Fashion

Riotous Shirting - PALMER//HARDING

Launched in 2012 by Central Saint Martins trained Levi Palmer (Texas) and Matthew Harding (UK), Palmer//Harding started as a designer brand specializing in the shirt. Innovative tailoring and dramatic silhouettes define each collection, as does the focus on easy-to-wear fabrics and a refined color palette.
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PALMER//HARDING AW19

Through their directional designs and unconventional  pattern cutting the duo’s ever evolving collections have become synonymous with directional shirting while also offering a full wardrobe to complement the modern sensibilities of women who dress to achieve their passions.

The idea was born from a first-year shirting project at St Martins. Palmer, who had taken menswear pattern-cutting course in Dallas, produced six perfectly formed shirts against every other student’s poorly constructed one, prompting orders from tutors and classmates. Harding had attracted keen interest from his final collection. Having creating a capsule collection for Topshop, he was asked to apply for prestigious Andam award. The two decided to use the shirting idea as a base for their entry, later successfully pitching it to the BFC’s NewGen scheme and securing sponsorship for their first season in 2012. Five years later, in 2017, Palmer//Harding won the BFC/Vogue Fashion Fund prize.

Over the years, the label has weathered tricky periods, and it’s been a long time developing to where the brand is now. Their perseverance has served them well, and two boys who’ve reinvented the humble shirt are now riding high.

Designer duo Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding have been described many times as “the worlds most perfect shirt makers”. As designers they explore the ideas of freedom, duality and contradictions and feminine strength, by reinventing the classic wardrobe essential piece. Palmer//Harding looks in all sorts of places for inspiration; from contemporary and modern art, to music and film. They are both huge fans of the late 70’s and early 80’s and often reference these decades when designing.

Interesting clothes for interesting people - the collections focuses on entry designer priced shirts and shirt-dresses while offering a variety of wardrobe options through supporting categories including trousers, skirts, tailoring, outerwear and knitwear.

Palmer//Harding photo Damien Foxe

“In terms of makers, we have had an amazing response from the Arab market as the women there really appreciate style and fashion, and also our cotton fabrics are perfect for the hot temperatures. The UK and the USA are also quite important for us. In terms of retailer support The AlTayer Group have been very supportive and we have sold to Bloomingdales Kuwait and Dubai for many years now,” Palmer told me.

For AW19, Palmer//Harding continue to explore the idea of balance – in their designs, their business, their personal lives and the powerful heroines that inform the brands narrative. AW19 is seen through the lens of transformation. Moving effortlessly from one thing to another and perhaps back again, an emphasis is on finding harmony between two extremes.

“Finding balance is about the threshold between two opposing influences. In design it can be the mix between soft and hard, or fluid and structured, masculine and feminine. In life it is about balancing work and personal time. We believe that in order to achieve the best (in life or in fashion) that it required balance and this is why it is something we constantly search for in our design process,” Palmer explains. 

“The Palmer//Harding woman is a power woman, wishes in control of her own agenda and carves her own path in life. Whether this is in her career, social pursuits or personal interest, she owns her destiny and this is what makes her admirable. Some of the amazing women we dress are politicians, architects, doctors, lawyers, artist, musicians and philanthropist.” 

Cotton has always been a staple of Palmer//Harding. “Working with mostly shirts and shirt dresses lends itself to this fabric. Also its a wonderful fabric to live in as it works in almost any weather condition,” Palmer says.

Natalie Kingman, buying director at MatchesFashion.com speaks enthusiastically about the boys: “We are big fans of Levi and Matthew and feel they have really found their stride, with a strong brand identity that is evolving with their customer every season. They have identified their customer and have built up a strong loyal following of clients. We also have lots of fans internally at matchesafashion.com, many of us are wearing the collection and everyone is keen for the new season pieces to arrive so that they can invest! Our clients are now building up their own collection of Palmer//Harding shirts and adding to them each season and as the collection expands to offer trousers and outwear they can build a capsule wardrobe around them. The collection is effortless and stylish and appeals to all ages.”

“The shirt boys” have recently added a capsule collection of menswear with Matchesfashion.com that is made of several statement shirts. “Its our second season doing this and we are opening the capsule up to more retailers this season.”

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