New York City, NY — by Olivia Liu
This story was originally published on New York University’s Washington Square News.
zHarper Collective, designer Samantha Harper’s latest venture into made-to-order garments, has made a name for itself as an “it girl” brand. Harper’s designs are lush, sexy and sheer — and have been seen everywhere, from the Instagrams of Kylie Jenner and Addison Rae to Charlotte D’Alessio in Galore magazine.
Harper began her foray into fashion by selling comfort — her leisurewear brand Sweats by Sam began selling handmade tie-dye sweatsuits in the midst of the pandemic — and later expanded her business with personalized name stitching and aura-matching color questionnaires. In her latest collection, “Superbloom,” Harper experiments with unique, childhood-inspired flower appliques that attach to each of her garments.
The flowers that garnish the ensembles are just as playful as Harper, who sat down with WSN to discuss how she built her brand online, in between her college classes.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
WSN: What inspired you to start your first fashion endeavor, Sweats by Sam?
Harper: I started off interning at this company called Rosemilk, which was started by two founders that eventually went their separate ways. One founder started Mirror Palais, and the other started Heavy Manners. I learned a lot from them — it was an amazing time — but I didn’t feel as fulfilled because you’re just helping to execute that brand’s vision as an intern.
So when I came back from the summer internship and came back home to Cleveland, I started tie-dyeing different tops and bottoms. My dad said to just start selling them at that point, because they were all I was wearing around the house. I created the Depop in October of 2019, and I had a photoshoot with my friend Alex in the art school bathroom, because they wouldn’t let us use the photo studio.
WSN: How did you grow your brand in the digital realm?
Harper: I shipped it out to my friend Kallie Kaiser first. We became internet friends in high school, and she had a pretty large following on her YouTube. She posted the set, and then things just kind of took off from there. My Depop was doing pretty well, and I realized I needed to make a website. Shortly after I made the website in June of 2020, Addison Rae found my brand.
I was working with an influencer named Genelle Selden, and decided to send her something that I had never seen before — my same shorts and zip-ups, but in tie-dye. I really wanted to be the first to pioneer it, and then Genelle posted a picture of her wearing both a top from LIVINCOOL, which I had been a fan of all throughout high school, and my brand’s shorts. She tagged both of us and I was so excited because it was one of the first times I started getting real exposure.
Read the rest of the story at Washington Square News.