SMU Fashion Week kicked off Wednesday with a talk from London-based designer Levi Palmer of Palmer//Harding.
Palmer, who grew up in Texas, met Matthew Harding at Central Saint Martins in 2007 while studying there. The duo started the label in 2011, with their focus on the timeless white shirt.
Palmer spoke about how he realized his passion for design at an early age, and was inspired by designers by the likes of Alexander McQueen and Martin Margiela. He said that while Dallas is a hub for luxury fashion, he was taken aback by the cultural creativity in London.
Junior Liz Meyer enjoyed Palmer’s talk, as she appreciated his resolve in risking comfort to pursue creative fulfillment. Palmer mentioned that when they first founded the label, the duo only had enough money for a sewing machine and cotton.
“It was fascinating to hear about the financial and personal obstacles that a designer has to face when first starting out,” said Meyer. “Levi’s talk really demonstrated how much hard work and passion goes into becoming a designer.”
A Palmer//Harding shirt isn’t just any white shirt. Each piece is infused with cunning compositions in pattern cutting or elusive trimmings. The shirts are gathered, pleated and made to fit in all of the right places.
The duo’s incredible capacity to elevate the ordinary is precisely why they have been featured in glossies like Vogue and i-D. They continually refine their patterns, and focus on directional design rather than extravagant fabrics.
Palmer’s talk was exceptionally well attended, filling up a large room in SMU’s Umphrey Lee building. Freshman Jessye Bullock attended the talk because she has an interest in fashion design.
Palmer also spoke about how the duo gets their inspiration from Tumblr, as they follow fine artists on the site. When they find someone particularly interesting, they reach out to the artist and try to grasp their ethos.
What’s next for the label? With the changing landscape of the market, the duo plans to expand their customer base with lower price points for some of their best-selling classics. With an aesthetic so unique, it is no wonder the press calls their pieces the world’s most perfect shirts.