Heron Preston on his first flagship store, Kanye West, and growing up in the Bay Area
December 21, 2018
It’s safe to say that streetwear labels have become part of the Chinese youth’s uniform. A typical attire includes a Supreme fanny pack, an Off-White shirt, maybe a pair of Fear of God jeans…and, of course, a pair of Yeezys – it’s a formula.
As the demand to diversify the streetwear scene in Asia is on the incline, Heron Preston has hit the sweet spot by opening his first ever flagship store in Hong Kong last month. Preston is a multifaceted artist who doesn’t just design good clothing, but is also a published documentary photographer, DJ on request and creative consultant who’s worked for Nike and Kanye West.
With such a solid and extensive repertoire, Preston has managed to command global attention with his streetwear label, which first crashed the scene in 2016 with his “UNIFORM” collection in partnership with New York City’s Department of Sanitation. I managed to sit down with Preston himself, to look back on his career trajectory, being a San Francisco native, and how to keep up a jack-of-all-trades hustle.
Congrats on your first store! What made you decide to have it in Hong Kong?
In discussion with my business partners, we thought that Hong Kong would be a good luck city for our first store. It’s like the NYC of the east, it’s a great place to introduce our brand to China and the rest of Asia.
Did you know from the start you’d want to make your groundings in Asia?
At first, I didn’t necessarily think about it. I have amazing partners in Italy, and after a lot of discussion we decided that Hong Kong would be the best city for us to grow and get a lot more eyes on the brand. I’ve been mostly active in North America and Europe, so this opportunity was the next step in the evolution of the brand.
I also heard you’re from the Bay Area as well!
Born and raised! Lower Haight, San Francisco!
But you went to Parsons for your education. So Heron, which coast is the best coast?
Man…I love them both! I’ll say the west coast for the weather, because the east coast gets brutal. Every time I go back to San Francisco or Los Angeles, it just feels calmer.
I found that growing up in the Bay Area, people are so used to the suburbia lifestyle. What drove you to want to get out of that, and how do you feel about your career up until this point?
I grew up skating in San Francisco, so I think watching movies of kids around New York and seeing that skate culture was always so fascinating. So the energy and culture is what really attracted me to move out to New York to do Parsons and do education there… then also deciding to live there after graduation.
What was your major?
Design and Management. And as far as my career, it’s a work in progress. I never necessarily saw myself in the light as a fashion designer, because that’s not what I did at school. I did something a little different, but still rooted in creativity, art and design. So it just started off as making t-shirts around San Francisco, screen printing by hand myself – that was my creative outlet. When I moved to New York, I started blogging, taking photos, making videos, documenting the downtown lifestyle, which all eventually turned into a book deal! So all of these projects up until this point have been like building blocks into launching the full collection you see now.
How would your teenage self react knowing what was going to happen to him in the years to come?
I don’t think my teenage self could’ve imagined it haha, he’d be super psyched. I’ve always been into clothing and style, growing up in the Jordan era, collecting sneakers. He’d be so excited by what’s happening right now.
It seems like you really like orange, why is it such a prominent colour in your work?
When I was launching the collection and thinking about what some of the signature staples of the collection would be – from the logos to the colours, I was looking at a lot of photography of the Heron bird. I saw some orange in the colour palette of the bird, and that’s how I made it the key colour.
Have you dressed anyone in particular or have you seen someone wearing your clothes that you’re personally a huge fan of?
I just recently saw Cardi B wearing the collection! I just did this Uggs collaboration and was so excited to see her in it.
How did it feel to see them wearing your designs?
It’s always a surprise, working in this business you never know whose buying your stuff until you see it out.
You also DJ on the side, how does it play out into your fashion career?
It goes hand in hand, it’s like the heartbeat of culture. Music drives a lot of what we do, the night life and partying. These moments are when some of the best ideas are being shared. Going out is like a fashion show in itself, seeing the interesting and unique ways that people put their style together. It totally goes hand in hand, I can’t imagine fashion without music.
You’re friends with other prominent creatives like Kanye West, Virgil Abloh, Matthew Williams. Have they influenced the way you work? How do you think your brand differentiates itself from the rest of the streetwear realm?
We all kinda feed and build off of each other. We’ve all created together, from working with Kanye to also doing our own projects with other brands. A lot of this is an evolution of our youth and our friendship. There’s a lot of similarities between us but the way we differ is in the storytelling and our approach to marketing – how we decide to present our brands.
Now we’re gonna do some word association, so I’ll say a phrase and you tell me what’s the first thing that comes to mind… your go-to drink?
Right now, Ian Connor.
Something you can’t live without?
Something that makes you happy?
The next step?