I am super excited to share today’s Talk Shop with you all!  Designer Duo and husband and wife Julie and Jason Alkire of HAUS ALKIRE are special around here for a few reasons.  (And I am not referring to their many accolaids from institutions like Vogue and the CFDA.)  For starters, Julie and I are from the same small town – Corsicana, Tx.  When I was in college, I got the itch to move to New York City and Julie so kindly offered me an “internship” to spend the summer before my senior year working for them.  I am confident that getting this experience and insight about the industry on my resume was what helped me land a coveted spot in Neiman Marcus’ Executive Development Program post college.  They have also been dear friends and mentors to me in work and in life.  Having friends from home was so crucial to living and starting our family in New York City.

I’m also excited that Julie and Jason will be in Houston this week! If you’re in town, swing by FOUND on Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. to meet them in person. I’ll be there hosting! Address and details below. 🙂

In the words of Vogue, “The Alkires are poised for greater mass success in the fashion business”.  Having already won the Fashion Group International Rising Star Award in 2015, the Ecco Domani Award in 2013, and been selected to the CFDA Fashion Incubator 2016-2018. I’d say they are already well on their way!  Read more about how this Texas couple transitioned from the University of Houston to “the next wave of American Designers”.

The two of you combined your talents in 2012 to launch Haus Alkire in Tribeca, New York. Julie had her own line for over a decade, and Jason had experience in advertising, photography and painting. You had both worked at SPOON magazine. Had the two of you always dreamed about merging your talents to create something together? What was the initial inspiration for your first collection?

J&J: Yes, we always felt that the ideal scenario would be to create a brand together that encompassed both of our artistic and technical backgrounds. Our first collection was inspired by Luo Jie paintings and Elsa Martinelli’s portrayal of Belle Star in 1968. The first collection explored contradictions in masculine and feminine, and good and evil. 

Julie initially launched Julie Haus as and handbag and contemporary clothing line.  What made you transition to designer and rebrand as Haus Alkire?

J&J: We shifted course and launched Haus Alkire to create an intimate experience and offer customization for our consumer. We wanted to design with materials and techniques that truly combined both our creative backgrounds without limitations.

Julie, you learned how to sew and construct a garment at the age of thirteen under your grandmother who was a dressmaker in Texas. Did you always dream of moving to New York to launch a fashion line? How does that special experience continue to affect your collections and design process today?

Julie: When I was younger, I dreamed of New York or Paris, but I wasn’t sure my career would be in fashion. Staying with my grandmother in the summers gave me something to look forward to, and the creative time I had with her taught me to be patient, care about the details, and to not give up when things weren’t coming out perfect on the first try.

The two of you met in college at the University of Houston. How do you think your Texas roots have influenced your careers as fashion designers?

J&J: Our Texas roots have kept us grounded and have given us an openness with our peers about the challenges we face in the industry.

You launched your line in New York where most renowned designers are based. How do you distinguish yourselves from other designers? What are the pros / cons of being based in New York City?

J&J: We’ve been told that our work is organic and meticulously detailed. We build out our collections by incorporating sculpted hand-draped shapes with custom artful prints and textures.

There is no other city in the world like New York. It is full of life at every turn, and the energy and grittiness inspire us on a daily basis. But, it can also be a lot to take in when you live there full time. We’ve found ways to escape, whether it be running and cycling by the water in the mornings, or spending time in the Catskills and Texas, of course.

Tell us a little about the initial process for designing a new collection. Where do you typically find inspiration? How many people are on your team who help you create the  collection from start to finish?

J&J: We start with a feeling or story that can come from travel, film, books, photography. Then, we do color studies by looking at art to see what tones grab us that season. Several hands touch the collection before it makes it to the look book stage. Design wise, Jason and myself are the only designers. Then, we work with a pattern maker, sewers, and an assistant who helps with hand work, and finishing details.

You were named to the 2016-2018 CFDA Fashion Incubator and were granted the Made in NY mark of distinction. How have these achievements helped your brand awareness and growth? Have you had any starstruck moments where someone you admire has worn your designs?

J&J: The awards and programs that we’ve had the opportunity to be involved in have given us a much larger platform to share our work. We’ve been able to form partnerships and work on projects that wouldn’t have been possible without them.

Now that you have established your brand, what is next for Haus Alkire? Are there any major focuses in terms of growth and goals?

J&J: We are launching a home collection in 2019, and traveling more for pop-up shop in shops.

Describe the Haus Alkire woman in a few words:

J&J: She’s a bit of a modern eccentric – unrestrained, confident, adventurous.

We are excited that you are in Houston this week for a trunk show! It seems like there are often misconceptions about Houston, especially for people who have never visited and are from other large cities in the U.S., like New York. What are your thoughts on Houston and how it has changed over the years, specifically in terms of culture and fashion?

J&J: Houston has evolved culturally by leaps and bounds since we left fifteen years ago. It’s a very welcoming and supportive community. The fashion and arts scene is incredible and vast. The fashion consumer is connected, and experimental thanks to the access to some of the worlds best retailers, and designers who visit the city often to connect with them.

The two of you are partners in marriage and in your company. How do you find a balance between your work relationship and personal one?

J&J: We have never thought of work as “work”, so it all blends together most of the time. But, we have learned to balance life and business – we enjoy cooking and exploring the city, and we have breakfast and dinner together pretty much every day.

What does your perfect New York City day look like? 

J&J: We just moved in to a new condo in Tribeca that we love, so we start our day with breakfast and coffee at home, then we exercise (I run, Jason cycles). It would be a mild summer day, (because winters are brutal) and we would venture out to find a new lunch spot where we can sit outside like El Luchador in South Seaport, or Yves in Tribeca. We like to walk and find new shops and galleries in the afternoon before ending at La Esquina outside (they have the best mezcal margaritas and people watching in the city). Then, we end our evening with a night cap at the bar at Forlini’s – it’s old Italian restaurant with a 70’s-esque bar and bartenders that have been there twenty years.

How do you balance your personalities and talents when working together on Haus Alkire?  Jason, your photographer plays a big part in the prints each season.  Can you tell us a little bit about your process?

Jason: We’ve been working together on projects for almost 20 years now, so we seem to have a rhythm and complimentary process down. Each one of us gives and gets from the other – so the final creative direction is a true collaboration.

When I shoot for our textile prints, it’s a lot like shooting for a publication. There is usually an overall inspiration that guides me – for example the Spring 2018 floral print is from and inspiration trip to Verbier, Switzerland. I dried and pressed flowers from different elevations in the Alps. I even shot over 100 edelweiss buds rotating them several times each to create dimensional depth for one print.

From a technology standpoint I learned early on about digital format and digital printing. And, knowing how things are printed in the fine art world really helped me understand how they should be printed on textiles. There is a proper high-end process and very few designers use it.

Fall Fashion Trend You Are Most Excited About:

J&J: Metallic, and double-breasted blazers.

Your Personalities in 3 Words:

Julie: Emotional, Persistent, Optimistic

Jason: Inquisitive, Convergent, Realistic

Who is the best “intern” you ever had?! 😉

Julie: Do you have to ask…You of course!

Jason: Some bright-eyed charming girl from Texas named Caroline.

HAUS ALKIRE is sold through luxury boutiques and their studios on Leonard Street and in the garment center.

Come join us for some bubbly, meet the designers and preview their collection Thursday evening from 4pm-6pm at my favorite home store, FOUND!  We look forward to seeing you there! xo