Meet The Person #25: Haman Alimardani (Hamansutra)

Today episode #25 of the topic Meet the Person with Haman Alimardani. This topic Meet the Person is about passionate people, people in the denim industry. In Meet the Person I will give you an insight into their life; who are they, what are they doing, what makes them so special, where are they working on, etc. etc.

This new episode of Meet the Person is with Haman Alimardani, founder of Hamansutra. Thanks for sharing your great denim story Haman Alimardani!

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Haman Alimardani

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Pic by: Jimagraphy.

  • Name: Haman Alimardani.
  • Living in village & country: Munich, Germany.
  • Age: 41 years.
  • Instagram ID: @hamansutra.
  • Number of Instagram followers: 270 followers (new account).
  • Website: www.hamansutra.com and online shop https://quickshop.nyc.
  • Daily work: Fashion designer, DJ and project based creative director. The idea behind my daily workshop, which I call “Bekleidungswerke” or “clothing works“, is to create a manufacturing centre with a design studio and old sewing machines. I’m at it’s heart, as the mechanic, the master tailor in the technical construction of clothing, and the Design Director. And Tuesdays are appointment days. Come around for coffee and biscuits.

Can you introduce yourself (who are you and what are you doing):

I was born in 1977 in Tehran, Iran. I grew up in New York and Munich and lived for long periods in Hamburg and London. I am the founder of Hamansutra and the virtual New York online store Quickshop, which operates from Munich. The inspiration for my online store came from my vision of the US Army, with soldiers sitting in 8 sqm containers sending drones into war which were controlled from somewhere or other in the world.

I began my artistic career as a DJ and graffiti artist. After initially studying graphic design in Munich, I completed a degree in fashion design in 2004 at the elite Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. Powerful influences during this period were my time as an assistant for ex-former assistant of Helmut Lang (2002) and my internship in the Munich-based clothing department of the German Military Forces, where I learnt to appreciate the value of timeless design.

A further key stage in my development was my training in the costume department of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich (2003), where I worked on productions including Richard Wagner’s “Twilight of the Gods”, Handel’s “Saul” and ballet pieces by Jacopo Godani.

As a fashion designer under my own Hamansutra label, I’ve worked for clients including Poltrona Frau, Levi’s, Kenzo, Cazal Eyewear and Louis Vuitton. Since 2003, I’ve been a guest speaker at design institutions including Parsons New School of Design in New York, and a lecturer at the Miami Ad School in Brooklyn.

Fashion trade show Bread and Butter Berlin appointed me as a Creative Director in March 2015, with the brief of designing a new, more creative image for the show. In the last six months of 2018 I worked at Louis Vuitton’s Munich HQ in sales and design and completed various assignments for Virgil Abloh.

How did you enter the denim industry:

I and other likeminded aficionados were already prowling flea markets in the 80’s and 90’s, seeking out the selvedge denim pants with the Big E label from Levi’s, very aware of the value of what we found. In 2002 I was working for a former assistant of Helmut Lang and was responsible for the “New York Industry” brand, providing ideas for the denim collection. Years later in New York City, I realised that actually I was focusing on denim the whole time anyway. I got an interesting offer from the Garment District, which I ended up refusing for various reasons even though they put a whole caseful of money on the table in front of me. Money isn’t everything in life, even if you only live once.

Then I launched my first denim range many years later in Italy, a partnership with Poltrona Frau where I used the buttons from their Chesterfield sofas for my Raw Rigid Denim Line. Ever since, I’ve been expanding my workshop with the vision of producing the perfect jeans collection. Every machine focuses on one detail, produces a product that is not open to discussion. As a denim and clothing works, I’m also happy to accept orders from other brands if the chemistry is there.

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Reversible denim items by Hamansutra with original Poltrona Frau buttons. Pic by Detlef Schneider.

What are you doing at the moment:

I’m expanding my product line and producing it in-house; jackets, pants and shirts, as authentic as 150 years ago. I don’t compromise on quality; my motto is “No Savings – Only Quality”. I still get my boots produced in Austria in small production runs; the soles have wooden nails that are made on a machine from 1880. My Military Jungle Boot is made with Candiani Denim. There are just a handful of factories around the world that still have these machines and know how to use them. “They go through bones like butter.”

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Hamansutra boots, the soles have wooden nails that are made on a machine from 1880.

On the subject of “When I gave Alexander McQueen my pants”, I’m producing a re-issue of the German Military Pants, updated by Hamansutra that I gave Lee McQueen back in the day. Good quality industrial manufacture, cheap, not trendy, a German-made product. After 9/11 2001, I met Alexander McQueen for an interview in London. Lee McQueen had been on the lookout for classic tailors able to perform tasks like hand-stitching eyelet buttonholes. Lee Alexander McQueen accepted my German military pants and original sketch as a gift, with a hand-written dedication. A picture showing Lee Alexander McQueen actually wearing the military pants in his studio, has now been used for the cover of “Alexander McQueen – The Life and the Legacy” by Judith Watt, a globally published examination of the designer.

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German Military Pants, updated by Hamansutra. Pic by Derrick Santiani.

What are you the most proud of in terms of your work?

Nothing to do with denim, but with clothing: in 2003/04 I was commissioned by Jung von Matt to create a full body suit known as “Blu Costume” for the “Geiz ist geil” (Cheap Is Cool) advertising campaign by consumer electronics chain Saturn. This work was acclaimed by major German news magazine Der Spiegel as “Germany’s most successful advertising campaign.”

Anyway, whatever kind of work it is, I’m proud of my career because it’s been a tough journey. All my projects and products are based on storytelling. A product is inspired by what I see and experience on my travels and on what happens to me there; London, New York, LA, Teheran, Germany and China. There aren’t any books that lay down the law about your journey through life, where you have to go, and how and when. You have to walk all those roads yourself.

What’s the biggest denim trend(s) right now in your opinion?

Quality.

And what would be the next denim trend:

My Military Jungle Boots made from raw rigid Candiani Denim.

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Military Jungle Boots made from raw rigid Candiani Denim.

What’s your favorite denim brand(s):

Roy Slaper, Levi’s Vintage Clothing, Mr Freedom, Big John Corporations, First Standard Co. and Civilianaire.

Where does your inspiration come from:

Simple, I’ve been riding a bike for over 30 years. It’s the freedom that gives me the best ideas. So whoever wants to book me, I first have to go for a bike ride. Ciao!

What’s your favorite denim item in your closet and why:

Definitely the legendary 501 selvedge pants with Big E that you could still pick up in Bavaria in the 80’s and 90’s. The cut was different; they made women’s asses look so hot. But I have to say as well that I always admired the Levi’s Red, not the cheapest but the best, line. They were made from hemp and cotton, just my style, and featured experimental cuts. They were real works of art. I found them incredibly inspiring and built up quite a collection.

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Homage to Levi’s Strauss by Hamansutra. Pic by awilliamsmedia.com.

What’s your favorite denim fit:

Boot cut, with turnups or ripped at high water level. Looks incredibly sexy on men and women, and sexy is a huge priority of mine. Teamed with polished cowboy boots, or one of my boot styles that I have hand-made in Austria. It’s part of the whole US culture to wear boot cuts like this; even in Europe there are plenty of people that have horses and ride, but they’re light years away from achieving the same style. It might be time for me to move back to the US full time.

What’s your favorite denim city:

Los Angeles with the world’s most dangerous group N.W.A.

Who’s your favorite denim designer:

Jason Denham, as a designer doing a fantastic, successful and commercial job with his documentation archive Garment Library, in-depth research and development, and stunning visual presentation. All the things that tick my boxes when it comes to designers. He likes to work with Candiani Denim and he produces in Japan. There’s another line made in China, but that’s not my clientele or my taste. The Real McCoy’s from Japan also do a superb job, but they’re not designers; they just reproduce replicas perfectly.

Roy Slaper is another great designer, and what a sense of humour! A real one-man show. His video opened a host of doors for all those denim heads today who have never had anything to do with denim or workshops, let alone tailoring. And there comes a lawyer who decides to make denim pants! Everyone starts stealing his ideas, from using shell stitch machines for the inside pockets to bringing in embroidery machines that had previously only been used by grannies’ costume tailors. And the Japanese? Sooo delicious.

The real Oscar nomination goes to: Jacob Davis! Taking a little trip into history, he was the tailor that developed those pants with the rivets. Levi Strauss was nothing but a businessman, and Jacob saw Levi as his dream partner because he desperately needed money for a patent. Levi Strauss had already documented and marketed the products, and the products he sold, designed by Jacob Davis, were very successful. In fact all Levi Strauss had done was to supply the denim and market the various brands. People were interested in filling their wardrobes with more and more new products. So Levi Strauss was the winner in the end. He was born in Bavaria, so I guess that makes Levi’s a German product, doesn’t it? This history was what made me write my concept “Homage to Levis Strauss by Hamansutra” listing everything that’s still open on the Americans’ to-do list. But the story actually reminds me of Antonio Salieri, who came to notoriety as a jealous rival of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I imagine the relationship between Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis as Levi Strauss in the Salieri role and Jacob Davis as Mozart. Makes me think I should make a movie.

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Homage to Levi’s Strauss by Hamansutra. Pic by Florian Deventer.

What do you think is the best invention in the denim industry:

In terms of history, the production of indigo dye from plants is over 6000 years old. Indigo was a really popular dye with my Persian forebears thousands of years ago. But we can jump forward into the 19th century when Jacob Davis started making workwear pants from denim. Denim, or “duck textile”, was a rugged fabric used for wagon covers and texts, like today’s Freitag bags and those messenger bags made from truck tarps. The use of copper rivets to strengthen pocket corners wasn’t a new invention, but Levi Strauss took out a patent for it. Well, he was rich, so he could.

Who’s your denim hero & why:

My denim heroes are more the hip hop artists from the 80’s that wore denim pants with Adidas Superstars and fat laces, like Run Dmc, Beastie Boys, Whodini, Chuck D and Grandmaster Melle Mel.

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Run Dmc in 1987. Pic by Glen E. Friedman.

What’s your favorite denim store:

Self Edge in New York.

What are your ultimate denim accessories:

I call them: Sleeve Protectors by Hamansutra.

Levi Strauss died in 1904. Perhaps that was a good thing; the historic earthquake in San Francisco in 1906 destroyed the headquarters of his factory and all its contents. That’s why the hunt for lost Levi Strauss items is still carried on so passionately today. The Raw Rigid Denim Sleeve Protectors are designed as a memento of that earthquake; something similar was worn by many of the volunteer helpers and civil servants at the time. I wear them myself in my workshop if I want to protect special items of clothing. If they wear out, they’re much cheaper to replace than buying a new jacket. The Sleeve Protectors are available on request, manufactured in Levi Strauss’ place of birth in Germany, Bavaria.

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Sleeve Protectors by Hamansutra. Pic by awilliamsmedia.com.

What’s your favorite inspiration quote:

“The mind is like a parachute, it only works when it’s open.”

Who would you love to see in the next Meet the Person:

First Standard Co. from New York City. He’s really talented and is doing a great job as a jeans maker, with really unique and special cuts.

Watch also the video interview with Hamansutra on Denimhunters here.

Read the previous episodes of Meet the Person;

Meet the Person #1: Amy Leverton (Denim Dudes): here.

Meet the Person #2: Jacques Grosz (Kiliwatch store Paris): here.

Meet the Person #3: Guido Biondi (Roy Roger’s): here.

Meet the Person #4: Gerold Brenner (Designer, Trendforecaster): here.

Meet the Person #5: Leon Blok (Designer, tailor maker): here.

Meet the Person #6: Guido Kerssens (AMFI Amsterdam): here.

Meet the Person #7: James Veenhoff (Denim City, Jean School, Fronteer): here

Meet the Person #8: Moritz Fuchs (New Heritage Festival): here

Meet the Person #9: Christine Rucci (Godmother NYC): here

Meet the Person #10: Sean Gormley (Creative Director Wrangler E.M.E.A.): here.

Meet the Person #11: Piero Turk (Denim Designer): here.

Meet the Person #12: Peter Kats (Vice President Lee Jeans E.M.E.A.): here.

Meet the Person #13: Han Ates (founder of Blackhorse Lane Ateliers): here.

Meet the Person #14: Ben Viapiana (Bespoke Denim Tailor): here.

Meet the Person #15: Tony Tonnaer (founder Kings of Indigo): here.

Meet the Person #16: Maggy Tuijp (Denim Development at DENHAM the Jeanmaker): here.

Meet the Person #17: Nick Williams (Graphic Designer): here.

Meet the Person #18: Koen Tossijn: here.

Meet the Person #19: Sinem Celik (Denim Consultant): here.

Meet the Person #20: Stefano Angelico (Braves And Company): here.

Meet the Person #21: Simona Testucci (Peppino Peppino): here.

Meet the Person #22: Silvia Rancani (The Denim Window): here.

Meet the Person #23: Michael Kampe (Creative Director Lee Jeans): here.

Meet the Person #24: Iu Franquesa (Companion Denim): here.

Written by Wouter
I'm the founder of Long John. Next to running this daily magazine I'm working as a freelance marketing specialist for brands and retail. Specialized in denim.