UNIFORM | Hart Hagerty's China Collection 中国

Meet Hart Hagerty, a Charleston-born designer currently living in China. Hart has an incredible story (and name), and I truly believe she is doing something no one else is. I have so much to say about Hart and her line that I fear this might get a little lengthy, so bear with me. The just-the-facts-ma'am synopsis is that Hart is a fashion writer living in Shanghai and has just launched a label that produces one capsule of jackets per year. Each year a new traditional artisan community will be celebrated in her designs from around the world. Her first collection is the 2013 China capsule which features vintage Miao embroidery on two jackets and one vest. 
So although next year Hagerty will move on from China to Laos (jackets coming at the end of July!), she is proving quite soundly that not all things manufactured in China are cheap and made by exploited labor. Last month Hart was visiting Los Angeles and I was so taken by her energy and passion for the fashion industry in China. She sees the good where a lot of people see the bad.  Hart fell in love with traditional Miao embroidery and set out to make some jackets the right way, the old way.
"The sad truth is, the majority of fast fashion—and much of luxury fashion too!—are made by workers in questionable conditions all over Southeast Asia. I am not exonerating China from any manufacturing misdeeds, but I also believe that it is the scapegoat for the way the fashion industry is today. The fashion industry as a whole is one of the biggest polluters in the world and takes advantage of desperate people in developing nations. But when criticizing the fashion industry, many people continue to point the finger mostly at China, and less at the brands themselves or other manufacturing regions." 

It's an apt point, it takes two to tango. Hart also mentioned that she missed the clean air. To be clear: she was referencing the air of Los Angeles. Yikes. China gets bashed a lot, but thanks to Hart, we can see that it's not all just polluted factories meeting the bottom line of big companies. There's also artisan craft and responsible manufacturing. China has a long heritage of beautifully made things such as porcelain, lacquer, woodwork, furniture, books, embroidery—which Hart so ingeniously honors and celebrates with her first collection. Does this mean a resurrection in China’s cultural craft heritage? Hart thinks there is a small but definite movement brewing, including the Hermes-owned line Shang Xia, which makes luxurious, updated modern homeware made by skilled artisans using China’s legendary techniques.
Like many of the brands that I try and promote on this blog, Hart Hagerty is helping to push that giant and heavy pendulum back from disposable fast fashion to artisan manufactured quality goods. Her jackets harken back to the era when luxury was conveyed by its maker's passion rather than a shiny out-facing label. Not only are the Hart jackets and vest totally wearable and can traverse seasons, but they're also, in my opinion, absolute works of art. Hart, we'll be looking forward to your next capsule. In the mean time, keep it up, you're doing something really great.  Check out more about Hart and her designs on her website.

Keep up with Tomboy Style elsewhere: INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is cultural appropriation.

Lizzie said...

If you look at the history of fashion, it is almost entirely about cultural appropriation and celebration. From mandarin collars to beaded necklaces to turbans to gaucho pants, to tartan, it all comes from somewhere.

elliottwithlove said...

Very cool! I look forward to seeing more of Hagerty's collections!

Btw - the craftsmanship and details on the embroidery... stunning.

Nomadic D. said...

Amazing! Love the concept, love the execution. Sometimes it's so hard to incorporate traditional textiles into modern wearable pieces but I think she's done a wonderful job. Thanks for introducing us to her work!

www.nomadicd.com

Anonymous said...

Love this! After living in Bejing for a while, and seeing the arts and crafts there, it saddens me that, back here in the West, Chinese products are mainly represented by cheap electronics and sweat shop fashion, when we could have (and give back)so much more.... Imagine the West increasing trade in eco friendly, fair trade design that celebrate the collaboration of the West and Chinese... So inspired by Hagerty´s pioneering, and thanks Lizzie for writing about this! /Kristina

Anonymous said...

I think it's Miao, not Maio. The word sounds like a truncated version of the sound a cat makes.

"Hart fell in love with traditional Maio embroidery and set out to make some jackets the right way, the old way."

Lizzie said...

Thanks, made the fix on that typo. And thanks for the pronunciation tip, it's interesting to know how it sounds as well.

Anonymous said...

The embroidery is amazing! I also love the idea of promoting traditional crafts.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy this blog, and usually love the people's style, but to me, it looks like this person just plopped a beautiful embroidery on a crappy jacket and called themselves a designer. It feels like a dis-service to the amazing craftsmanship that went in to the embroidery.

Aya said...

I agree that a lot of fashion takes inspiration from various cultures, but these jackets just plop someone else's beautiful and tradition works onto a normal coat. She receives the praise and money for these works but is responsible for a minute part of the creativity and workmanship. I find this collection frustrating.

Anonymous said...

I am really disappointed that you boil it all down to 'cultural appropriation and celebration.' Clearly, not all cultures are being celebrated through appropriation. Many cultures do not want their cultural dress to be seen as fetish items. As I am a giant fan of your blog, I wish you would consider this issue more deeply.

Nurfitria Binte Zainal Aini said...

Love your blog but Hart just made a 'cultural craft heritage' fashion into a luxurious fashion which is ridiculous. You're contradicting because Hart is just like the majority of fast fashion out there.

Lizzie said...

Just wanted to chime in quickly to these recent comments. I always appreciate feedback and opinion especially when it challenges my point if view, so thank you for all the responses, they are all fair points.

I stand by my original response to cultural appropriation. Hart is not exploiting these artisans, they are creating their designs to sell (to anyone) so they can continue to support their way of life and follow their calling as craftsman. They want people to buy their crafts to keep their craft alive. Hart has worked with and gotten to know this community and has done her best to be thoughtful about how she presents their work on her designs. Hart isn't just swooping down and stealing textile designs, ripping them off and then mass manufacturing their bastardized designs at H&M or Forever 21 in a way that the artisans make zero profit. She makes teeny collections and works hard to do everything the right way, in hopes that she will be able to introduce Miao embroidery to more people.

This is a complicated issue for sure, and again I respect the dissenting views, but after meeting Hart and hearing how passionate and energized and respectful she was of Miao embroidery, I feel confident that she's being thoughtful and cares about all elements of the manufacturing process. That's simply my take though.

toko baju muslim murah said...


Your article is very interesting Beautifull photos and great blog to read thank you

Anonymous said...

Lizzie-
Manufacturing practices are not the same as cultural appropriation. I applaud HART for doing the right thing by the artisans she is working with. However, it does not change the fact that is she taking a culture's stories & customs and placing them in a totally different context and culture. From her website "Hart also repurposes silk belts with delicately stitched flowers, birds and butterflies. When a young woman is engaged to marry, she’ll make belts for herself and groom as signs of her devotion." It is a similar analogy as taking handmade American engagement rings, putting them on necklaces and selling them to citizens of Dubai. It all comes back to what you are comfortable with. I, for one, do not want to wear someone else's handmade wedding belt embroidered with signifiers I can not read.

Lizzie said...

I think that's a really fair point. It certainly comes down to personal preference and your comfort level. I think I'd feel much different about it if the Miao artisans didn't have a good relationship with Hart and were in support of her business and designs. That said, I can absolutely understand your discomfort with the situation and really appreciate your thoughtful feedback, it's provided a a challenging and interesting dialog.

Shachi Sharma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
muhammed waqar said...

Get Part time online jobs on Facebook, The best Social Media Website where you can share some fun and earn with us, Share some pictures on Facebook and earn on every pictures you post or share. Unlimited Facebook Wall Sharing and Unlimited Earning.
Earn with Making Facebook Ids, Make Unlimited Facebook Ids and Get 10$ on Every FB Id.
jobzcorner.com

waqas farooq said...

Lols and Gags, Lol Pictures, Lol Videos, Funny Pictures, Lol is the Laugh out of Laugh where you can Fun Unlimited and Laughing Unlimited. Visit the Best Lol Network Ever, where you can every thing is lol and Funny, Troll Images, Funny Vidoes, Prank Peoples, Funny Peoples, Prank Images, Fail Pictures, Epic Pictures, Epic Videos, Prank Videos, Fail Videos and Much More Fun and Entertainment
lolsgag.com

Website Designing Bangalore said...

Every consumers should ask the excellent colors, unique designs and attractive item for their websites to the web designers.So every web designers should have the ability for satisfy the customers.
Website Designing Bangalore

Manoj Kusshwaha said...

nice collection great style nice images but not lol