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The Hellers

Interview With The Hellers

Dania and Yoram Heller, based in Tel Aviv and Los Angeles respectively, are doing the unthinkable. That is, while their contemporaries are taking queues from outsourced, mass-produced, capsule collection producing elders, The Hellers are makin' jackets with deadstock fabrics and advertising by way of nightlife photography and word of mouth. Their jackets are wild and their acid washed jeans are right on the money. Check out our interview with The Hellers below.
So we shouldn't ask you how The Hellers originated, or else we'll get stories about your genealogy. Let's stick with the clothing, when did you and your sister first start designing together? Dania: I came back to Los Angeles from living in Tel Aviv for 7 years ( I have since moved back). After looking for jobs and literally going door to door in New York, I came to the conclusion no one really knew what or where my school was (the prestigious Shenkar School of Design). So when I heard that our Mom got sick, I moved back to LA and took a job designing pockets at a jeans “factory” in Industry, CA aka the armpit of the Earth. Yoram: When I came back from Buenos Aires in February 2007, we realized a few things. First, that it was worth it to try and fail rather than make pockets in a factory. Second, there was no one making great “streetwear” (I hate that word) for women. And lastly we realized that we didn't need to design whole collections to be outsourced. So we decided that we would make everything as high quality as possible, while knowing the names of everyone we worked with and using materials that already exist rather than having to create more in this already saturated world. In your designs you use both deadstock and limited edition fabrics, what are the advantages to going about textiles in this way? Dania: So in between our starting the company and where we are now, I took a hiatus to work as a designer in Israel for a LARGE company. The way it worked there, you never went to shop for material. People would come to you with swatches. You'd choose pantone colors out of a book and then send it to China and hope it would turn out okay. It was very virtual. I always felt like we were creating more waste and had no idea where it was actually coming from. A lot of my inspiration comes from touching the fabric, seeing the fabric and being able to play and compare swatches of fabric with my naked eye. So thats one thing. Waking up to the whole environmental issue and seeing that a lot of the times the vintage fabric are so much more right on than what is made nowadays just makes us want to work with these materials even more. These fabrics are so much more inspiring. Also, Israel is a really small country (duh). All the designers go to the same stores and often use the same materials. It take some of the mystery out of it. People end up using the same simple cottons and the same kinda of color palette – blacks, grays, whites. These materials are all weird silks, taffetas, polyesters, drill, etc. - it doesn't look like what you normally see here. In terms of the artists prints, when I was working at that large company designing I would bring them patterns and pictures that I thought were inspiring. If they were even borderline weird, it would be immediately rejected. So when I left, I just decided that if I saw something that inspired me and that I couldn't find, I would just make it myself. So I guess the advantage of this is that there is literally no one else with these prints in the world. And the artists that I work with love it. They never expect their work to be incorporated into clothing. It's always great to collaborate with artists working in different mediums. Aside from the fabric, what is the aesthetic personality of the brand? Yoram: We never sacrifice quality. Everything we make is made by hand, by us. We cut and sew. This is our response to the globalized market. We have a relationship with the the clothes we make. And we want the people that purchase our clothing to feel close to and proud of the garment that we have made. We want to know who they are and for them to feel as if they have a relationship with us through the garment. Although I hate the word streetwear, it is kind of like a bespoke streetwear. At the moment, you sell your clothing on your blog, what are some of the other ways that you promote your brand and sell your clothing? Yoram: We have our clothes being sold at a store here in Tel Aviv called Art-C Ifrach. His store is in an old club that you enter by walking down a flight of stairs. He designs the most amazing window pieces ever. Over the next month we have plans on entering stores in London, New York and Los Angeles as well. Everyone that carries The Hellers are friends. Our brand is the opposite of anonymity. And, dare we ask, what does the future hold for The Hellers? Dania: Never sacrifice quality. Keep being inspired. Enjoy what we do. And more than anything, be grateful for the opportunity. And some dresses for the Summer. Yoram: No, you dare not.
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