“Everyone wears clothes,” Harald Lunde Helgensen states plainly, “you cannot avoid it.”
It’s a simple enough acknowledgment of the world as we know it, but one that Harald, together with label partners Siv Støldal and Ida Falck Øien, assesses on a seasonal basis.
Producing HAiK – defined on their website as a project not a label, such is the focus on areas away from fashion per se – Harald, Siv and Falck work with artists, designers, writers and perhaps most significantly, anthropologists, the result of which is clothes made via a specific understanding of social meaning and context.
“I’m a fashion designer and Ida is a fine art student,” Harald tells Clash. “Developing this brand together, it kind of became created really quickly,”
As for the third member of their party: “Sib, she used to have a brand for ten years and then moved back to Norway and she carried on doing that label on her own. Back then I was still living here in London, Ida was in Norway. We were doing a project, kind of separately in Paris.”
The three now play equal parts in HAiK, which we should clarify, means hitchhiking in their mother tongue (Norwegian), hence acting almost as a nucleus for what the label (as it is sometimes described), does and intends to do: “All the projects that we do are for the creatives, different people and where they come from; we recreate the motif of the body around a specific theme.”
Since launching in 2011 HAiK has worked as such: the three pick a theme, then work under its guise for the following three seasons, conducting research via interviews, previewing collections through presentations, and travelling around with exhibitions.
The current theme for SS14 is about repairs, “keeping clothes, to make them last longer”, while the first one Harald says, “was really about going into wardrobes and how people mend and dye clothing.”
While the way they come to each conclusion is particularly distinct, their current theme isn’t far off today’s zeitgeist, with notable brands such as Levi’s and Nudie offering their own take on prolonging the wear of items too. For HAiK however, Harald informs us that, “instead of repairing the clothes, it’s about repairing the body; that’s the way we develop a style.”
HAiK is currently based in Norway – “the label is happier here” – but the fashion designer doesn’t underestimate the importance of global research, noting a particular trip to Chicago in which they attended several anthropology lectures.
“It’s trying to be international, because the project is about how people wear clothing. Being in the same area it’s really hard to ask the same questions, in the north of Norway and in London and in Los Angeles. It’s really important for us to branch out.”
The aforementioned website is their most accessible platform (though really it gives little away), international by default as it is. Instead it acts as a look book of collections past and present, with a number of characteristically notable videos mixed in amongst the clothing.
Top tip, scroll down to meet James.
Words: Zoe Whitfield