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The American Toffs

The hipster making clothes too expensive for hipsters.
December 1, 2003, 12:00am

Photo by Peter Sutherland.

The New York indie fashion scene had one of its few-and-far-between historical moments in the late 90s, when designers were as ubiquitous in the Meatpacking District as tranny whores and slaughtered cows. Two of the luminaries of that time, a couple of designers who made us very happy, were Susan Cianciolo and Miguel Adrover. Then one day they went to the store for a thing of milk and never came back. Cianciolo moved to L.A. to be an “artist” (what…ever) and Miguel, a shorthair away from complete superstardom, decided to stop doing regular collections, choosing instead to focus on growing his beard and riding his bike. Luckily, there is a young NY menswear designer named Andrew Harmon who worked as a close assistant to Susan and Miguel consecutively. It seems that he successfully absorbed both the crafty, handmade feel of Susan’s stuff and the suave guerrilla feel of Miguel’s designs. Thus, Andrew’s menswear line, pragmatically named Harmon, is the classiest thing to hit downtown New York City since those “Special Delivery” heroin bags. “I would love to have dressed Rainer Werner Fassbinder,” Andrew says, giving away a key clue to his psyche. Sophisticated yet perverse, like that “shit on me” twinkle in the eye of a guy too rich to enjoy normal sex anymore, Andrew’s garments use a landed-gentry idiom to impart the unavoidable message that below the Camel Flannel Trousers lies a cock that could split you in two. In the time of some truly repugnant dominant styles (“I hate low-rise jeans,” hisses Andrew), it is a joy to meet a hipster designer making things that most of his friends couldn’t afford with two years’ worth of their salary. “The hardest thing about producing a jacket is the price,” he admits. “But I’ve learned to stick to my guns.” With any luck, the hip community will grow into Harmon once they’re done with daily T-shirts and Air Jordans. These are the kind of jackets you want your grandson to inherit. JERRY MCPHEERSON