Harare is just a baby of a label. Founded by Proenza Schouler alum Caroline Fuss in 2013, this line tends toward the flirty and feminine, with flattering silhouettes that could go from your day job to dancing on the tables at the Jane Hotel. Think Kate Spade, but less bubblegum and more world traveler.
What caught my eye, though, was the fact that the textiles are made by Guatemalan artisans employing traditional methods like back-strap weaving, foot loom weaving and hand embroidery. Despite this, the debut Spring/Summer 14 collection and the Fall/Winter 14 collection I saw this Fashion Week wasn’t obviously artisan–the patterns are fun, but not Fair-Trade-y.
I caught up with Fuss after her show and asked her about the textiles. “I actually designed them all, all of the artwork from start to finish. We do 80% of our fabrics now in Guatemala.We work one-on-one with the artisans in Guatemala, almost collaborate with them. We do a lot of locally knitted garments in L.A, then make them right here on 39th Street.” Asked why she makes her garments here, she said,”For me, the quality of the product is important, so we have the ability to work with the factories in the Garment District. It gives us a lot more control. It’s nice to use the resources available to us instead of outsourcing.”
(One big drawback is that I fell in love with her ombré leathers, only to be told that she doesn’t know where the leather comes from or where it is tanned. So if that concerns you, you could stick with the fabrics.)
Fuss has big plans to expand the good will sourcing to artisans across the globe. With the gorgeous textiles and tailoring that would be at home in any high-end department store, Harare seems to prove that artisan doesn’t have to mean amateur.
Check out my pictures from the fashion show: