Heron Preston Taps Gabriel Moses In Defining His Language Of Workwear
In a new campaign paying homage to workwear and essential workers of New York City, Heron Preston and his namesake line return to the market with a deeper exploration of the category and trend. Workwear has been the catalyst for designer Heron Preston, launching his brand in 2016 through an inspired eye that identified blue-collar workers of New York City as “style icons” and “the faces of fashion,” Preston notes.
Queues of workwear live throughout the Heron Preston brand, often utilizing silhouettes and familiar materials while including a sense of usage tastefully embedded throughout. With a designed-to-last approach, Heron Preston represents an elevated language in workwear.
Preston describes this process as an “instant language that Im always trying to design into [each] collection, not to try and alienate but to invite. The face of fashion is all of us. All the exercises have been more of a styling exercise, less of a fashion exercise.” This exercise [or flex] Preston describes has already taken the fashion world and the blue-collar world by storm with his intricate collaboration and homage to the Department of Sanitation of New York.
“It’s about shining a positive light on them. It’s also reminding them that they are cool. Janitors, or people who clean up, or civil (service) workers, are overlooked. They only acknowledge when they’re in the way.” This Fall/Winter ’22 collection and campaign define a passion for designing workwear for its functionality and utility – a workwear purest.
Items like the fireman jacket, the quilted workwear jackets, and utility pants have an ever-evolving language dedicated to highlighting the mundane aspects of an innercity and its gritty appeal. Details protrude as a reference to the real world and the people that occupy and maintain the spaces we avoid in any metropolis in search of convenience through modernity. Reflective construction tape, tiled words, industrial firm texts, corporate logos, and “official” badges celebrate the bootleg culture and aesthetics that ubiquitously influence Heron Preston and the workwear-focused pieces.
He called in photographer London-based Garbiel Moses to New York City as part of an experiment to immerse the young creative in the blue-collar scene of the Big Apple. Preston says he was “really excited about working with Gabriel Moses. Working on set with him, given his lighting, his use of color, and his style, I realized you could put anything on set with Gabrielle, and it will look good. I was really fortunate enough that he agreed to work with me.”
Preston would invite Moses to New York City to experience what has seeded the Heron Preston brand. “The first time he came to New York for this shoot, I wanted him to come a little earlier in the week so he could really absorb the streets of the city, the people, and hear the sounds of the city. Really embrace New York City to the fullest before shooting for the brand,” Preston recalls. His goal was to have Moses “really channel New York City. Because it’s a lot of what the brand is about – New York city and absorbing the streets. Reflecting that back into, into the collections.”
More so, the inspiration for the Heron Preston lone has been the mix and match of street culture and the essential worker. A combination of functionality and necessity fuels the line and its homage to inner-city communities and blue-collar workers everywhere.
“For me, it was the east coast. It was rap – or, like skateboarding. Growing up, you see in the middle of winter – a music video shoot in the street – and [everyone] all wearing Carhartt and North face. You wouldn’t get that as a kid growing up in California because of the weather. You get crazy weather conditions in New York City, then, all of sudden, skaters are dressing like construction workers to battle the elements – just so they can skate in the middle of winter. Observing a lot of that made a big impact on me. So when I moved to New York, I started shopping – I would go to all the Army-Navy stores and buy my winter gear – my cargo camouflage pants, big snorkel, and puffers.”
Preston creates his latest collection within a sustainability framework to help define a new language to foster the many ideas involved. He explains that “HP the brand embraces and practices sustainability, or what I call now the LED, Less Environmentally Destructive. That’s my new term because sustainability means many different things to different people. It’s confusing and lost meaning over the past couple of years.”
“There’s been so much greenwashing happening and identifying the new word that everyone is looking for,” Preston identifies. “One of the concepts of LED is that you’re supposed to wear your clothes, but first it has to be made to last. Designed to withstand really harsh conditions. It favors the brand to adopt workwear.”
“Identifying what can work that currently is not connected” is a keystone in Preston’s design choices, ultimately, his dialogue in the fashion industry. He questions, “What are these whole new worlds that I can connect that I love that can create a whole new lane, or a whole new space for conversation – help us see things differently? I’m really big on things that have ‘Never Been Done Before,’ NVDB, that’s always been in the back of my head.”
Preston reminisces in perpetuity, refusing to relinquish his purest form “as a kid. I like to call myself a kid even though I’m 39 – [I’m young at heart] – I was always super-curious, and that always kept me going as a designer. Trying different things that feel new but also feel familiar or instant. Even though the DSNY project was completely new, everyone instantly got it.”
He concludes with an additional thesis question, “What makes the most sense for Harry Preston? And then what makes the most sense for the people that follow the brand – the fans that follow the brand. [Like] the fireman jacket – [it] just felt fresh, real, authentic, and familiar. So there’s also this instant language that is a pillar of mine. Literally, in quotes, an instant language that hits when someone sees it. Or are we going to alienate [our audience] through our design?” This thought process is all in respect to the workwear aesthetic and the varying cultures it creates, and the Heron Preston name that speaks for them.