Judson Harmon is a 20-something designer, model, business owner and retail mogul in the making. Harmon’s ØDD NYC boutique and styling house is a Stateside incubator of the avant garde health/street goth fashion subculture, featuring an eclectic selection of designers and labels who are the stylistic adherents of the aesthetic including the likes of Barbara I Gongini, Alexandre Plokhov, Y/Project, KRISVANASSCHE, Rochambeau and Strateas Carlucci, to name but a few. Now, Harmon is about to enter the ring in the ultimate manner, with the launch of his own, eponymous fashion label.
For one of such a young age you have quite a unique and astute fashion sensibility. How did your style aesthetic develop?
I moved to New York City as a dancer and a singer so my style started from a very (and I mean very) theatrical view. At one point in time, I believe around the age of nineteen, I went almost a year without wearing flats. Since then my style has evolved near constantly to reflect my schedule. Back then I had more time to get ready, but now I spend so much time at work and on the go that I’ve turned to a more relaxed and mobile look. I spend much of my time with fashion, thinking about it, buying it, selling it, that my style has also gone from more thought-out looks to more of a signature look with slight variations. I don’t have much time to think about it anymore.
In an ever increasingly homogenous New York, ØDD has flourished, to what do you attribute your success?
I’ve been fortunate enough to open in a now up-and-coming neighbourhood that is constantly filled with cultured tourists and is also a bit of a celebrity hideout. I would not necessarily say that New York is becoming increasingly homogenous, but I will say that the typical New Yorker does not want to stand out as much as they used to. So my job has been to find the non-typical New Yorkers and we’ve done a pretty good job at that. We also started online so we’ve been shipping all over the world since the start and we have become one of the top-selling U.S. stores on Farfetch as well.
You’re also a model; how has this shaped you and what have you learned from your time behind the camera that has aided your designer-career?
When I first moved to New York I visited an agency (since both of my parents and my uncle were models, I figured I should try), and they told me I was too fat. Mind you, I was twenty pounds underweight. That agency no longer exists. I started modeling because of Michelle Lee, the casting director, who used to be at KCD casting for Interview Magazine. Interview cast me as an un-signed model for three different editorials with photographers Fabien Baron, Craig McDean, and Steven Klein, so my eye really developed from watching these industry greats work and observing what details struck them. My time in front of the camera has helped me to see multiple perspectives, not only with fashion but with life in general.
We opted out of participating in NYFW to focus on creating something new and moving to films instead. I always felt like shows were so creatively stifling, so with film we are able to capture the full concept and not just throw it down a runway, which is particularly important to me since I now have my name on it. The first JUDSON HARMON collection will be available exclusively at ØDD this fall and the new brand is exclusively menswear. That’s not to say that women can’t wear it too.
High ‘youth’ fashion is flourishing, from Katie Eary to Bobby Abley- such designers are tapping a nerve that the mainstream brands have lost touch with. Why do you think this is?
I could go on and on about this but I think it’s ultimately very simple. They’re easy to hype and have a sense of humour and nostalgia about them that even a non-fashion fan’s eye can understand (even if they choose to make fun of it). In a day and age where anyone can be famous just by taking photos of themselves in the mirror, I believe high youth fashion is flourishing because it’s the next step in standing out. Everyone has a platform to be loud, so now it’s about who can be the loudest and the craziest. The brands that are catering to this client are smart, albeit relying heavily on a current trend. I’ll be interested in seeing what they evolve into next.
Do you think that social media is the driving force behind the new ‘democracy of fashion’?
Yes and no. There are no promises with social media. A large percentage of your following might appreciate what you do but they are just window-shoppers. They enjoy what they see but either do not have the money or are not willing to spend the money on it. That being said, those people talk and the buzz is what you are looking for. Word-of-mouth has evolved tremendously in the social media age.
One last question. What usually takes place during one of your typical night outs?
Well, usually when I go out its in Brooklyn, and I’m with my drag queen friends Misty Meaner and Mocha Lite and there’s tequila involved. There’s always tequila involved.
As featured in Chasseur issue #10 – LOVE ALONE (SS15)
Judson Harmon was exclusively shot for LOVE ALONE in New York by Danny Roche