An interview with ned hardy: A Brand-obsessed creator & Designer
Who is ned hardy?
My name is Ned. I’m 21, a junior here. I study art history and art practice. I’m originally from London, and then more recently from Connecticut. I was born in London, my brother was born in London, and my parents have been there for two decades. They were both in the fashion and design industries so I have always had that coursing through me… that kind of vibe going on, and have just always been encouraged to pursue creative stuff.
So, art has influenced you from a really young age?
Yeah, totally. I’ve always had a huge interest in clothing and wearable things, and in highschool I started this brand called Southern Gothic that still exists. I haven’t made much for it recently, but I got a bunch of t-shirts printed with graphics and tie-dyed them in my backyard and I sold like 200 shirts to my friends over the course of two years. From Instagram, I sold it to some dude in Mexico and people in South America were finding them via hashtags. It was crazy. That was kind of the beginning of realizing that I wanted to make stuff and I wanted to sell it to people.
WAS THERE ONE MOMENT WHEN YOU REALIZED YOU WANTED TO CREATE?
I think we all suffer from some kind of humility and modesty sometimes, which I think is a good thing but at the same time, I think it’s also important to be like “Yo wait. I’m really fucking good at this, and people like this shit.” That’s kind of what I realized when I was making these shirts and people were wanting them and wanting to purchase them. And I was like “wait, I actually think I’m tapped into what people want. I know what is cool and can create what is cool. I think I have a finger on the zeitgeist."
Did you ever consider going to art or design school?
Considered. Definitely did consider...but got here thought about different things and ended up art history and art practice which I love.
I’m a big lover of art in general. I’m an artist. I love to study art. I love to be around art, and I think what it really comes down to at the end of the day is that I love products and I love trends. And I literally think Art History – what is Art History? It’s studying products through time and how they relate to trends and what people like at a certain point in time. And it’s art.
What’s your vibe? How do you brand yourself?
It’s very much a high-low thing. My whole life revolves around high-low. So I can explain that. What I mean by that, is I love to incorporate components of high fashion or high art with elements that would be considered by most to be low-brow in every sense. Whether that makes itself known in what I’m wearing on a day to day basis... I don’t know, I go to savers and buy a fucking nine dollar pair of acid wash jeans from lord knows when, I don’t even know whose they are and I wear those everyday with something else that isn’t that way. Or like, the other day I found half of a Cartier love bracelet in the backyard and I’m going to turn it into a necklace. It’s just like a mangled piece of metal.. you know what I mean? Low brow, high brow, bringing it together. That’s kind of my thing.
Recently, on a random note. I’ve gotten very obsessed with vintage rock t-shirts. So t-shirts from tours in the 80’s and shit. I’m into old stuff. I’m into new stuff and kind of bringing it together… that kind of thing.
How did you start designing your t-shirt collection?
So, I’ve worked for SSE for a number of years now, and we have the Student Store but most of the stuff that we sell there is being sold to tourists, which is fine, like that’s dope and great…but we should be selling a few things that Stanford students care about wanting to go and purchase and are wanting to wear -- not this corny stuff, which is important to sell to tourists, but not everyone else wants to wear. So, the whole Camp Stanford thing was first, and I was like “let’s just make some t-shirts in small quantities and see how they sell, see if people are interested." The response was massive.
The Camp Stanford – I mean, I didn’t make that up at all that’s a thing that people talk about all the time, you know, like Senior Spring --just Stanford in general is very much sunshine and that kind of thing. I love the idea of old summer camp logos and summer camp t-shirts like in the 80’s wet hot American summer kind of thing, so I was on Illustrator screwing around and I just made a camp Stanford logo. And that photo on the back is just a photo that I love and have always loved. It’s just a photo of Lake Lag. It just works really well with the simple t-shirt.
WHY DO YOU SELL THESE IN SUCH LIMITED QUANTITIES?
The whole point of all this…is that everything is purposely made in extremely limited quantities, which is firstly, a failsafe, but I’m also trying to create demand here, and create something that people want and so far that has been the case, and I’d rather have fewer people… it's not a thing that I don’t want people to have it, of course I want people to have it, which is why we are doing another Camp Stanford re-stock, but it’s not like at any given moment you can walk in and buy 60 of the t-shirts.
So what are you trying to do with your career?
I am trying to build brands. I’m obsessed with brands -- My brands and other people’s brands. I’m obsessed with products. I want to design experiences and I want to design products that create experiences. I know this all sounds like a bunch of fucking San Francisco tech jargon but that’s not what I’m talking about at all. What I’m really saying is that I want to build brands and I genuinely think that’s what I’m good at. I think I’m tapped into the zeitgeist and that’s what I want to do with my life.
Is that what you are thinking of doing this summer?
Yea it is. I’m going to be in New York. I’m really excited; it sort of has taken a lot to get to this point. I’m basically doing freelance branding and design work for a bunch of different people companies in the city. Some startups in SF, working remotely, and I’m just sort of doing my thing. I just kind of want to go out on my own. I know how to do all this stuff, what can some rigorous program teach me or give me that I don’t already have unless I’m just trying to get some sort of “internship” on my resume. I think there’s some value to that kind of thing, but at the same time, I kind want to do my own thing and run with it.
How do you find your inspiration?
I do read blogs. I read a lot of magazines. I get a lot of magazines and I like to flip through them. I’m a long time lover of Vogue.. it was sort of bred into me. I love websites. I love the Internet, I love Instagram… I’m obsessed with colors, I love good colors and I’m always trying to figure out what the best colors are for certain contexts. There are a couple of websites that I love, and there’s always been one that’s been a mood-board for me -- this website that I like called jjjjound.com, with four js.. I’m constantly inspired by where I am and literally the buildings in which I’m situated in, which can be bad or good.
Is there anything else you want people to know?
Ned Hardy. Sargent. My middle name is actually Sargent.
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By: Ameeqa Ali
Photography: Chase Porter
Art Direction by: Chase Porter and Ned Hardy