New Girls On The Block: Harman Grubisa

These days it’s a less than frequent occurrence that an emerging fashion label, no matter how special or significant, is able to open or sees the value in a physical store, so with the opening of a ‘bricks and mortar’ by Harman Grubisa (Madeleine Harman and Jessica Grubisa) we went behind the scenes to talk shop with the new girls on the block…

A flagship store is a great achievement for a fledgling brand; can you share why it was important to you to open your own space?
Because we create a premium product here in New Zealand, it made sense to create a home for it – somewhere our clients can come and experience the brand firsthand. We’ve received an amazing response to our first two seasons, and that gave us the courage to embark on this project.

How do you view the relationship between fashion and interiors?
We love interiors. Harman Grubiša is as much about fashion as it is about encouraging a beautiful lifestyle. We’ve shot all of our previous campaign imagery in well-designed, architectural spaces – at times in our clients’ homes!

What was your inspiration behind the design for the store?
Our vision for the space was a beautifully curated wardrobe where everything had its place. Somewhere no woman would ever want to leave!

How did you go about translating this into a real life space? Did you work with anyone else to translate your vision?
Boys, boys, boys! It felt like a thousand people were on-site on any given day. Our offices are above the shop space, so we were literally at the heart of the project as it all unfolded. We worked with Richie Pearce, the director at Fabricate, to adapt a store concept that we created early last year. He basically translated a mobile store we had dreamed up and adapted it to fit the retail space. The real hero on the day was our project manager, Matt Dolan – he was actually our painter! One evening when we were knee deep in jib-stopping, sampling new season, picking marble samples – it all got too much and we somehow coaxed Matt into taking the project on, he knew every guy for every job and it was amazing.

Did you have a strong colour palette in mind when you began the process?
The building exterior was very dark and industrial when we first saw it. We worked with Resene to create a palette that was bright and neutral to transform it. We love the colours’ names – Truffle, Double Black White and Half Rice Cake. Transforming the exterior (as it had stood the same for the last 12 years) was just as important as the interior for us. Inside was vastly determined by our brand colours – cool grey, midnight blue and a touch of rose gold. Feminine and beautiful.

We love the subtle mix of materials, was this something you had in mind from the start, or was it introduced through the design process?
We defined the mix of materials early on in the design process, but limitations cropped up along the way & new accents were introduced. In our experience, limitations often push you into a better direction, and this project was no exception. We wanted the space to be classic and sophisticated so we introduced furnishing that spoke to that – the central Ligne Roset ottoman was one of the last pieces of the puzzle and brought all the elements together beautifully. You would think that soft furnishing would come easily to us but it was actually so tricky to make a decision. Many a trip to the Domo showroom and far too many beautiful things.

What’s on your in-store playlist?
Rosin Murphy, The Weekend, Matthew Young, Miguel…

Any secret details to share about the store?
The building is extremely old. Our landlord moved here from India in the 1900’s and their family grew up there. When we first started with it the floors and ceilings were a little skew-whiff – but it’s a well-loved space and it feels like it.

Can you give us any insider tips for next season?
Next season has an easy resort feeling to it. Soft linens, crisp whites, the odd stripe. It’s about those one-off pieces that your can pair back with simple accessories and still feel well put together.

Alice Lines, Undone Girl

Photos by James K Lowe

Special thanks to homestyle magazine

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