Drawing from the rich creative sources of graphic design and fashion, husband-and-wife design team Julie Haus and Jason Alkire created the innovative label HAUS ALKIRE. We talked with the couple about the origins of their brand, the importance of local production, and the inspiration behind their latest collection.
SHOPBOP: HAUS ALKIRE started as an underground project. How did that influence your designs?
JULIE HAUS & JASON ALKIRE: We began by making one-of-a-kind pieces for private clients—pieces they would treat as collector items. So, our design philosophy is to be distinctive and to live up to that original uniqueness in each garment. We develop and use complex textiles, precious materials, and our own prints, each of which is a painting, drawing, or photograph by Jason.
SB: You merge fine art with fashion design. How did you first come up with this concept?
JH & JA: We were looking for something personally fulfilling that we could build together, so the concept was a natural fit for us, as we have experience in those fields.
SB: HAUS ALKIRE originally specialized in made-to-order pieces. How do you maintain that level of uniqueness now?
JH & JA: We approach our select retailer clients the same way we approach the made-to-order clients of our own shop in New York. Each season, we personally sit down with your buyer, Justin, and discuss how we can make special pieces just for Shopbop. Therefore, most of the pieces you see on the site are limited editions, or in many cases the only pieces in existence.
SB: What is the one HAUS ALKIRE item every women needs in her wardrobe and why?
JH & JA: The Maldonne Blazer, because of its poetic and timeless take on the classic tuxedo jacket.
SB: All of your designs are made in Manhattan. Why is that important to your brand?
JH & JA: Unfortunately, in this mass market, cheaper/faster, knock-off world, the US fashion trade is eroding. Every time fashion is imported it means a bit of the American industry is being exported. We feel a sense of duty to do something to counter this. For that reason, and our emphasis on quality control, we design and manufacture here.
SB: Can you explain the inspiration behind the fall/winter collection?
JH & JA: We spent the wake of Hurricane Sandy in darkness, and it was really a visually stimulating experience. That experience is at the soul of this collection. The colors, prints, and textures came directly from our life during this time. The prints on Shopbop are artworks of a banksia flower photographed by candlelight reflected in an antique mirror, an abandoned Washington Square Park scene, and an image of an entire SoHo street block with one apartment lit by candles. The collection also explores texture through the use of exotic eel and anaconda skins, flat textured furs, washed crepe silks, cashmeres, fused wools, and the hard surfaces of Swarovski crystals.
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