Suzie Hamer pairs fashion expertise with a passion for prints

She’s good at the match game.

  • Category
    Fashion
  • Written by
    Tanya Monaghan

Suzie Hamer is one of those rare and fortunate people who always knew what she wanted. She is driven but soft-spoken, smart and also devoted. A fashion designer and a mom, Suzie crushes both full-time jobs with natural grace.

Suzie grew up in Sacramento, always with the intention of becoming a fashion designer. She left for NYC at 18 to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology. While she was earning her fashion degree, she interned backstage at New York fashion shows. It was here that she met some prominent designers, which opened the door for her to work at Nicole Miller while she was in school.

When she graduated, the design brand hired her to manage their kids line. Eighteen months later she was head of women’s design at Sideout Sport, a volleyball-focused company based in L.A. When Cherokee bought Sideout a year later, Suzie moved on to GUESS as an associate and later as a senior designer.

After getting engaged she became a freelance designer, allowing her the flexibility to work from home. This set the stage for a work environment perfectly suited for raising kids. She worked in design and trend forecasting for different companies—creating their overall concept, theme for the month and palette and deciding what they needed to buy.

This platform would soon provide the springboard for Hark + Hammer. Suzie met her current business partner, Uri Harkham, when she was designing private label for GUESS. Suzie was brought on by Uri to design a young contemporary line and mainly service GUESS.

After she moved on they stayed in touch, but two years ago he called her to help him relaunch Harkham—his highest price point label. With Suzie as a driving force, Harkham eventually became Hark + Hammer.

Prints and silks quickly became the signature pieces for Hark + Hammer, but Suzie never thought of herself as a “print person.” It was at Nicole Miller that she discovered one of her biggest sellers ever: animal-printed pants. “Now I’m obsessed with print mixing,” shares the designer.

Putting unusual prints together is a part of her genius. Prints on silk have a signature place in her lineup, all of which she designs by hand. Everything is printed in an art studio in Como, Italy—a location renowned for silk printing. Suzie also has a knack for pairing items that might not be an obvious choice—high-end, luxurious silk pants with a vintage graphic T-shirt—and it works.

Hark + Hammer recently released a philanthropy capsule T-shirt line that showcases original artwork with proceeds benefiting various worldwide causes. This season S.T.D. by Hark + Hammer will donate a percentage of proceeds to support Planned Parenthood. They also actively seek new ways of printing that are kinder to the environment.

Their method is the “greenest” option when compared to traditional printing, using less electricity and creating 60% less water and industrial waste while also reducing noise pollution by 60% and thermal energy by 80%. They support small, women-owned businesses in L.A., cutting and sewing the silk locally in high-end, small-quantity, specialist productions.

It has been a huge learning curve, coming from a background of wholesale and working for huge brands to selling artisan-produced pieces direct to consumers, but this driven South Bay designer takes it all in stride. Look for the next Hark + Hammer collection due this summer.

 

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