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Harris Tapper is creating pared-back occasion wear for the modern woman

WORDS BY IZZY WIGHT

“Each collection is comprised of elements that define Harris Tapper: easy elegance, subversive femininity and sculptural minimalism.”

As we move further into the different realms of adulthood, our wardrobes take on new responsibilities. Instead of rotating through the same threadbare work uniforms and wine-stained minidresses, a corporate debut often means ‘finding’ your professional style persona. It’s no easy feat, particularly when you’re looking for stylish, contemporary and consciously-made officewear.

Harris Tapper founders Sarah Harris Gould and Lauren Tapper noticed this lack of sartorial choices to serve the modern, professional woman. After meeting while working together in fashion across New York and London, the pair started discussing the lack of quality women’s shirting available. With career backgrounds in buying and PR, Lauren and Sarah decided to hone in on perfecting one timeless, staple wardrobe item: the button-up shirt.


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The cliche of hardworking ‘day to night’ workwear – a phrase used all too often in the fashion world – is surprisingly difficult to execute. Harris Tapper was created to bridge that gap and “transcend traditional boundaries between work and occasion wear”. Each season is described as an “off-beat yet considered take on workwear staples”, comprised of pieces that don’t sacrifice the environment.

The label’s latest collection, Séverine, is inspired by the 1967 French drama film Belle du JourThe film follows a despondent housewife who decides to spend her midweek afternoons working as a high-class prostitute, working under the pseudonym ‘Belle du Jour’. The collection reflects the film’s theme of subversive femininity, portrayed in pieces like the Margaux Jumper, a soft mohair blend turtleneck that can be folded down to reveal the collarbones and shoulders.

Since the creation of the singular Harris Tapper button-up, the brand has expanded to offer seasonal ranges, now stocked in iconic high-end London department store Harrods. Amidst the madness of preparing a new collection, the duo speaks to Fashion Journal about the lessons they’ve learnt so far.

Tell us about you. What’s your fashion background? How did the label get started? Talk us through the process and the challenges.

 

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Sarah: I grew up in Auckland and studied graphic design at University in Wellington. I then moved to London and worked as a buyer for a high street retailer, returning to head up the product side of a global fashion brand when it launched in New Zealand.

Lauren: I grew up in Northland and studied fashion design at University in Auckland. Following that, I cut my teeth in visual merchandising and public relations where I met and worked with Sarah. 

S and L: Whist working together we saw a gap in the market for quality women’s shirting and started Harris Tapper. From the outset, the conversation was always around creating pieces that transcended traditional boundaries between work and occasion-wear. We both believed in the idea that clothes should last for more than one season so it made sense to start small and build up.

We launched Harris Tapper focusing on only one item that we considered a foolproof staple for any woman’s wardrobe: the shirt. Since then, Harris Tapper has organically grown to now offer full collections, that while bigger, maintain the same philosophy we started with. 

What are you trying to communicate through the brand now?

 

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S and L: Our intention is to offer sartorial choices to serve the modern, professional life. Each collection is comprised of elements that define Harris Tapper: easy elegance, subversive femininity and sculptural minimalism.

Our wearer is independent, career-focused and multifaceted. With each season we want to deliver off-beat yet considered takes on workwear staples, masculine tailoring and hard-working pieces, all of which champion her life.

Where did the name come from?

S and L: Our names. We’re Sarah Harris Gould and Lauren Tapper. There’s an autobiographical tone to our work, so it made sense.

What are you most proud of in your work on your label?

 

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S and L: Probably our drive to grow the business globally. We’re in our fourth year and have had some amazing opportunities, from selling our collection in Paris to being picked up by the most famous department store in the world, Harrods, in London.

What do you wish you knew when you started?

S and L: We wouldn’t have minded having a bit more production knowledge! Accounting is a minefield, luckily we had a lot of help early on. We’d always recommend finding a decent accountant and/or business advisor to anyone looking to start their own brand.  

Go-to dinner party playlist?

 

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S and L: Itchy Feet by harryjhealy on Spotify.

Who is in your wardrobe right now?

S and L: We wear Harris Tapper every day! We both believe in making pieces that transition through every challenge or need each day faces, so you can usually count on one of us (or with a twist of fate, both of us on the same day) to be wearing a suit trouser – the Marta Trouser is our go-to. Another favourite cut is the Irving Trouser, cut on the bias so it perfectly contours the legs to feel subtly sophisticated.

Our background is in shirting, so we always reach for an oversized boyfriend shape. The Kantor Shirt is in a structural cotton poplin that has body to it – it feels nice and crispy on the body. We’d pair this with either a lightweight knit or tailored coat, depending on the season. Something [that’s] in our wardrobes right now – a steamer! 

Browse the Harris Tapper collection in its entirety here.

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