Heron Preston | Profile
Heron Preston is an artist, creative director, content creator, designer and DJ, who’s progressive approach to design has seen him work with icons such as Virgil Abloh and Kanye West. Heron is a big advocate for sustainable fashion and his collection UNIFORM, in collaboration with the NYC Department of Sanitation, trod new ground in the fashion industry.
It’s the day after Heron’s first traditional runway show in Paris.
He’s just opened AW19 Fashion Week.
Maisie meets him at Le Bains hotel to discuss the years leading up to this moment, and what he wants for the future.
Congrats! How did you feel waking up today?
When I woke up this morning, I felt great. I learned so much in this process and I’m already thinking about the next show - what I would do differently and things to take into consideration. You don’t really know what it’s going to be like until you actually do it. As many times as you’ve gone to a show, or people have given you advice, you don’t get it until you put yourself in that situation. After people started leaving I thought “what the hell just happened”.
You’ve been doing this for a long time, and since your last show everything has ramped up. What was it that you did to make that change?
I would say progression, evolution and new ideas. Streetwear is the DNA of my brand, it’s where I came from; I grew up printing t-shirts. A friend of mine told me that he liked the collection because it was a collection he could see a guy in a suit wearing pieces from it, it wasn’t so ‘super Hypebeast-y’. That’s what I was really excited about in this collection. What I wanted people to take away is that Heron Preston is maturing, he’s growing up and he’s evolving as seasons. That’s what I was really proud about.
There are so many people that have that ambition, the dream that you’re living right now. What a lot of people don’t realise is that these amazing, creative adventures often result in 2am emails and other work that isn’t designing. What is it about you that people doesn’t necessarily see that has got you to where you are?
For sure, those emails at 2am, those sleepless nights, all that airport travelling. I’m travelling around the world constantly. I just got a new puppy, but I don’t really get to see her and I miss a lot of time at home. I remember I was in LA for an ad collaboration, I had just landed at midnight and I had to be up at 4am again for a call with the team in China. I also DJ on top of designing, so if I’m not travelling for fashion, it’s to play somewhere. It’s constant, but you put yourself in these situations because you love what you do. If you want to get these ideas out and push culture, it comes with the territory. This is the less glamorous side that we don’t Instagram.
You’re surrounded by really great people. I had the pleasure of sitting two seats away from Virgil Abloh which was insane for me. We were both there because of you. Who would you say has been the most influential mentor for you throughout your growth?
Definitely Virgil. He gave me the opportunity to launch my ideas into a full collection. Without him I probably wouldn’t be here right now. I used to work for Kanye after I worked for Nike. I was doing art direction for him and learnt a lot from him. I look at all of my career experiences as almost like a bootcamp. I learn by doing, by putting myself in the fire and hitting the ground running and I think those experiences are the most meaningful for me. They really help me push myself and figure out what my vision is. By surrounding yourself with people who are more successful and talented than you and opening yourself you feedback, it really helps develop you. You’re only as good as the feedback around you. When you’re just starting out, I think it’s super important to surround yourself with people who are just as hungry and excited as you. I think that’s the formula for success.
Do you hope that one day you can be that person for the next generation?
For sure. I still feel like I’m still that 18 year old kid that wanted to be involved, that moved to New York from San Fransisco, went to Parsons and just wanted to experience all of what New York City had to offer. I definitely look at always wanting to support the youth. I just did this interview for my friend Angelo [of the brand Awake], who runs a programme called Social Studies, which is a mash-up of cultural talks and retail pop-ups. I did the part of the project called Office Hours where kids signed up to sit down and talk with me for 15 minutes. One of the kids was a young photographer who sold his Off White Jordans to make enough money to move to New York. He taught himself how to use a film camera he bought on eBay and was like “let’s shoot, let’s make some content, let’s make some visuals together”. I love supporting the youth because, again, I was that kid who was blogging at the time and looking up to people to give me opportunities. I’d like to pass the torch and use my platform to share these opportunities. Let’s make clothes together, let’s make visuals, content, videos, let’s just try things. It all comes from just trying to do cool stuff together and I think that from that you continue to push yourself, and learn and have fun at the same time.
With this new collection it’s clear that you’re moving into new areas of fashion. You’ve spoken a lot about the evolution of the brand, making sure that you’re coming back with new ideas. What is it that you want to showcase for the future of the brand?
I’m really interested in sustainability and designing a new standard way of working for the future. I kicked off that curiosity with a project I did called Uniform with the New York City Department of Sanitation. It was a completely up-cycled full collection where I had access to old sanitation worker uniforms and all this equipment and accessories that were used by the sanitation workers. The message behind the collection was about raising awareness on how wasteful the fashion industry can be. Everyone says that second to the oil industry, the fashion and textile industries are the most pollutive in the world. I’m part of that problem, so how can I be part of the solution? I feel that when you open yourself to coming up with solutions, you open yourself to being supper innovative and inventing new ways of designing and producing. You can look at science and technology, there’s lycra and mushroom leather and that’s super exciting, new territory that I think is the future. Some of my favourite pieces from that collection were the parachute pieces that we made from military-grade parachutes, there’s some outerwear and some athletic wear. Those are my favourite pieces because that points to the future that I want to take my brand to and the vision that I have.
Who do you want to see wearing your clothes?
I think just fresh people who are ambitious, who travel the world, who are unafraid of trying new things and taking risks. Those who are super excited about the world; it can range from all ages. When I see someone awesome like that, wearing my clothes, it feels like a home run.