Before moving to Los Angeles, I’d heard of “LA style”, but it wasn’t until I moved there that I really understood what that meant. No socks with sandals, no Utilikilts, no neck tattoos (all pretty normal style statements where I grew up, just blocks away from the most hipster-infested neighborhood in Seattle). To tell the truth, I always feel a little jealous when I see someone breezing past me in a slouchy boho top or a maxi skirt while I’m stuck sweating out the California heat in a vintage dress or gold disco pants.
That’s where Hero Crane comes in. Josh Grenel and He Yang’s LA-based line is urban cool meets eco-chic, an East-meets-West mashup of breezy tops and sweaters that will work with everything from cowboy boots (Lindsay Lohan did it, guys) to pencil skirts. The now-married duo met in China while Josh was studying abroad, and it was all uphill from there.
The line has the rare combination of invention and wearability, incorporating discarded thread, plastic and wire to create one-of-a-kind “recycled” garments. Despite being pretty busy preparing to launch Hero Crane’s Fall 2012 line in Nieman Marcus, Intermix, and various other global boutiques, I managed to catch Josh for a few questions.
What is the essence of Hero Crane?
Textile-driven for one. We like to use the phrase “consistently inconsistent”, referring to our process of experimentation with materials. My wife is from China and I was born in the United States so our clothes have a multicultural feel that I think is a big part of our aesthetic.
We like the idea of compassion as an influence, meaning that striving to be compassionate makes you a bit more aware and maybe a better designer or artist. Or at least I hope so! I like to imagine that kind of vibe somehow translates into our clothes.
What inspired you to start your own line?
Hero Crane is another step in a line of progression that started with us making clothes for ourselves. From there we started selling to boutiques and stores like Fred Segal. So the line was the next logical step.
What inspired your Fall 2012 collection?
We experimented with thicker, chunkier textiles. This collection also probably incorporates a wider range of materials than any before. For a retail line I think you also have to consider a wider audience without losing ourselves, so that’s always a challenge. So creating a line that is crosses over from the West coast to the East coast and internationally is a practical reality.
Has your aesthetic changed since you launched Hero Crane?
It’s a little bit more chic, a little more grown up now. We’ve been designing for over ten years, although we’ve only had the retail line since 2009. As we’ve grown up so have our clothes.
How does the use of recycled materials contribute to that aesthetic?
It relates to what I eluded to before, that sense of experimentation and openness. That is still the heart of our line.
I think Hero Crane is very unique because of that aspect hand crafting. When we were making our own clothes we definitely were incorporating all types of discarded material from scraps of thread to bubble wrap to whatever worked really. We still use a lot of deconstructed material like mesh panels. We’ve been doing that since the beginning and its something that we’ve incorporated into the line.
What are your plans for the future?
Travel more, get a couple more good grooves on. We’re not big planners!