Pierre Hardy started his eponymous brand in 1999 after working for Dior and Hermés. Seventeen years later, he’s launched an e-commerce site, collaborated with brands such as Gap, Balenciaga and Nars and counts celebrities Rihanna, Bella Hadid and Chris Brown as fans.
Hardy sat down with Footwear News global news director Katie Abel at the 2016 FN Summit on Monday, and it’s clear that his range of experience in fashion has given him profound insights into the rapidly evolving industry.
Although he’s been known from the start for his strong graphic, architectural designs, Hardy says that his collections have adjusted over the years.
“Even knowing what your [brand] DNA is, you have to grow up — otherwise, it’s useless,” he said. “I started with a very short and focused collection, but the second one opened doors. The first step is always something selfish — more intimate in a way — and the second has to be for the public.”
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Hardy also noted that even in his brand’s relatively young 17 years, he’s seen some major changes in the industry.
“I think what I did 15 years ago, I don’t know if it’s still possible for a young designer,” he said. “There was some space for independence — for originality. Now the system is so occupied by big names … by events that are so loud. It’s difficult to adjust — to exist.”
Despite the challenging landscape, Hardy’s advice for young designers is to “do it — still!”
The Paris-based designer also discussed the key differences between designing for men and women.
“I think the men’s market is more obsessive,” he said. “Guys stop me and say, ‘Oh, you don’t have this style in this color in size 42 in the shop.’ Women will buy the shoe in a different color, but men know exactly what they want. They find it and get used to it and want to buy it again and again.”
Click through the gallery to see Hardy’s latest collection for fall ’16.