Harping With Charles Harbison
As the dust settles following Charles Harbison’s sophomore collection, the designer takes time to fill in The Daily on the overwhelming influx of media coverage it brought him. Seeing as his collection was inspired by a mix of Aaliyah, the Caribbean, Yves Klein and a handful of other muses, the clothes were clean, well-tailored and most importantly, fresh! Having paid his dues at Michael Kors and Billy Reid, the time for Harbison’s own close-up has finally arrived.
Give us the details on your background!
I cut my teeth at Michael Kors Collection and from there I went to Luca Luca, doing super lady-like eveningwear. From there I went to Billy Reid and launched womenswear for him.
What’s the difference between working for established companies and being your own boss?
When I worked for those large companies, I was very specialized and I only focused on design. Now that I’ve popped out on my own I have to be adept at doing production, merchandising, marketing, PR and sourcing. Over time, I’ve been able to bring in great partners in those areas, but at the end of the day I have to have a vision for it all. It’s intense, dude!
Your Spring collection got quite a few rave reviews from the press! Which piece stunned you the most?
The September issue feature [in Vogue] was just that affirming element I really needed. To have Mark Holgate, Virginia Smith and Chioma Nnadi say they wanted to work with me exclusively was amazing. It showed that they really valued my work.
Did those reviews translate into sales?
It has and it’s become more ammunition and reason to bring in retail outlets. We’re trying to nail down those final orders now!
At the moment, where can we buy Harbison?
We’re currently at Ikram in Chicago and Satine in L.A., but I would really love to have another account in New York. As much as I’m a Southern boy that lives in Bushwick, I’m a true New Yorker.
Do you use any southern charm in your designs?
Being from the south totally permeates all I do. The women I grew up with love beautiful clothes, but they truly lived their lives in them. They worked in them, schlepped in them, shopped in them and entertained in them. I just relate to that feeling of luxury on the pavement.
Do you enjoy sitting for photographs that accompany the reviews?
No, not the slightest bit! I used to be able to do my work and clap for my boss, but now they’re clapping and looking at me!