Discovery: Erik Hart


01/27/11

Although the 31-year-old's main project, Factory, is only a handful of seasons ripe, Erik Hart is no novice. Hart started out in 2003 with Morphine Generation, a venture the young designer had launched out of his garage in Los Angeles. In 2007, Hart launched his namesake, Erik Hart, a moody, structured collection that married edgy details with classic tailoring. Two years later, Hart switched focus again, moving under the umbrella Factory By Erik Hart, which encompasses all of his projects, including a contemporary but undeniably Hart-ish lower-priced line, and photography, video and a Tumblr-style photo blog filled with found images and art. "There is no separation between my work, art, relationships or the ways which I communicate," Hart says of this multi-disciplined brand. "It's all the same to me."

While Hart's approach to making fashion often comes from artistic collaborations or a specific concept—his Fall/Winter 2010 collection consisted of impromptu photo shots in Berlin, Paris and East London, capturing bleak and beautiful urban moments—this intellectual approach doesn't mean Factory by Erik Hart isn't wearable. In fact, online fashion outposts like Revolve Clothing, ShopBop and Buy Definition carry a hefty portion of his line, and downtown boutique Oak NYC invited Hart to design limited-edition pieces for their Bondage line, where he imagined T-shirts emblazoned with sadistic cops and blindfolded gals.

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Since his Morphine Generation days, Hart has dabbled in the dark: understated silhouettes, androgynous cuts, and stark tailoring in excessive layers. Think, if she would ever wear them, Lady Gaga's street clothes, venturing into the extreme but fit for the daytime. His newest collection is perhaps his most ambitious. With billowed tops and jagged, right-angled hems and closures, Hart is demonstrating his expertise in fabric manipulation. "The foundation for this collection really started with me draping on the form, playing construction to establish that balance and tension." Using a palette of only black and cream, Hart creates contrast without pattern, but with texture— by pairing leather and cotton or folds with stretch. For a man of manifold influences and mediums, the collection is remarkably focused.

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