2016 FEATURED: BLK 26 - RM Williams

19 January 2017

This story first appeared in BLack Magazine issue 26, although the shoot attached here is entirely new:

Photographer, fashion, hair and make-up : David K. Shields

Models : Kaitlyn Gallagher @ IMG Sydney, Julian Weigl @ KULT Australia

 

Intro and interview; Zeenat Wilkinson

 

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Jeremy Hershan first emerged in the men’s fashion scene in 2009 when he was

appointed as an assistant menswear designer at Savile Row’s Gieves & Hawkes.

Since then, the designer has become renowned for his aesthetics towards fine

Born into a family of migrant European tailors, dressmakers, and milliners,

Jeremy’s passion for clothing formalised with his training at RMIT University in

Melbourne. He then moved to Paris to complete an apprenticeship with Kris Van

Assche, Artistic Director of Dior Homme. This was followed by a four-year tenure

at Alfred Dunhill where Jeremy added a new energy and modernity to the

formalwear offer of Dunhill luxury maison. And now, he is the newly appointed

Head of Design at R.M. Williams.

Looking back at his connection with R.M.Williams, Jeremy says, “My boots have

taken me everywhere. I’ve always been a customer and admirer of the brand, but

my career to date has been focused in the UK and Europe. This role actually

brought me back.”

For Jeremy, his first collection as Head of Design was all about going back to the

heart of the brand’s DNA—heritage and craftsmanship. He looked at the

photograph of Max Dupain, who truly captured the masculine entrepreneurial

characters right from the 30s to the 70s, setting as a reference for Jeremy’s designs.

 

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Zeenat: Which facets of fashion and design do you love the most?

Jeremy: The transformative power of clothing and the ability to build a world around

Z: How did your apprenticeships in Paris help shape you as a designer?

J: Being a young Australian apprentice in a French speaking house was

definitely character building. I was fortunate to spend a year shadowing Kris

Van Assche (Creative Director of Dior Homme) and his team, playing a part in

the creative process from concept to runway. It definitely helped shape my

identity as a designer and instilled in me a sense of rigour and a desire to always

remain true to my vision.

Zeenat: What sort of impact would you like to generate through your work?

Jeremy: To create honest, well-crafted product with timeless appeal. There is so much

that is disposable in this day and age, and it is incredibly important to me to

create high-quality, well-considered pieces that people want to hold on to and

ideally hand on to their children.

Z: What is the most important lesson you have learned about the fashion

business?

J: Your first ideas are often the best, and there are often many distractions along

the way, so it is important that while letting ideas breathe and evolve, you stay

true to your course.

Z: What was the first thing you did when you were appointed as Head of Design

at R.M.Williams?

J:. The first thing I did when I joined the brand was head to the workshop in

Adelaide to spend time with our master craftsmen and women. From there, I

took a 4WD up to the Flinders Ranges to the birthplace of the brand. I camped

out, took in spiritual and geological trails, and covered a lot of lonesome

highways. I drank in the colours, the light, the smells, and the unique landscape.

I also spent time in the archive above our historic flagship store at Percy Street

in Adelaide, digging through the dust to find information and details to breathe

new life into.

Z: What aspect of designing at R.M. Williams is most important to you?

J: Ensuring there is a certain quality in everything we do. The boots have always

stood for a high level of craftsmanship, so for me, it is important we take this

approach with every other product we design and develop. A lot of attention is

paid to materials. I have looked to Australian yarn suppliers where the yarn is

traceable to the flock and introduced several heritage mills from the UK, USA,

and Italy to create timeless pieces with provenance.

Z:. How do you compare the way in which (Australian heritage brands such as)

R.M. Williams operate to the fashion houses in Europe?

J: R.M. Williams is a grassroots company, and we still have grit under our nails.

Our boots are made by hand; the same way they were more than 80 years ago.

We also have people in the business who have been part of the brand for more

than 40 years. There is a tremendous history and an incredible amount of respect

for this among the employees. In this sense, we share a similar approach to many

of the great fashion houses of the world that also have a rich history and a desire

to preserve this.

Z: Who is the most inspiring person in fashion (or business of fashion) today and

why?

J: I am fortunate to have had some great mentors over the years, including

Veronique Branquinho, Kris Van Assche, and most recently, working under John

Ray at Alfred Dunhill, which was a great privilege.

Z: What is new at R.M. Williams for next season?

J: A story around the round toe work boot handcrafted in Adelaide from a

beautiful waxed roughout leather sourced in Italy. There is a strong focus on

outerwear with a new line of Drover-inspired oilskin coats crafted from British

dry waxed cotton. I am also pretty excited about our heritage-inspired Rider

jacket and five-pocket trousers made from 18oz moleskin, woven by a military

contractor in Victoria. It is a truly amazing cloth and supposedly snake-bite proof!

 

NOTE!

 

This Collection AW 17 can be purchased now in Auckland at the RM WILLIAMS pop up store in Ponsonby Central Shop 4D, 136 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby, Auckland

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