10 Questions With Harris Reed, Alessandro Michele’s Protégé and One Of Matches Fashion’s Innovators
Harris Reed is one very successful young person. Between walking in a Gucci resort show, interning for the Italian fashion house under Alessandro Michele, designing tour lewks for Harry Styles and studying fashion design at Central Saint Martins, Harris Reed is also one very busy young person. And despite doing all of that, Reed is still a very down-to-earth human being with a totally modern outlook on fashion – without a gender in sight. Despite not ever hosting a single fashion show or presentation, Reed is now being stocked at Matches Fashion as part of their Innovators programme, along with Francis de Lara and Marta Ferri. An innovator in every sense of the word, he approaches design from his unique perspective of designing for a being, and not a particular gender. And to celebrate this major achievement, we talked to the student (yes, he’s yet to graduate!) about his time at CSM, the uniqueness of his process and his first Instagram post. And yes, he talks about Harry Styles too… Take it away Harris – and make sure to shop his collection before it sells out !
Dino Bonacic: What do you like about studying at CSM?
Harris Reed: Studying at Central St Martins is an experience like no other. It’s truly the epicentre and this creative melting pot. What’s so amazing is the fact that when you are there you can feel that every single person who’s there truly wants to be there. Every single person who is there has been, like me, bullied for being who they are from a young age. We are all trying to show who we are and own our self-expression and self-identity. It’s beautiful that all these people not only fought to get in the school, but also are fighting to be an individual, an artist and a creative.
DB: What was the moment you had and thought – oh, fuck I made it?
HR: There has been so many amazing moments, but it would have to be seeing Harry Styles up on stage, performing in the biggest arena in Asia in head-to-toe Harris Reed. Watching the videos and seeing 138,000 people screaming and crying, and then having my Instagram slide with these amazing messages… That was probably the moment where I was like “Stop, okay I’ve made it, here we go.” But that goes hand in hand with the time when Alessandro Michele asked me to walk the Gucci fashion show. I remember as I walked pass, A$AP Rocky yelled “Yo Harris!” and I just thought, this is the start of something huge.
DB: You’re still studying… What’s going to be the first thing you do after graduating?
HR: I’m honestly taking one thing at a time because as I have seen this last year, things can happen overnight. But once I graduate, my plan is to fully stay in London, have my own fluid brand, push for a more fluid tomorrow, push for the rights of the LGBTQIA community and be a really predominant member of the fashion and design community because I believe the message and the vision that I have is an important one to get across and to have out there in the world right now.
DB: How was your experience working with Alessandro Michele and Gucci?
I’m actually currently still apprenticing at Gucci right now until April, which has been one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life. After all the press with Harry Styles, here was all this pressure to have a show or do a presentation and I really didn’t want to. I wanted to grow and I really wanted to learn. So, I was delighted when Gucci offered me to apprentice there after seeing my work and walking the show. I’ve been learning from Alessandro from the days we spent together or when I would see him doing the show and just seeing how remarkable of a human he is. He is one of the pioneers for individuality, acceptance, diversity, love… To work there and see how it completely translates across everything has been absolutely extraordinary.
DB: Do you remember your first ever Instagram post?
I’m pretty sure it’s a photo of me and my Mom because at the end of the day she’s my biggest supporter.
DB: What’s the best part about what you do?
Being able to get across to so many people a worldwide a message. The garments I create, it’s 50% activism and 50% design. I love that I’m able to do work and to constantly speak my mind, and talk about gender and what’s going on in the world, to be really pioneering for a more accepting and diverse world.
DB: Can you tell me a bit about your process – what’s the first thing you do when you start working on a new project?
HR: My process has always just kind of remained the same. I came out at 9 years old with who I was and my gender has since been changing and evolving to who I am today. I was living in Arizona at the time and I had no friends. I was quite isolated and I just made up all of these imaginary fictional characters in my head and they were my friends, a lot of them where these kind of aloof, fluid, 18th Century beings, and I would just run around the house and turn curtains, different bedsheets, drape materials over myself and I created a whole world. I think today my process still stems from creating this fictional character, an aristocratic, romantic, 18th Century aloof being, and having and creating a whole narrative around that person. I could probably write a screenplay for each piece.
HR: With all of my work, I hope to bring something that’s happening in the LGBTQIA community in that moment. Whether it’s the things that are happening in Chechnya, within America, in the military… I then start researching and that takes me to the library.
DB: When you’re not working – how do you decompress?
HR: That is a great question. I like to go see my family, when I have the chance, but it’s so split up – my dad lives in Los Angeles, my mum is living now between Italy and Los Angeles, my Aunt lives in Eastbourne, near Brighton – so I think, probably my ideal is going down to the seaside and being with family and playing with my little cousin. But it’s something I haven’t done in a while so I need to.
DB: When you design – do you imagine it as menswear or womenswear? Or does it even really matter?
HR: I’m designing always for a being, not a gender, or any gender norms. Obviously, I’m aware people have different body shapes. I know that someone as incredible and as beautiful as Solange, she has a different body shape than someone like Harry Styles, but you would just tailor the piece to the being, end of story.
DB: Which piece is your favourite one from the MATCHESFASHION.COM capsule?
HR: The pink sequin dress, which I know is around 3300 Euros, but that is because there was two people with hand sewing needles, and two spools of threads. My best friend came in from Paris and we hand-sewed it together night after night after night together so I think those memories were just incredible.
Harris Reed’s capsule collection is available to shop with Matches Fashion, online and in their 5 Carlos Place townhouse.