Fashion’s new favorite polymath, Heron Preston, has enjoyed an unlikely rise. He’s managed to merge, twist and swipe between distinct creative practices with the track-pad conviction that only comes with being a multi-hyphenate millennial.
Preston has worked at Nike, assisted Kanye, co-founded Been Trill with Virgil Abloh and Matthew Williams, become a firm nightlife fixture in downtown NYC, exhibited work at galleries around the world, dropped his own bootleg NASCAR T-shirts and perhaps most notably, he was a artist-in-residence at NYC’s Department of Sanitation (DSNY).
That’s where he produced an environmentally conscious fashion collection in order to promote decreasing NYC’s contribution to landfills and he went on to present the collection at NYFW.
Since then, Preston has formalized his fashion output and established an eponymous label which he debuted at Paris Fashion Week Men’s last season, but not without bluntly resisting categorization along the way and indulging projects like making a fashion nature film with the National Audubon Society.
Preston’s creative output has been artistically and conceptually elastic, to say the very least and that’s not about to change.
Preston is defying fashion convention once more with a global pop-up retail tour that’s landing in Tokyo, Milan, Seoul, New York, Paris, London, and Moscow, complete with art installations and DJ sets from Preston’s coterie of DJ friends and producers with his DSNY collection in tow.
Highsnobiety caught up with Preston at Selfridges, London for a quick chat on his “For You, The World” tour to talk workwear, environmentalism, Dapper Dan, IKEA and more. Selfridges exclusively hosted Preston’s “For You, The World” with a one-day pop-up in London, and needless to say, the London-branded tour T-shirt has already sold out.
So, tell us more about the “For You, The World” tour?
I’m on a retail tour launching my latest collection. So, I kicked off in Moscow and London is the second city on the tour. Then, I’ll be doing a couple other cities after London. I’m here to launch the first part of my collection, which is the Department of Sanitation collaboration that I did and there’s also this tour t-shirt that I have on.
With the tour, I’m kind of taking on the idea of a rock show or rap show where there is always merchandise and everything. We really kind of took on that idea. Every city that is printed on the t-shirt is a scheduled stop on the tour, so we’re selling that today as well.
Let’s talk about the genesis of the new workwear-focused Heron Preston fashion brand. What drew you to workwear specifically?
I think just the idea of labor, blood, sweat, tears that just go into hard work. I identify with that in the work that I do as well. I’m just obsessed with work. That’s kind of how I got in touch with workwear and things are also made to last. The durability and the functionality of it and that’s what streetwear is to me.
When I walk around New York, there’s a shit load of construction everywhere, and I see Timberlands, I see canvas pants, and hoodies and everything and it’s dirty. I like shit that’s dirty. I’ve always believed that things look better when they’re a little beat up. That is streetwear to me and that’s what I like. I really love work wear.
You’ve previously collaborated with NYC’s Department of Sanitation (DSNY). Now, if you could work with another American government agency what would it be?
Sick. But now that the American government has opted out of the Paris Treaty and seems to be turning away from environmentalism, how will all that impact on your work?
I think it’ll ramp it up. I think it’ll ramp it up. I use my work to point my finger at things that I care about and that I think that are important, I think that people should know about. Yeah, no, I think it will totally just ramp it up.
Would you ever consider taking on a job at a historic fashion house?
Oh, hell yeah. For sure. For sure. I would definitely entertain that. If someone approached me, I would love to take on that challenge. Definitely.
So, what would be your dream house?
Aw, man. I don’t even know. I was kind of talking about that a little bit last night, you know, how some of the houses have totally changed and some haven’t. Gucci is out here doing what they’re doing and really connecting with culture, but then you have some houses like Hermès that just like, haven’t changed at all. When it comes to a house, I haven’t really gotten there yet. I’m down. I guess I’d have to wait to see who approaches me.
What’s been the best moment on the retail tour so far?
Just connecting with people. I think that’s the most special part about what I’m doing is observing the culture, being here, living and breathing and seeing people and meeting people and just connecting with the community in all of these cities. Something that I’ve really been passionate about in my life is just people.
I’m a people person, so I just love to connect with culture and just share. It’s all about sharing culture for me, and I think that is what made the Department of Sanitation project super special when I did my launch of it in New York back in September.
You know, it wasn’t just cool kids at the event, it wasn’t just models and influencers, it was also sanitation workers and government people. Just that whole mixture of the clash of cultures created a whole new path, a whole new road. Conversations too.
The best feedback that I received that I loved was really when people were telling me like, “Yo, I did not expect there to be like sanitation workers there.” I was like, “Fuck yeah!” That was the whole point of just bringing people together and just connecting with people. I think that’s the most special part of this retail tour is to really just connect the communities.
Having been dubbed the Dapper Dan for the Instagram generation, what’s your hot take on the Dapper Dan-inspired Gucci piece from the brand’s Cruise 2018 collection?
Man, yeah. I love that they recognized Dapper Dan and people were shouting him out. I used to work at Nike a couple years ago and his son contacted me and I really wanted to do this Air Force One project with him and I really wanted to incorporate Dapper Dan and the whole story of just Nike in New York.
It never happened, but I got to meet him through working at Nike and he’s one of the most influential people in my life. He definitely made an impact and paved the way for people like me and other kids who are just DIY, DIY culture. When I saw the Gucci stuff I was like, “Fuck yeah. Give Dapper Dan the props that he deserves ’cause he really paved the way for all of this.”
Yeah, it was awesome that [Gucci] really recognized him that he influenced their work. What was that [original Dapper Dan picture] from like the ’80s I think or something? I don’t know, it’s awesome.
Do you still keep in touch with the guys from Been Trill?
Yeah, they’re like my best friends. I talk to them every day.
How do you feel about Been Trill now looking back?
Dude. What Vetements is doing right now is what we were doing. I’m still so obsessed with the ideas that we came out with. We’re talking about even just releasing a book that’s like this big archive of all just all the visuals we ever did, all the text messages, all the ideas. Been Trill is still super influential in all of our lives still. We talk about it like every day.
What do you think of Vetements?
Man, I love Demna and Guram his brother. They’re really smart. If you actually sit down and talk to them, they’re very intellectual guys. I just love the risks that they take and what they just bring to the table. It’s almost like a “fuck you” attitude, “We’re not gonna follow rules. We’re gonna break rules, we’re gonna write the rules.” That’s also how I work. I love the brand and yeah, they’re awesome.
What do you think of Virgil’s Ikea bag?
It’s super tight. Super tight. I love the photo that’s circulating right now, with the one woman behind him, all confused like, “What the fuck is he doing?” But yeah, it’s super cool. I can’t wait to see how it all rolls out.
Now you’re all caught up with Heron Preston, take a look at everything that went down at OFF-WHITE’s latest show.
- Photography: Eva Al Desnudo / Highsnobiety.com
- Featured Image: Courtesy of Heron Preston