Harper the Label employs soft, easy silhouettes we associate with quality but also someone who is environmentally conscious. Unique, slouchy, functional and outdoorsy designs punctuate the collection as if sprung from the earth. This look speaks of the painstaking efforts that happen behind the manufacturing process to ensure each bag is of complete integrity. Ethically sewn in the US, dyed with leaves, bark and seed pods, nature inspires and underpins these accessories.
And, with a new bag on its way, this is the perfect time to be discovering Harper the Label. Founded in Autumn 2020 by Claire Harper this is an intentional accessories brand that works in gender-neutral chrome-free and carbon-offset quality leather. Partnering with Terrapass for the carbon off-setting, the brand supports a wide range of forestry projects and sustainable energy across the globe. Meanwhile going chrome-free removes human and environmental health risks that are implied by the majority of leather today produced using toxic chemicals, namely chromium. Harper the Label takes up a slower production method, and calendar of releases, which aligns them with slow fashion movements and higher environmental standards. Because if you’re inspired by nature, you’ve got to work alongside her.
Speaking on the newest bag she is releasing, Claire Harper tells us, “The Offset Sling Bag is my re-envisioning of the ubiquitous belt bag style that everyone has been wearing for several years. As with all of my designs, I like to think outside of the box: instead of looking at what other designers have done with a similar style of bag, I start by looking at other design disciplines, especially ceramics, architecture, or garments.
This bag has been bouncing around my brain for the past two years at least. A theme in my leather work is applying knots, folds, and pleats in unexpected ways. For this design, I wanted to capture the way that fabric behaves when it is cut on the bias, which makes it stretch and curve around the body in a special way. You more commonly find this type of technique in couture apparel, never in leather – leather is a fibre and not a woven fabric, there isn’t actually a bias to use.
More practically, I was bored with the styling on every other belt bag I saw out there. With a few exceptions, they’re mostly casual and athletic, with chunky hardware like plastic buckles and big zippers. I wanted to create a bag that you could just as easily wear during the day with your toddler and then out to a special date at night.
I don’t have a firm launch for the sling bag yet, but it should be available for preorder starting in the next month or so!"
The founder has an extensive background in Art History and she draws on architecture and art to inspire her design. Discussing the architecture that gets her creative juices flowing, Claire Harper explains, “It probably won’t come as any surprise, but I am drawn to biophilic architectural designs. I love spaces that blur the line between inside and outside – California designers do this particularly well, and I’ve long been a fan of the work of San Francisco architect Mason St. Peter, or the Eames House down in Los Angeles. In any design medium, I love when an artist can elevate a humble, simple material, whether that is clay, cotton, or leather. It takes so much more talent to strip away than to layer more on.” This well thought through, minimalist approach shines through in Harper the Label’s designs that are very much no frills. She couldn’t find a bag that met her standards, so she decided to design her own.
Inspired by the need to respond to the climate crisis and her upbringing with a naturalist father, Claire Harper truly cares about the environment and producing sensitively. Having worked in the fashion industry for many years her disgust at greenwashing became too much and she had to take matters into her own hands. “Making some small mark through my design practice is my life’s work” she admits. It’s been said one, and it’s going to be said again: if you’re inspired by nature, you’ve got to work alongside her. “Nature is a constant companion in my art practice and creative process” elucidates Claire Harper who has always found the natural world a perfect commune for inspiration. “Even when I lived in New York years ago, I was always drawn to the wild, strange outdoors you could find in the city, whether it was the untamed marshes in the Rockaways, hidden gardens in Manhattan, or the murky byways in Red Hook.” Now based in Northern California, Claire says of the landscape “I've never lived in a place that is as wildly, terrifyingly, unapologetically alive… and I think [it] gives a different flavour to the work I put out into the world.” Full of life and wildness Harper the Label surely pays testament to the creativity nature can inspire.
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