Thursday, 7 March 2013

Discovering... HAiK

"The London menswear industry has been driven by designers and their ideas since 2005, before even. The list of designers that have played their part is a long one, some of whom have fallen away and moved on to other things," reflected an impassioned Matthew Miller at our roundtable discussion held at the close of the debut London Collections: Men back in June of last year. His Spring/Summer 13 collection offered a welcome and timely reminder that the capital's menswear existed long before the inaugural showcase of LC:M. One of the names lasercut in to his commemorative tailoring and a name fondly recalled by both Lou Dalton and Daniel Jenkins (who stocked her label) from opposite sides of the table was Siv Støldal. Now, early readers of this blog should have fond memories of the ever inquisitive Central Saint Martins graduate who showcased her carefully crafted wardrobes in both London and Paris and collaborated with the likes of Fred Perry and Topman. Hers were thought provoking garments that the wardrobe longed for and mine is still pining for her reflective knitwear. She was always interested in much more than fashion. Seemingly at the height of her powers, she withdrew from London and returned home to Tyssøy, a little island outside Bergen with a population of less than one hundred. Thankfully, the story doesn't end there. Her name, although missed and marked in London, has not faded in to obscurity. Alongside the like minded Norwegian design talents of Ida Falck Øien and Harald Lunde Helgesen, the familiar vision is blossoming once more with HAiK.

From documenting the wardrobes of three disparate men to covering landscapes in garments, Støldal's curiosity to explore our relationship with clothing is apparent in every one of her sartorial endeavours. It is certainly the case with HAiK. Her curiosity is as infectious as it is captivating. "Her studio in East London was always a place that attracted many ambitious Norwegian fashion students and graduates," reflects Lunde Helgesen. "When Siv decided to move back to Tyssøy, she invited her favourite few to start a Norwegian fashion project together and HAiK was born." Støldal has formed a formidable core. Since graduating from The Arts University College at Bournemouth in 2009, Helgesen has kept on creating collections in his own name, showing twice during the International Festival of Photography and Fashion in Hyères, once in competition and the second time as a returning winner and has been a finalist in the prestigious ITS competition. In contrast, with a background in fine art, Ida Falck Øien lives and works in LA and until recently worked as the assistant to the internationally renowned, pop-tastic fashion designer Jeremy Scott. Contrasting yet complimentary, they are united in a shared vision.

"Working outside of Norway gave us a common sense of seeing the Norwegian culture from outside, making it easier for us to draw from the richness of slightly different approach to clothing. An interest in the social meaning of clothes, dress codes and the personal stories behind choices, combinations and looks has always been a common ground in our personal creative outputs. Combining the three adds new facets and broadens the horizon of HAiK's investigative mission. Ultimately, we wanted to create a label through which we could communicate more of the information, research and ideas that always lay behind our work. HAiK doesn't only produce collections of clothes, shoes and accessories, but also exhibitions, interviews and various projects addressing the current theme of the work.Harold Lunde Helgesen

The trio of designers are more interested in style than fashion, each is more interested in clothing itself rather than the seemingly endless fanfare of the industry. "At the core of our Norwegian take on dressing lies an essential belief in the practical and functional," explains Helgesen. Their concerns and interests go far deeper than the traditional fashion system affords. Theirs are ideas that can't be rushed, forgotten or pushed to one side because that is how the show season calendar dictates. "We're currently developing our interview based research method to a more scientific level. We have invited anthropologists and sociologists to help us refine methods of investigating and recording the wardrobes of people. The three of us who are at the core of HAiK have our own ideas about clothes and appearances. In the investigative nature of our design approach nothing is left unquestioned, nothing is taken for granted and nothing escapes our analytical gaze. Three sets of eyes and three questioning minds means multiplied answers and multifaceted outcomes."

More than a wardrobe of clothes and accessories, HAiK explores various art projects whilst addressing a theme. The debut offering looked at Aspirational Clothing and dressing for success and now the trio explore dressing for location for autumn/winter 13. "The starting point to the project was a fascination with the tourist. The process of packing for a holiday gives you the opportunity/forces you to make some conscious choices about either the practicalities of some imagined situations or to assemble a perfect, select wardrobe to communicate the best version of yourself in the dream state of the perfect holiday. We began by looking at practical packing tips on Youtube and in travel guides, looking at travel specific items like money belts, mosquito protective garments, zip-off and other approaches to transformation and multifunction. We were also looking at tourists arriving back from warmer climates, still wearing summer colours and exotic prints. We thought of creating an imaginable holiday through dressing for a different location." Enough talk, lets take a look at the autumn/winter 13 look book shot by Thomas Ekström.

Lookbook photography by Thomas Ekstrom

HAiK is a collective in every sense. A creative umbrella for all an ever evolving roster of talent, undertaking and exploring a myriad of mediums. "We invite other creatives to respond to the theme of the season, and we work closely with established and traditional manufacturers and brands and apply our processes to their products and bring ideas back from their archives. For this season four fine artists created a t-shirt each with the project title 'Going Somewhere Else - Dress For  Location' in mind. The title of the project is derived from a text, which Ida Eritsland, a fashion theorist wrote after conversations about initial ideas about the theme. We continued working with the traditional Norwegian maker of "the Original Penny Loafer" Aurlandskoen. New additions are Lillunn, another Norwegian heritage brand famous for 100% wool blanket coats. Also Siri Johansen, a true HAiK-er at heart has collaborated closely with us and created a gorgeous range of luxury knitwear."

Given that the collection is entitled, 'Going Somewhere Else', I draw the interview to a close by asking each of them where they're currently daydreaming of escaping to. "Perfect snow covered landscapes with the best ski-tracks for cross country skiing," begins Øien, "Disneyland with my two lovely daughters," adds Støldal, "Atlantis," finishes Helguson. Three voices, heard perfectly as one.

Just two years old, this trio's label is exploring its own path. A different path from the one well trodden. "After a long period of Fashion Fairs, we're inspired to break up this format and to continue to develop the synergy between research, product and show," Helguson explains. Meaning "hitch hike"  in their native tongue, HAiK is an adventure that has only just begun. Its destination might be unknown but its journey is all the more exciting for it. I'm reminded of the oft quoted line from the original transcript of Kerouac's On The Road, “There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.” Thumb out, I’m willing to travel with HAiK.


The Unabashed Feminist said...

Loved the pics!

The Unabashed Feminist

10dollarmall said...

These traditional fashion are really so mice. I am impressed to see this.
Thanks for share this.

Dan said...

Great interview. It's great to read a blog that actually has words.


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