Monday, 25 June 2012

Designer Spotlight: HAN

I used to be one of those people who thought menswear was kind of boring, where there was little difference between designers. However after MBFWA, I changed my mind. With the addition of the Men's Show into the week's schedule I witnessed some really cool and innovative pieces for men. Then my mind changed even more when I was introduced to HAN, an organic menswear label. I was totally inspired by his website and story... I really love a good story! The designs are so refined, yet effortless and really wearable, and the fabrics are just incredible. HAN's pieces are timeless, with a on-trend twist and is my new must-have for any man's wardrobe!

The Fashion Patriot sat down with Khim, the founder of HAN to chat about his label, and what sets it apart from other designers. Read the full interview after the jump!

How would you describe your personal style?
It would be a combination of classic and refined garments, not so much trend driven but rather a distinct taste. My day-to-day outfit would either be a button up shit with a pair of chinos and a pair of boots to seal the deal or just a basic tee-shirt and jeans. I wear the same stuff everywhere whether if it’s grocery shopping, out to lunch, or a dinner date. How you dress when you’re not expecting to see anyone important fascinates me.

Where are your favourite shopping destinations?
In Australia first and foremost would be Apartment on Charlotte Street in Brisbane. Second to none, Japan and every third or so store that you stroll past there has you in awe. 
 Who is your style crush?
There are two. Pharrell Williams and Nick Wooster, both of which embody a distinct taste. In current days these characters are rare and scarce.

What can't you live without in summer?
Days in the sun designing and water of course to keep me hydrated! This song (watch below) gets me pumped for summer and drinking more water!
What inspired you to start HAN?
HAN was started with the idea of creating not only a label or brand but rather a distinct mindset that lingers on. Embracing the true value of an object that has a traceable aesthetic and at the same time holding quality craftsmanship captures the HAN label. If I were to pin down a source it would be a shirt my fathergave to me. Five years on and I still wear it every-so-often. There’s worn out patches, mismatched buttons and these unmistakable wear and tear signs. It’s these irregularities that make the garment unique to me, something that I feel almost embodies asense of character. No matter how old or tattered it gets, I feel like it needs to live on and hopefully one day I can pass it onto my child. I guess it’s these definitive elements that have inspired me to create HAN.

Whydid you choose the name 'HAN'?
HAN is actually my Cambodian name. Every element of HAN was created and defined by what I find beautiful and what I value/cherish most. It’s short and sharp and above all, I feel reveres a genuine authenticity.

Your label is all about using organic materials... How did this come about? Why is this important to you?
The idea of raw organic materials plays a big part in the design process and end garment. In my opinion these raw materials evoke an emotion when worn on the body. It’s funny to say; but you almost feel a sense of fulfillment. It’s one of those things that words can’t explain, I guess the best way to define it, is to try a HAN garment on.

The menswear industry seems to have been revitalised, and now gets a lot more attention than it used to... Why do you think that is?
 Like the evolution of man, it seems narrow minded to sit comfortably in what we have once known. We’ve seen designers push the barriers in women’s wear while neglecting that men have the same if not greater appreciation that women do. This is amassive gap in the industry and I guess designers are trying to fill that void.

Who is the man you design for?
Our ideal man is called Alfred. He’s a young aspiring professional who wants nice clothes but at the same time is on a budget, you know, has bills and rent to pay. Essentially Alfred see’s the true value of a garment. An expensive coat isn’t an expensive coat when it doesn’t look the part.

What 5 items should every man have in his wardrobe?
Top five essentials would have to be –
1. Basic white tee – if anyone has been on the mission for one, you would know just how difficult it is.
2. Denim jacket – it’s classic, clean and I don’t think you could ever go wrong.
3. Waterproofed Parka/Anorak – Let’s face it there aren’t very many people who can look good in rainy weather, this way you’re on top of your game 24/7.
4. Boots and boots! – A good pair of boots goes a long way.
5. HAN

What differentiates HAN from any other menswear label?
There are commercial labels, boutique labels and luxury labels. I didn’t want HAN to be ‘labeled’ in one of these categories but instead, I wanted to promote a strong brand image that captures quality and longevity. Our shirts retail at an average of $190aud but these prices aren’t because we’re money hungry. It’s the price of fair trade Australian production with quality Italian/organic textiles and a distinctive design aesthetic. It’s the price of what it’s worth. A HAN shirt is more than just a shirt. It’s all these little definitive details that piece together a beautiful shirt. Each component serves a purpose. It’s these characteristics that define a HAN garment from any other there. Together these traits form a strong point of differentiation.

What is the most rewarding thing about having your own label?
The most rewarding thing about having my own label is the label itself. I don’t think you could ask for more than doing what you love.

What has been your proudest moment since your launch?
Since HAN’s inception each day seems to get better and better. There’s no particular moment that I’ve proud of, more so, I’m proud of the label itself.

What was your inspiration for your SS12/13 collection?
‘basics in hue’ is inspired by the philosophy of ‘uniformitarianism’ . It’s the natural law and process of what was and how it has come to be. The process was organic in a way that these are the staples, the bread and butters, the good shit. You can wear these garments day in and out without looking like they're the only clothes you’ve got.

How do you find inspiration for your collections? 
 I’m a big fan of monochrome and neutral photos. I think that when colour is subtracted or subdued you see the essence of an emotion, story or being. Whether if it’s in nature, man-made objects or people my inspiration seems to culminate in a series of linking photos that form the inspiration of the next collection.

What is your favourite piece from the collection? Why?
Without a doubt the gem in ‘basics in hue’ would have to be the Bernard Parka. 100% waxed cotton so it’s water proof, cotton lining so it breathes well. You know it’s tactile, you can wear it day in and out. It’s light enough for the stormy wet summer days yet still perfect to pair up with a sweater in winter. Big pockets to fill up with your daily essentials and what I love about it most is the inside pocket with the earphone eyelet. There are only 15 being made, so get in fast!

Where do you see HAN in 5 years?
With the development of HAN, I see it as the ideal Australian label. Almost likewhat Acne and A.P.C do in Europe, but something that is Australian. Without a doubt there’s a lot more to come, you’ll just have to stay tuned.

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