Charlotte Wales

It’s difficult to bluntly categorize Heron Preston as a fashion designer, given that his elastic output to date has straddled the fragile juncture of contemporary art and fashion.

However, Preston recently gave his most formal fashion presentation to date, finally unveiling a menswear collection at Paris Men’s Fashion Week for FW17. So, it looks like Preston is acknowledging his position as one of the fashion industry’s most exciting young tastemakers.

Of course, Preston didn’t just start at the top. He has worked his way up from a NYC nightlife fixture and DJ, to a marketing specialist and social media director at Nike, and as an art director for Kanye West.

Charlotte Wale

While working for Kanye, he designed everything from tour merchandise to invites for Yeezy fashion shows. It was a pretty unrewarding gig for which he literally stayed up all night, forcing 800 jackets into sandwich bags.

In this new interview with W Magazine, Preston also reflects on past projects like creating bootleg Nascar T-shirts and being an artist-in-residence at NYC’s Department of Sanitation (DSNY) where he created an environmentally-conscious collection shown at New York Men’s Fashion Week which raised a money for a good cause.

On his collection with DSNY:

“The collection sold out,” says Preston. “And with some of the money raised, we created the Foundation for New York’s Strongest”—a nod to the department’s nickname—“which will continue to educate people on environmental issues, push the 0x30 initiative, and eventually help the DSNY open a museum.”

Perhaps unwittingly (but we think not,) Preston also finds himself pioneering a nu-normcore-inspired workwear trend in fashion. Almost of all his collections or projects to date have offered a deep admiration of the uniform, from hi-vis holdalls to redesigned trash collector threads. It’s all unsurprising considering Preston is the son of a police offer.

Preston’s latest interview does leave you wondering why the polymathic designer is only now garnering mass industry attention, especially when he’s long flexed his creative credentials within NYC’s downtown party circuit. After graduating from Parsons School of design, he started a blog documenting NYC’s colorful creativity and connected with the likes Virgil Abloh, whom he has long called a friend and collaborator.

Charlotte Wales

On his friendship with Virgil and his foray into fashion

“After the success of the DSNY project, Abloh encouraged me to take things up a notch. He was like, ‘Dude, you have to merchandise it out—have socks, shirts, sweats; a full look, a full collection.’ I had never thought like that.”

Read the full feature with Heron Preston at W Magazine.

For more fashion news, find out how you can get Virgil Abloh’s Paris Fashion Week look for less.

Words by Kam Dhillon