Grad Andrew Hanson's Clothing Brand Featured in California Apparel News
FIDM Grad Andrew Hanson was recently featured in California Apparel News for his artisan based clothing brand, Clothing That Speaks, officially launched in January of this year and featuring designs with mixed-media art such as patches, heat transfers, muslin cloth, and spray-painted prints. According to California Apparel News, he first found success in fashion in 2003 with his his brand at the time, Andrew Hanson’s F, placing styles at Hot Topic and doing commissions for musicians including Dhani Harrison, the son of Beatle George Harrison, Josh Homme of the rock band Queens of the Stone Age, country star Keith Urban, and Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Hanson knew in first grade that he wanted to be an artist, and when he was a student at Silverado High School in Las Vegas, Nevada, he knew he wanted to pursue fashion design. Hanson earned his his A.A. in Apparel Industry Management in 2018, and just graduated with his Bachelor of Science Degree in Apparel Technical Design. We caught up with the artist and designer to learn more about his creative journey.
Tell us a little about yourself: I am an artist and I enjoy spending my time in nature, as well as the big city. A lot of my time is spent studying history, people, and culture. I don’t take myself too seriously, but I do take my work pretty seriously. I would rather talk about concepts than gossip and celebrity drama. I frequent cafes and love pit bull puppies. Oh, and Nihon Daisuki.
When did you know you wanted to be a designer? It was back in high school when I started deconstructing/altering my old t-shirts, customizing denim, making bags and belts for myself. The music I was listening to at the time was a major source of inspiration. My fellow peers and students kept saying, “Hey, I want one!” so I said to myself, I’ll be a designer. When I was in first grade, though, I distinctly remember telling my mother I was going to be an artist when I grew up. Since fashion is art, it makes total sense to pursue this as a career path.
How would you describe your design aesthetic? Good question. I feel for the most part it is always evolving, but if I had to pin it down I would say, “this is the art” and “it’s what it becomes” meaning the clothing is the canvas. How I manipulate the fabric and how time affects it are both factors in my aesthetic. Esoteric right? I kid, but I sincerely mean that. A few methods I use to achieve my aesthetic are spray paint, appliqué, signature stitching, custom dye methods, and whatever else I can come up with to push the work in a new direction. Most of what I do is actually made by me, which is by choice. This is why I say, “this is the art.” By doing so, it makes the pieces extremely authentic. The garments made by me are akin to a high-end runway show that later gets put into production on a larger scale which I also have done.
How did you come up with the name of your brand, Clothing That Speaks? I remember hearing years ago, “Fashion is the oldest language,” or something to that effect. Since people usually make visual contact before vocal interaction, fashion and style is the first impression for better or for worse. In a large way the clothing we wear is communicating something. Style and fashion for me has always been about opening a dialogue, which is why the name seems natural to me. As a designer and artist, I love visual communication but even more, I live for the real conversation that style and fashion creates.
Who is your customer? Do I go with the marketing answer or the artsy whimsical answer? I’m half kidding, but when I set out to make something I don’t really think about target markets, gender or hard specifics. While there is most likely a clear set answer if you ask the marketing brains, I really just set out to make something I would like to see come alive. I am selling online right now via my website, clothingthatspeaks.com, and I am selling to people all around the U.S. as well as Japan and Canada. So far it’s an awesome mix of people from all walks of life, which is fantastic.
Where do you draw inspiration from? I feel my biggest inspiration has always been people and culture which is why film, documentaries and especially listening to music are a major part of my process. Growing up in Las Vegas, the majority of my friends’ parents immigrated from other countries and I am fairly certain this had a large impact on me. I feel everything has a spirit and if you can sit back and understand that spirit you can begin to interact with it authentically. While I also enjoy writing, I choose to put it all into the clothing. I guess what I am trying to say is I take these other art forms and inject the experience they give me into my fashion. Seeing my work up and moving on all different types of people is extremely humbling. The fact that people wake up and choose to wear what I make is not something I will ever take for granted especially in today’s world where there is so much access.
What do you love about design? The creative process itself, the transmutation of a thought into something real and tangible in the 3rd dimension is the greatest feeling in the world to me. The challenge of, “Can I make this real? Can this be done?” Ta-Da!
Why did you choose FIDM? The FIDM Los Angeles campus is in the heart of downtown where the garment district is, so it was a no-brainer. Ultimately, I chose FIDM because it made sense to learn about an industry I had no idea about other than knowing I wanted to be a part of it and I love LA.
Any advice for current FIDM Students? School is the easy part and it goes by so much faster than you might think. Make the most of everything the school offers especially the Library and all the online subscription services that come with going to FIDM. I am really going to miss sitting in the library and focusing on work/school; having those services so readily available is something I didn’t think about when I was working toward my A.A. If I can say it one more time—make the most of the time and everything that comes with going to FIDM; you won’t regret it.
What is your biggest goal right now? “Have creativity—will travel.” This means while I am going to continue to create and produce my artisan based clothing brand, I am making myself available to work with anyone who wants to hire me full/part time. Talking to Greg Lauren. I know/feel I would do well working with that team because of what they stand for as a company and the level of craftsmanship in the work created there. (And I know and love downtown L.A. very much.) While I am an artist, I am also a technical designer which means I want to pursue what I set out to learn/have learned over the past two years in the Bachelors program. I wear many hats proficiently, that means the total package, not just creative design. In addition, if I can secure a partner or investor that makes sense for my vision for Clothing That Speaks, I absolutely want to make that a reality. In the end, it is not about me, but the work/legacy I want to leave behind.
Anything else you’d like to share? Despite the past year (2020), I see a lot of opportunity in the world right now for positive change. Life comes in waves and a set is coming in and I am going to ride them with intention and passion. As I said above, I am open to working with anyone who has like-minded goals. While I do not consider myself a spokesperson for any one cause nor do I want to be, I do believe in leading by example, walking the walk, and slowing down the talk. Right now my goal is to listen because there is authentic power in listening and learning instead of waiting for your turn to speak. With so much chatter going on today I want to put everything I believe into my work which is why Clothing That Speaks is my answer.
Keep up with Andrew Hanson at clothingthatspeaks.com and on Instagram @clothing_that_speaks.