For Raif Adelberg, every collection of luxury streetwear labelled Her_Man is dedicated to the nomads and rule-breakers who find themselves thirsting for art, design, and truth—elements of life he feels are being eroded given our lived-online existence and blind, unquestioning fervor for consumption.
The Vancouver-based Adelberg is repeatedly described as being a streetwear visionary, and his track record bears this out. Over the past decade, the designer has partnered with legendary brands such as Stussy and Buscemi, driven local empire Herschel into the fast lane, worked with menswear line Wings+Horns, and run his own Gastown lifestyle store, the now-closed Richard Kidd.
The inspiration for Her_Man, his latest endeavour (which launched in 2016), was simple. Reclining in a chair at his brand’s Vancouver headquarters, he explains that he simply had a new story to tell—and was ready to tell it.
Her_Man’s Spring/Summer 2018 Collection debuted last fall at New York Fashion Week and is available on the company’s new e-commerce platform and at stockists in locations including Korea, Qatar, and Italy. Recently, Adelberg decided to discontinue participating in the traditional luxury market formula of utilizing an overseas agency for showroom access and distribution of collections; in 2018, every item designed and produced by Her_Man originates in his anonymous studio south of the Main Street SkyTrain.
The underground 3,000-square-foot atelier is far from luxury, but it is here where Adelberg draws upon his love of punk, skate, and popular culture to create—from impulse to concept—the design and artwork for his pieces. The immediacy of controlling all aspects of the business from a single location becomes obvious when a garment can be realized in a matter of hours. With a bank of machines able to screen, print, and emboss, Adelberg’s skilled team of sewers and pattern-cutters can have a completed one-off for sale online literally hours after indulging a whim.
The Spring/Summer collection contains a wide sampling of oversized unisex staples. Perhaps tweaking on America’s two favourite past-times—baseball and war—Adelberg reworks the traditional baseball uniform in somber-toned Japanese linen topped with snapbacks screaming “LIES.” Pleated jogging bottoms are drawn high on the hip—no slouches here—with house-created latex tipped cords and a wide leg stripe. Trenches go from straight-cut to soft-shouldered, capturing a 1990s Bowie vibe, and board shorts are stamped with Adelberg’s signature lips, doodles, and text.
The designer’s personal style is reflected in layered looks with vibrant compression pants under baggy drawstring shorts, slim-cut hoodies, and acid-wash-style silk bombers. His “what’s new is old and what’s old is new” mantra, which is part of the genesis of all his creations, flourishes with the repurposed vintage Levi’s jackets that will tug at Generation X’s nostalgia for Vans, Lichtenstein, and early David Lee Roth.
The question now is if Her_Man will be able to maintain the gaze of a new generation of buyers with this strong nod towards nostalgia, and if where Adelberg has been will continue to influence where he goes next with the brand. “Everything’s already been done, so it’s not about moving on to what’s new,” he says, following up via phone from Winnipeg, where he is on a personal trip. “To really understand the meaning of the story—the reasoning behind it—it’s about more than just consuming. It’s like the old saying, ‘Money can’t buy you class’; for me it’s about substance, flavour.” Substance and flavour: no matter where he goes, those are two things Adelberg offers in abundance.
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