At the Edge of the Wave: An Interview with Designer Harris Reed

Culture — 22.02.17

Words by Desislava Todorova
Images by Harris Reed

LA born, half Mexican, half English BA Fashion student Harris Reed is the perfect blend of international creativity. With his mother having her own perfume business and his father being a film producer, he has seen firsthand what it truly takes to be successful in a creative field and “as many know it’s not easy, at all”. His father who has always loved film and wanted to create something beautiful and meaningful had to spend many years fighting to make his way through an actor or a script. The pure gratification comes when he sees the excitement in their eyes when they accomplish something such as a documentary or a new and “bizarrely amazing fragrance” by his mother.

His goal to be part of the arts scene came from his parents, and it only made sense to him when he discovered his fascination with fashion. Working from a young age with people such as Kelly Cutrone, Jeremy Scott, Nicholas K, and recently Phoebe English, has only pushed him deeper into his ever-going curiosity with fashion. “Fashion, or clothing I should say, to me is the only thing that can completely change the way you feel. Whether that’s an incredible jacket pulling your shoulders back and making you stand tall, or some out-there vintage number that you wore after a close friend passes away.”

Being someone like many who have had friends and family pass or go through divorces, clothing has acted as armour for him. When he gets dressed in the morning, he is not putting on clothes- he is putting on his armour to face the world. “Imagine standing in a critique and literally being ripped apart crying, but you’re wearing your favourite jacket, and you know nothing bad can happen when you are in it!”

Reed’s romantic Provençal look opened last year’s White Thursday show at Central Saint Martins, an initiative led by 2nd-year Fashion students. The concept was loosely based on his style but in a “complexly over-the-top and theatrical sense of the word”. For the project, he painted the picture of a late 1800’s boy who doesn’t fit in with society, something Reed identified with before coming to London. The character was meant to be almost genderless, like most of his pieces, whose sexual preferences were frowned upon. “Unlike me, he gets thrown out and left by his parents for being different, but his moving and constant search for finding acceptance allows him to take final refuge and find salvation.”

When designing, Reed is constantly thinking of not only the individual garment but about the environment in which the piece will inhabit (i.e. the model, styling, mood and atmosphere). Gender and a deep-rooted sense of our most inner and most exaggerated sense of self are constantly the driving force behind most of the pieces he wants to create. “I very much stand by the fact that I not only want to create garments that represent who I am and the individual I would like to see represented more in society but also create pieces with an extreme sense of detail.”

Speaking of the challenges he encountered during the creative process, he admits, “I have never made something nearly that complicated before. I had to go to a haberdashery to ask how does one go about making not just a hat but a HUGE hat. I would probably say the entire process was one big challenge but in the best sense of the word, because who wants to do something that isn’t challenging?”

His dream collaboration would be to work alongside Tom Ford. He admires him as a creator, businessman, and brand because he understands “what it means to go from a designer to a lifestyle. I might not love everything he designs, but I have immense respect for him and what he creates in all fields: clothing, film, fragrance and self.”

Reed’s ultimate goal is to have his own brand. “As much as I loved contributing to some amazing brands as an intern, I couldn’t get over that it wasn’t for me it was for someone else. I know at the end of the day having my own brand is where my heart and head lie.”

Keep up with Harris Reed and his designs through his Instagram @harris_reed.