithic myriad of high-street shops, I take a stroll down Fossgate to discover the tucked away gem that is Harper and Carr.
The fashion industry is characterised by glamorous campaigns which focus on exploiting our persistent demand for new trends and the latest fads. Most recently, thousands of people will have invested large amounts of time and money in Men’s Fashion Week. Despite the hype surrounding it, many of its designs will be no longer be fashionable in six months time. In contrast, London College of Fashion graduates Greg Harper and Rebecca Carr dare to defy this norm. Their garments are instead designed to be transeasonal, durable and functional.
Rebecca elaborates on this refreshing outlook: “Every piece of ours is unique. There is a longevity to everything. It’s not just throwaway stuff – it’s designed to be used and kept.” It’s obvious when you first venture into the store that this concept is embedded into their clothing. The hand-crafted garments embody an ethic which is expressed in their high quality textures and enduring styles. The designer stresses her view: “There’s no point in thinking, ‘that’s another fashion season over,’ because that’s not the future, is it?”
“It’s almost like anti-fashion,” Greg continues, “I’ll flick through and look at shows, but it doesn’t concern us”. He highlights that development is most important to them: “It can be a way in which someone approaches creating rather than the end product – it’s more to do with the process.” The pair draw attention to their admiration of Japanese designers such as Yohji Yamamoto and Issey Miyake. Rebecca notes: “the silhouette and drape we stumble across always seems to be Japanese.”
We didn’t want to do something exclusive – we don’t like the idea of high fashion
Many of the pieces are hand-crafted in store and I pose the question as to whether they design with a particular client in mind. Rebecca laughs to herself, “People always say, ‘What’s your target market?’ and to be honest we don’t really have one!” This is a testament to their appeal to a wide demographic. Greg adds: “We get people in their twenties and their seventies that are interested in the clothing, and that was our aim from the off. We didn’t want to do something exclusive – we don’t like the idea of ‘high fashion’. Instead, we want different wearers to be able to wear the same thing.”
The store itself is clearly devised with a certain aesthetic in mind. Greg explains the concept behind this: “The way the store moves round so fluidly parallels the clothing – the whole idea is that it’s interchangeable and free.” For instance, clothes are suspended from the ceiling with old wired hangers and the walls and tables are lined with hand-crafted collectables Anyone could easily spend an hour doting on the beauty of these products which complement the style of the garments so well. Greg emphasises: “We wanted to create something that hasn’t necessarily been done in York before.”
Finally, I ask the pair what advice they would give to students who wanted to start up their own store: “Just make sure you believe in it and are passionate about it”, they advise. Greg looks back to his own experiences: “People believed in what we were doing because we were so confident it would work.” The duo have already achieved so much in creating their own concept store and tell me they have their hopes set on expanding it in the near future.
The inclusive nature of their designs and functionality of their tailoring send a strong message to those of us who rely on disposable and ultimately wasteful trends. Take a look at this edition’s shoot to see some of Harper and Carr’s unique designs in action. M