If the name Erik Hart sounds familiar to you, then you may have been a fan of his street fashion line Morphine Generation, which launched in 2003. Nowadays, Hart has moved on from hoodies and tees to creating a line of beautifully structured separates called Factory by Erik Hart.
The collection, which combines expert tailoring with a tough aesthetic, is perfect for day to night dressing. And to make a great brand even better, all the pieces are priced below $350! Factory is already stocked in Oak and Fred Segal, but now non-coastal Americans can get in on the action, because the dress pictured at right will be exclusively stocked in Saks nationwide.
We were lucky to ask Factory founder Erik Hart some questions about his latest venture.
Fashionista: You have a long history in fashion, can you talk a bit about how you got started? Erik Hart: My background was originally in music. From the age of 16 on I was fronting various post-punk, noise, and hardcore bands. I grew tired of everything that surrounded that world and its commercial requirements. I have always had a passion for making clothes and creating images. I thought the best way to do this was through the creation of clothing. Around 2003 I started a collection out of my garage which began with the idea of creating an artisanal hand made luxury tee. This concept grew into a largely coveted cult label and collection called Morphine Generation. The whole process served as my non-conventional education in fashion, as I am self taught. While this was going on I started to launch my eponymous label and other collaborations. My passion was always in collection and construction. I eventually put Morphine Generation on an indefinite hiatus some years back. My primary focus since then has been Factory by Erik Hart.
What inspired your change of direction from Morphine Generation to Factory by Erik Hart? There was no conscious change of direction. Its more of a creative and aesthetic evolution.
The collection aims to bridge line between fashion and art. How do you see fashion and art interacting? I feel the notion of creating borders between creative mediums and practices is such an antiquated notion. I like to think of designers and artists as "creatives." A large part of my creative process and inspiration comes from the work I do in other fields, such as art, photography, art direction, video, sound, and installation. You can see a lot of this interaction on my online diary www.erikhartprojects.com.
For example, I recently worked on a project for a British publication. I collaborated with the Russian artist Tatiana Leshkina. The images created for this piece are an example of the crossover between fashion and art on many levels. The images are a combination of a shoot done in London and images captured in Berlin. Pieces from the Factory Fall 2011 collection were juxtaposed with pieces from the Absalon exhibition at the Kunst-Wurke ICA Berlin. You can draw parallels between the aesthetic and compositions of both works in addition to the environment and context in which they are presented.
What artist/musician/designer/creative person would you love to collaborate with? I would have to list a few. In regards to creating environments and installation I would love to one day work with foundation that handles the estate of the artist Absalon. I would also love to collaborate with Dan Graham. Another thing which I dream of is creating scents and perfume. I think its a such a complex and subtle way of communicating ideas and conjuring emotions and memories. For this I would love to work with the artist Sissel Tolaas. In regards to sound I would love to collaborate with Martin Rev and Alan Vega from the band Suicide and also work with the German minimal electronic artist Marcel Dettmann.
Let's talk business for a second. All the items in Factory by Erik Hart are under $350. How do you create such highbrow pieces for such a reasonable price?! I always stick to my design aesthetic and approach. The idea of “reasonable price” never enters my mind when conceiving or designing the collection. Its quite simple: I stick with a core group of high-quality and relatively season-less fabrications and always use these as my base. The focus is always on construction, quality and fit. Lastly I don't put exorbitant mark ups on my collections. Was it a conscious choice to offer your products in this affordable price range? I like the idea of a woman walking into a store and feeling inspired and good about the things she chooses to wear and purchase.
What's up next for you and your brand? The brand has been fortunate to be surrounded by excitement, intrigue and success since its inception. I am trying to manage and strategically grow and evolve this collection. Factory by Erik Hart is a concept collection. It's an interdisciplinary exercise with its focus on the creation/production of clothing, installation, video, sound, and objects. With each season I am exploring new ideas and concepts through which I can communicate the brand. I'm in the midst on working on a film which will be a modern recreation of video artist Peter Campus’ “Three Transitions.” It'lll feature the upcoming holiday/resort collection.