We at American Woolen love working with designers and recently had the good fortune to sit down with the talented David Hart.
Where'd you grow up, and how'd you come into the world of mens fashion?
I grew up in Annapolis, Maryland. When I was in high school I joined a home economics sewing class as a way to meet girls. By my senior year I was sewing prom dresses. I went to FIT, and when I graduated I worked for Anna Sui for a few years, then Tommy Hilfiger and then Ralph Lauren. From there I was ready to kind of go off on my own and started my collection of luxury ties.
What inspired you to move on to a full collection?
I was just ready to make that leap. I could see the collection in my head. I had a strong idea of who the customer was, and I talked to a lot of people who were looking for the kind of clothing I wanted to offer. I felt like it was time.
When designing, is there a consistent place you go, figuratively, to find inspiration?
For me it's always about telling a story. I think that was something that was really ingrained in me from working with some of these great American brands like Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger who really are just great storytellers with clothing.
At the beginnning of the season I always pick a story or a reference. So many of the references that I gravitate to are these great historical refrences. Like we could be doing a collection on the Cold War or this kind of southwest spaghetti western or Southern California surf culture. It always kind of ties back to the overall story of the season.
Here at American Woolen we're passionate about Made in America, and I know that is a passion you share. Where does that come from?
For me it's always about the quality and having that relationship and that human interaction from the factories. There's something so great about physically getting on the subway and going into the factory. Knowing the people that are actually making the clothing and to be able to have that dialogue with an actual person and to explain what you want and to see the process. If you're doing it overseas you're interacting with a screen. It's just more of a challenge.
Also, I'm an American brand. I'm an American designer so the clothing should be made here as much as possible.
What are you working on now?
The scope of my business has changed a little. I'm kind of moving away from chasing the larger wholesale accounts and moving to a direct to consumer. My made to measure business has been fantastic so we're really kind of developing clothing with our clients in mind that we can sell to them directly. I'm really focusing more on the knit wear and the evening wear and formal wear for men like tuxedos and black tie. Celebrity dressing has been a big part of my business as well.