Antonio Haslauer - Ampersand Heart, New York/USA

Montag, 13. November 2017
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AmpersandHeart.jpgFrom the DENIM BRANDS TO WATCH Interviews from J'N'C Magazine N°70 / 4-2017, Interviews: Thorsten Osterberger & Cloat Gerold

Creative director Antonio Haslauer founded his label in 2017 and wants to expand the fashion boundaries of denim.

Why, of all fabrics, do you believe that denim is such a perennial favourite in the fashion world?
I think most people have an emotional connection to denim. Probably no other fabric carries such an iconic legacy, yet it presents itself with such a level of familiarity and ease that it is difficult for people not to relate to it, to feel comfortable in it, to aspire to and to experiment with it. As we are seeing a major shift in lifestyles and a certain commodification of fashion trends, denim presents to the fashion world (and to consumers, for that matter) a safe harbour of enduring style amidst the cacophony of fast trends.

As a designer, how do you deal with the rich heritage of this fabric?
It is certainly exhilarating to work with an icon. My perspective on denim is to push its boundaries beyond conventional expectations. Denim is not a banal medium. It has a life of its own and responds to design more intensely than a cut of silk charmeuse ever could. Washings, shrinkage and ever-changing textures, resulting from these processes, dictate their own rules. My work is to romance the intersection between fashion design and the richness of denim as a material.

Do you orientate yourself on classic designs, draw your inspiration from vintage models or do you try to completely reinvent the patterns?
I have a lot of respect for legacy, and just like denim, fashion has its own, which I certainly look into as part of the exploratory process. When you see what fashion masters such as Poiret or Dior did with the materials available to them at the time, you realise that denim is a relatively new element in fashion. It still has a long way to go, giving a nod to the past, but also experimenting as it heads into the future.

Which silhouettes dominate your collections? What direction do you see the trends taking in the next few years?
Working volume is constantly on my mind. I think denim’s depth and the way you can “illuminate” it with the help of washes makes it a perfect canvas; so just like sfumato painting needs perspective, denim thrives on volume. I think that comfort and ease will continue to be a prevalent trend, so I consider volume to be a strong direction.

Do you prefer robust, rough or soft, flowing materials?
Since I create almost an entire collection in denim, I find myself working on a variety of textures and weights to compose a total look that complements, while avoiding repetition.

Do you notice a big difference between the trends the press enthusiastically picks up on and what ultimately works in terms of sales?
Buyers and the press have slightly different mandates. When a particular piece in the collection is able to captivate both, you know you’re onto a winner. Part of the success in terms of sales is to offer narrative. Some pieces can deliver the story by themselves, silently, but others – and often the most important pieces – need the support of the press and their endorsement, so that they can be better understood and, as a result, become successful commercially.

Do you have any special plans for the upcoming season? What’s on your to-do list?
I want to experiment with print. Denim can take so many different processes, which can result in prints without actually having to do any printing at all. That intrigues me, so it’s what I’m currently working on.

What makes your current designs different to those of your first collection?
My first collection mixed denim with sophisticated materials, like moiré for instance. I think that level of embellishment was still very new for most designers. Since then I have moved on to other things, but it is still on my mind.

What is your label’s USP?
Our philosophy is to expand the perception of denim beyond the conventional five-pocket jeans and Western aesthetics. The connection most people have with the material is a very powerful element. Denim is about a modern lifestyle. Ampersand Heart stands for a way of dressing that references the legacy of denim, while allowing you to own fashion pieces without ever being overdressed. It is a very cool way to make a fashion statement. We see our brand as a storyteller, speaking about an icon in a contemporary way.

What’s your target group?
That’s an interesting point. As I do denim, most people assume that I gear the collection towards a very young demographic. Denim is associated with youth and insouciance. The fact is that anyone alive today wore denim in their youth and somehow relates to it in a very special way. I design thinking that I can dress someone really young, as well as someone mature. Elle Magazine published a jumpsuit of ours and I got an email from a 70-year-old lady saying that she felt it was perfect for her. I was very proud of that. It was exciting to see the same piece on a 19-year-old and on a 70-year-old. Denim does that.

How will you be marketing your collection in the future?
I feel very lucky to be able to work with the top showrooms and retailers in the world today, so in terms of marketing, our goal is to expand our marketing strategy in alignment with these partners platforms. We are now initiating our online retail presence so naturally our marketing is focusing on that channel.

Your personal favourite jeans are by...?
The Japanese are true masters when it comes to denim, so I am really into my pair by Remade. In terms of legacy brand, I do have a soft spot for Lee, which was the first pair of jeans I ever owned, so I am constantly searching for their vintage pieces and totally expecting the brand to make a comeback at anytime. If they need any help, they can give me a call! (laughing)

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Interviews
POSTED by Cloat Gerold & Thorsten Osterberger at 16:01
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