An Interview With Designer Heike Jarick: Edgy, Sophisticated, Luxurious in a Daunting Economy. Her Upcoming Sample Sale.
German born designer Heike Jarick’s world travels shine vividly through her clothing. Her pieces are bold and original, thanks to her keen eye for luxurious and rare fabrics. Aside from her sensual dresses, edgy, draping clothing, and sculptural coats, Jarick’s utilization of imaginative material, such as the skin from a stingray, make for one of a kind accessories that are sure to wow shoppers come fall. The Stylish City has their eye on Heike Jarick and would like to introduce the designer to all of our readers, just in time for her mid-summer Heikejarick Collection Sample Sale, where she’s offering 30% off past season designs as well as pieces from her upcoming fall collection.
The Stylish City: Describe the moment that you knew you wanted to get into fashion.
Heike Jarick: I was seventeen years old and I was thinking, “What am I going to do with my life?” My parents pushed me a little bit into academia and becoming a teacher, but I had decided then and there that I was going to be a fashion designer. It took me a little time to convince my parents to be supportive of that. I basically started studying in Hamburg, Germany and then moved on to England and studied at Middlesex Polytechnic where I did my Bachelor’s Degree. Then a journey around the world started.
TSC: How did traveling the world effect your designs?
HJ: It has always been a wonderful inspiration for me to travel. After my graduation I lived and worked in Italy for nine years. It was a wonderful experience because, unlike this country, you don’t become categorized. You work on menswear, accessories, eyeglasses, bathroom tiles; anything that the brand encompasses. It was a very broad and good experience.
TSC: What brought you to New York?
HJ: My journey then took me to New York where I worked in outerwear during the first three years of my stay. I started working a lot with coat oriented companies and then started doing a lot of sportswear. In the year 2000 I decided that I had enough experience to start my own business.
TSC: If I were to look back at your designs of outerwear and sportswear for other companies, would I be able to determine that they were your designs? Did you allow your personality to shine through?
HJ: Yes, definitely.
TSC: How do you think the fashion industry has changed from when you began working in it up until now? Do you feel social media has had a huge impact?
HJ: I would definitely say that social media has had an impact, but I think the most important impact has been the economy. In the late 80’s and 90’s there wasn’t a crises. You could sell fashion and high fashion; there was a market for everything. But now, the consumer is holding back, they don’t want to spend. A lot of stores are going out of business so you have to constantly change your vision in order to survive. You have to ask, “What can I do that’s desirable?” The market is completely over-saturated. Everyone wants to be a designer, even those who haven’t studied to be a designer. Everyone wants to have a line and wants to put something out into the market. A lot of it is a short flash and then they disappear. But there are obviously some people who are able to survive. It’s a pretty tough game right now.
TSC: You’re known for the variety of fabrics that you use in your designs. How does this impact you being able to go out there and purchase a rare and expensive fabric, are you restricted?
HJ: No, I’m going to continue doing that but instead of offering 45 or 50 styles per season, I’m going to only offer 25 styles. Keeping the quality, keeping the originality and the exotic skins and interesting embroideries, but making it a little bit more of a smaller selection.
TSC: You used to have a cost efficient casual line, what happened with that?
HJ: I did have a casual line but it was difficult to deal with the high quantities out of Asia. So what I do now is I will run a raincoat or, for example, I had a down coat program. It’s very, very competitive. There are a lot of people out there with much lower price points and if you can’t back up the quantities of a 300-piece minimum, then you might as well not do it. Right now, I’m concentrating my efforts on producing in New York, using mainly European and Japanese fabrics and catering to the stores that love the Heikejarick Collection and have a customer base for the collection.
TSC: How do you see your line growing? Do you envision your collections being sold in a smaller sense, such as in boutiques, or within the department store giants such as Saks Fifth Avenue?
HJ: That’s a very crucial question. I know people who have had to shut down their business because they sold to these big department stores. Why? Because they have to eat up the charge backs. Let’s say you put out $200,000 worth of merchandise, you have to wait three months to get paid and then you have to worry about the charge backs that can kill you. Of course I would like to sell at that level, but it would have to be something where I really feel that I won’t be going out of business because I’m selling to them.
TSC: A lot of designers hold their sample sales in May and early June so I love that your sale is in July, when we are actually in the middle of summer and shoppers are looking for clothing to wear. What can we expect to find at your sale?
HJ: I had a sale in April, but this is what we call a mid-summer sale where basically any leftover stock, any stores that went out of business or didn’t accept the merchandise, and all that happens, and all our samples will be sold. We have two racks with archival pieces, which are from several seasons back and they’re heavily discounted. We also have items from the spring collection where we have applied a 30% discount.
TSC: Do you have a favorite piece in the sale?
HJ: I have many favorite pieces. One of our absolute best sellers is The Frederique Top ($91, orig. $325, pictured) that we are also offering in solid colors. Also, The Kim Dress ($154, orig. $440, pictured) is a favorite. Another cute and interesting piece is The Louise Shirt Dress ($88, orig. $313, pictured), which can be work in the summer and fall with leggings.
TSC: What do you envision some of the Fall 2012 trends being?
HJ: For me, one of the major trends is mixing and matching fabrications such as leather with fur or fur with a spray painted, snakeskin skirt, also, sculptural coats and draping, slinky jersey pieces. Not to mention the accessories, which people love. I have, for example, a stingray belt with a color printed finish (pictured) and from the left over skin I created a necklace (pictured).
TSC: You mentioned that during your sale there will be fall merchandise that shoppers can browse as well as order. Can they purchase some fall pieces also?
HJ: Yes, we have samples and some pieces that we will offer at a discount, which will be a little bit more than wholesale price.
TSC: I love the look of the stingray skin on your accessories. How did you become inspired to use that in your designs?
HJ: A lot of my inspiration comes from the fabric, that’s how I always start. I happen to work with a guy who works with a lot of different and exotic fish skins. Everything is mostly an actually by-product.
TSC: What particular type of woman do you envision when designing your clothing?
HJ: A very sophisticated and elegant woman that is anywhere from her 20’s to her 60’s. We have a wide customer range; sometimes the daughter buys, sometimes the mother buys and sometimes the grandmother buys.
TSC: If you could describe the Heike Jarick line in three words, what would they be?
HJ: Edgy. Sophisticated. Luxurious.
Heike Jarick Sample Sale
WHEN: 7/16 – 7/20; M-F (10-6)
WHERE: 307 West 38th Street
New York, NY 10018
By Caitlin Colford
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