Harper Collective, designer Samantha Harper’s newest enterprise into made-to-order clothes, has made a reputation for itself as an “it woman” model. Harper’s designs are lush, attractive and sheer — and have been seen in every single place, from the Instagrams of Kylie Jenner and Addison Rae to Charlotte D’Alessio in Galore journal.
Harper started her foray into style by promoting consolation — her leisurewear model Sweats by Sam started promoting handmade tie-dye sweatsuits within the midst of the pandemic — and later expanded her enterprise with customized identify stitching and aura-matching shade questionnaires. In her newest assortment, “Superbloom,” Harper experiments with distinctive, childhood-inspired flower appliques that connect to every of her clothes.
The flowers that garnish the ensembles are simply as playful as Harper, who sat down with WSN to debate how she constructed her model on-line, in between her faculty courses.
This interview has been edited for size and readability.
WSN: What impressed you to begin your first style endeavor, Sweats by Sam?
Harper: I began off interning at this firm known as Rosemilk, which was began by two founders that finally went their separate methods. One founder began Mirror Palais, and the opposite began Heavy Manners. I discovered rather a lot from them — it was an incredible time — however I didn’t really feel as fulfilled since you’re simply serving to to execute that model’s imaginative and prescient as an intern.
So after I got here again from the summer time internship and got here again residence to Cleveland, I began tie-dyeing completely different tops and bottoms. My dad stated to only begin promoting them at that time, as a result of they have been all I used to be sporting round the home. I created the Depop in October of 2019, and I had a photoshoot with my pal Alex within the artwork college lavatory, as a result of they wouldn’t allow us to use the photograph studio.
WSN: How did you develop your model within the digital realm?
Harper: I shipped it out to my pal Kallie Kaiser first. We turned web associates in highschool, and she or he had a pretty big following on her YouTube. She posted the set, after which issues simply type of took off from there. My Depop was doing fairly properly, and I noticed I wanted to make a web site. Shortly after I made the web site in June of 2020, Addison Rae discovered my model.
I used to be working with an influencer named Genelle Selden, and determined to ship her one thing that I had by no means seen earlier than — my identical shorts and zip-ups, however in tie-dye. I actually needed to be the primary to pioneer it, after which Genelle posted an image of her sporting each a prime from LIVINCOOL, which I had been a fan of all all through highschool, and my model’s shorts. She tagged each of us and I used to be so excited as a result of it was one of many first occasions I began getting actual publicity.
LIVINCOOL reposted it, however folks began commenting asking the place the tie-dye shorts have been from, and the model responded to the feedback telling them they have been coming quickly. I believed it was over — I keep in mind operating to my mother and telling her they have been going to kill my model as a result of they might remake my shorts and make content material in such a brief period of time. It was one thing I might by no means be capable to do as a small model. Then, Addison Rae discovered Genelle’s publish. She reached out to me, posted in my outfit, and helped set the document straight. It actually helped Sweats by Sam survive and develop.
WSN: How did you make the choice to transition from leisurewear into the handmade clothes and delicate silhouettes that you simply make now?
Harper: I might say an actual turning level was after I created the Aura Assortment on the finish of 2021, starting of 2022. I noticed I needed to be extra refined as a designer, and Sweats by Sam not felt like me. I modified the identify in 2022, after which I made a decision to take a break from all the things as a result of it was an excessive amount of work with college.
I shut down the web site for six months to deal with my senior thesis at Drexel College. We needed to do a texture or a cloth research, and I made these delicate flowers as my cloth research. I by no means thought I might promote it, however I nonetheless made the entire sketches. All the things simply aligned completely. Flowers have been simply changing into a part of the pattern cycle, however we weren’t actually there but, so I made a decision to carry on to the concept and use it later. I put it into manufacturing final summer time. The entire course of was rather a lot slower than what I believed it could be, however I’m so pleased I’m in a spot the place I really feel like I actually like what I design.
WSN: What was the inspiration behind the 2 collections you’ve produced for Harper Collective?
Harper: The flowers have been actually impressed by my childhood — I used to put on these little flower hair clips after I was little, and so they have been product of plastic. I needed to recreate them however have them instilled inside a garment as an alternative. It took plenty of trial and error, however I blended the concept of the flower hair clips with these hair bows that I used to put on as a toddler, and it turned this sturdy flower that I placed on all my clothes.
For the Aura Assortment, I made a quiz that folks may take to seek out out the colour of the aura. I needed the web site to be structured in order that you possibly can solely entry the colorways of your aura, however a bunch of shoppers nonetheless needed to see the opposite colours. I simply needed it to be interactive. I really like when issues really feel private, and this was simply an extension of that. Proper now, I’m actually into blush and a child pink, however I’ve discovered inspiration in colours in every single place.
WSN: What does a typical working day appear like for you now?
Harper: I attempt to get up day-after-day at 7:30 or 8 a.m. It will depend on my schedule, however I stand up and I just about work all day. Generally I’ll simply work on making the flowers, as a result of they’re a very powerful factor proper now. They go on all the clothes. I’m going by means of orders, reply buyer emails, or replace the web site. If there’s a customized order, I wish to ship a sketch or have a Zoom name with them. Then I’ll go on a cloth sourcing journey and run round Midtown.
It’s simply me on my staff. I really like doing all of the PR stuff myself, I feel that’s probably the most enjoyable half. I really like sending chilly emails, and I’ll attempt to ship a minimum of 10 per week which have the identical pitch with my lookbook and web site. I’ll additionally do plenty of analysis — I really like discovering new stylists that I discover actually cool. I’ll attain out and ask in the event that they wish to pull something for loans or something like that. Generally it’ll get me into bother, as a result of one would possibly reply and say they need a garment for a selected time, however I’ll have already got promised it to a different stylist on the identical time. However I really like the chaos of it, and seeing what the stylists select to do with the items is so thrilling.
WSN: Your model blew up when stylist Tabitha Sanchez put a mannequin in your gown who was later featured in a Dazed article — how did you make that connection as an rising designer?
Harper: I didn’t even realize it was going to occur. I emailed Tabitha on the finish of November, and she or he was one of many first folks to reply for the brand new lookbook. I instructed her I liked her work, and she or he stated she liked one piece, so I despatched it to her, went residence for Christmas, and didn’t suppose something of it.
She reached again out to me and instructed me she was going to place one in every of her “it” ladies within the gown for enjoyable and see what would occur. I instructed her to do no matter she needed since I wasn’t even on the town. I believed it could be so tough to get in contact together with her, since she’s represented beneath The Solely Company, however she actually responds to her private emails. It was one of the best.
WSN: What ought to followers of the model stay up for seeing from you sooner or later?
Harper: I’m engaged on a swimwear line, however it’s probably not conventional swim as a result of it’s a really distinctive silhouette. The entire premise is constructed round its sturdiness. You’ll be able to put on it within the water, however you’ll wish to take footage in it. I’m additionally doing a bag collaboration with a model known as West 78. She’s unimaginable. She makes all these baggage herself, so we’re engaged on equipment collectively. I’m hoping to do a present or a pop up sooner or later, so I’m simply engaged on constructing every assortment as greatest as I can.
WSN: What recommendation would you give to aspiring designers?
Harper: I might say watch out to not outline your self too early — don’t say you’re any such designer or that kind of designer. Be open-minded to what folks need from you, as a result of generally it’s important to go in a distinct path when issues aren’t understanding, and that’s okay. Attempt to not at all times search validation. The time period when it seems like there’s not rather a lot occurring is one of the best time to begin creating one thing actual, and it’s so stunning to see what you’re capable of put on the market into the world.
Contact Olivia Liu at [email protected]