Timeless Pieces Still Exist In The Age of Fast Fashion
Hank is a clothing brand currently based out of Orange County that's producing simple, clean garments build to withstand the test of time. We spoke with the founder Henry about his experience working for other clothing brands over the years and how this influenced him to create a brand that's mindful of making pieces that minimize waste while remaining timeless. In addition, Hank also spoke with us about how he's been able to avoid being a part of fast fashion as a brand owner, and how the individual consumer can learn to be more fashion conscious to promote a sustainable world for everyone.
Where are you from?
Henry: I grew up in Riverside and moved out to Costa Mesa about 4 years ago. I came out for school, which I finished about a month ago. I’m super stoked to be done.
Is your brand named Hank by Henry or just Hank?
Henry: It’s just Hank. Hank by Henry was just something to make it more personal. If you follow Carrots by Anwar Carrots that’s where the idea came from. I think it's cool how he tied his kids and life in with his fashion stuff so that’s kind of how I came up with the Instagram name. But on paper the brand is Hank.
Where does the name come from?
Henry: It’s a name that runs in the family. I’m Henry the fourth and my grandpa's nickname was Hank. He passed away before I was born but I ended up finding a lot of his leftover clothes. There were a couple pieces that really appealed to me that were timeless so I thought that would be cool to incorporate that into a brand.
What made you want to start a clothing brand?
Henry: It started when I’d make crappy graphic designs on illustrator in middle school and high school and push them out to friends. I always thought of it as something fun. With the direction Hank is going I decided that making timeless pieces is what I should be focussing on so instead of putting a bunch of graphics on Gildan’s. So I decided to focus on making timeless pieces that will be in your closet forever. The first project that I worked on isn’t on social media and was a leather unisex purse. I have a buddy that’s really good at leather stuff so I put it together and it came out really cool. But it was expensive and hard to do with only one person hand sewing them so I never really got to release them. It was really only for a pop-up I did. I thought it was cool to do something different to separate myself from the hundreds of brands that are just putting out shirts.
Have you always been interested in art and fashion?
Henry: Definitely since high school. It was mostly streetwear to start with but then I started getting into higher end brands that had smaller names which sparked my interest.
Talk about your “F*ck Fast Fashion” shirt. What was the inspiration behind that?
Henry: I’ve worked for a number of brands over the years and I just got tired of seeing the same exact things. Everyone pretty much copies each other and a lot of it doesn’t get bought so there's a lot of material that gets wasted in the process. That was one thing that really frustrated me. And then there’s just so many brands on Instagram that are following trends. They’re making cool pieces and designs but you're gonna get tired of that piece in a month or two and then it’s just gonna sit in your closet or become waste. It’s pointless. We’re fortunate enough to be able to make a conscious decision of what we wear everyday, so it’s me trying to take a stab at making the world a better place.
What is fast fashion to you?
Henry: To me there are two types of fast fashion. The first are the low quality pieces that are mass produced in and unethical and unsustainable way and then there’s hype brands that use trash blanks and follow trends that fade quickly. Those are the “hype” pieces that just sit in your closet.
Would you say most brands are on the fast fashion wave?
Henry: It’s hard to say. For the most part everyone has their own aesthetic but a lot of brands bounce around and pick whatever's gonna sell. So it seems like that. When you can connect with a brand that’s what makes it special. That’s another thing that makes me keep a piece because I can remember why I bought it and why I connect with it as well. That’s important to having a quality piece.
How have you been mindful of not being part of the “fast fashion” wave as a brand owner?
Henry: Everyday I make it a goal to make one or two designs that I’m pretty stoked on or a couple ideas for cut and sews. I then sit on the designs for a while and if I get tired of anything I’ll dump the idea because I want to make sure a piece can stand the test of time. That’s why I only have like two pieces out right now. The last collection I did was only like three pieces as well.
What about those three pieces stood out to you as timeless?
Henry: Just the simplicity of them. The last shirt that I put out is this organic cotton tee that I sourced in LA. It's 7.5 oz and super comfy. I also did a tonal embroidery on the left chest that adds a cool touch. It’s a shirt I want to wear every day.
You’ve been printing "F*ck Fast Fashion" on plain white T-shirts as well as a number of different shirts that already have designs, correct?
Henry: Yeah. The last drop I did with those were all printed on vintage T-shirts that I found from this massive warehouse that I went to in LA. It’s a hidden little gem. They have so much stuff, it would take days to walk through. All the stuff is from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s ranging from military clothes to hooters shirts. The whole idea was not wasting new material and using what we have so those were the coolest shirts I could find that were also the best quality.
How did you choose the shirts to print on?
Henry: I was pretty much just picking the shirts that I thought were cool and kind of tied in with the brand and something Hank would like. Initially it had a rough western theme but then the Lil Nas song took off which turned me off the idea. I don’t want to be attached to one aesthetic, I really just want to be known for having pieces that are simple and clean. I think the different themes are fun but they’re like trends, they eventually die and simplicity will never die.
How can the individual consumer be conscious of not supporting fast fashion?
Henry: I think it’s just about being conscious of what you’re buying and how long it’s gonna last you. I’d rather buy one pair of board shorts that are gonna last me years instead of five different colored pairs that are gonna last me a year. There are a lot of factors that come into play. You can buy expensive board shorts but they’re still probably made in a factory in China by a kid for 20 cents an hour. So it’s being conscious of where you’re buying your product from as well.
How can brands continue to be successful while being mindful of the environment?
Henry: That's a tough question because that’s what I’m trying to figure out. I think Noah Clothing out of New York does a really good job of explaining where all their material is coming from, how it’s being made, and what it takes to make one piece while minimizing waste. I think that’s really cool so that's someone I look up to.
What are some other brands or artists that you think we should support?
Henry: That’s a tough one too because I’m the biggest critic. But I'd say JJJJound which is this design studio out of Montréal, Canada. They started out as a mood board on Tumblr and kind of took off. They make the most simple, clean pieces you could dream of. They’re starting to be more sustainable too so I think that’s really cool.
When you say you’re a big critic, what's the biggest thing you're critical of?
Henry: I think it's about being original because everyone's kind of ripping each other and really just going for making a lot of money. To me that isn’t cool. To me this is a passion project, this is hard, this is what I love. If someone’s diving into my hobby just for the money it’s whack. I get it though, everyone’s money hungry. I’m definitely money hungry but I don’t want that to impact what I love to do.
Are there any brands you want to work with in the future?
Henry: I would really like to work with Matt McCormick. He’s a tattoo artist out of LA who’s kind of blown up in this past year. He does incredible oil paintings as well that are mostly western themed. They're timeless and just beautiful. He also has a brand called One of These Days. He kind of does the same thing that I believe in, putting one piece out at a time and not really following seasons. Just doing what feels right, whatever you believe in.
What should we expect to see from Hank in the near future?
Henry: I just got hired as the creative lead at this brand called Landers. They have all these connections for cut and sew and sourcing different materials and production. It’s really gonna help me step things up with Hank so definitely expect some cut and sew as well as some board shorts I’m working on now for the summer. And then hopefully I’ll get some jackets out by winter. But everything will be custom cuts, no blanks so I’m pretty stoked on that.
What do you want Hank to be?
Henry: That changes about every other day. But for me the dream would be to have a creative house that offers screen printing, cut and sew, direct to garment printing, and a photo studio. It would be a “Hank” house that helps other brands develop and grow. I want to mentor younger people to help them establish a solid foundation and move in the right direction.
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