CARY – Some people don’t see things in black and white. Ian Hargrove, on the other hand, sees nothing but possibilities in those colors.
The Cary resident is making ripples in the fashion world with the partnering of his brand, AgainstAllOdds, with Nineteenth Amendment, a platform and manufacturing service for emerging designers in the U.S.
Hargrove’s four-piece black and white collection hit the Nineteenth Amendment site for ordering April 22. For 45 days, the pieces will be sold at wholesale discount prices to pay for production. If sales go well, they will remain on the site after the 45-day mark at retail price.
Hargrove said he was always interested in art. He painted and often found himself immersed in anything art-related. After a short-lived stint as a fine arts major, Hargrove made what was, to him, an easy decision, moving fashion forward.
“I’ve worked in the fashion industry for the past 10 years. I’ve done wardrobe styling, merchandising, retail, everything,” Hargrove said. “I just got tired of dressing models in other people’s clothes, so in 2012, I made a change.”
The 29-year-old grabbed the basics from some of his college design classes but was mainly self-taught. Once he started, he found the ideas came flooding in.
“It was a lot of trial and error. I knew the basics and just went from there trying anything and everything,” Hargrove said. “I’m easily inspired. My problem is often too many ideas.”
AgainstAllOdds is run by Hargrove and his director of collections, Erin DuFour. Design intern Kallen Horn assists with the designing and sewing. After testing the waters with a small collection initially, AgainstAllOdds came out with its first full collection in 2014. He launched a media push and fashion shows, and soon caught the attention of Nineteenth Amendment.
“It was a total lark,” Hargrove said. “I saw a link for them on Facebook, and it said they were very particular about who they selected. I love my clothes, and I thought they would love them too.”
Amanda Curtis, CEO and co-founder of the Brooklyn-based Nineteenth Amendment, couldn’t have agreed more.
“Ian’s amazing,” Curtis said. “We have a sample rack here, and it’s so fun and functional. I love that his clothes have a purpose. His brand is brilliant. His clothing is super wearable and functional but has a certain design aesthetic that you wouldn’t see at the mall. We want clothing you can’t find anywhere else, and his have a story and meaning behind each piece.”
Like Hargrove, Curtis was an independent designer with her own line. She knows all too well the struggles of trying to pave your way in such a cutthroat industry.
“The odds of being successful are astronomically stacked against independent designers,” Curtis said. “We knew there had to be a better way, so at Nineteenth Amendment we use technology and an updated business model to reach consumers in a new way.”
Nineteenth Amendment’s mission is to give designers a voice in the future of fashion and to bring a new business model and a new perspective to the industry. Finding the right designers to help carry this mission is a big part of Nineteenth Amendment’s success. They believe they found an ally in Hargrove.
“He’s a hustler, and he gets the business side. He understands what it’s going to take to get his brand out there. He has a strong mission statement along with a strong design aesthetic,” Curtis said. “I’m completely obsessed with his white top that we have on the site. The lines are great, clean, different. His pieces are sporty, functional and sexy at the same time.”
The collection features a black and white color pallet and was inspired by Edie Sedgewick’s “factory girl” feel.
“I want my pieces to be able to transition from day to evening,” Hargrove said. “I want you to be able to wear this to work then get home, throw on some earrings, heels and red lipstick and go out.”
Hargrove has a vivid picture of what his collections are, and that doesn’t always mean they’re about what’s trending.
“There is a huge shift in the way people purchase clothes now. Fashion has become so individual that even though there are clear trends season to season, people will purchase items and wear them because they love them, not because someone is telling them to love them,” Hargrove said.
Hargrove said one of the cornerstones of AgainstAllOdds is that they’re socially conscience. They recently partnered with Art of Freedom, a Chicago nonprofit that raises awareness for modern slavery and human trafficking.
“We are focused on keeping things as domestic as possible by manufacturing in the U.S. and helping where we can,” Hargrove said.
Hargrove has hopes of branching out to other areas of fashion once he’s established a strong women’s brand. He describes his current market as women pre-college to 40 that like to dress and take a little risk but still can go see the parents in what they have on.
Hargrove intends to conquer the fashion world, one cool, chic element at a time.