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Designer Keeps Production Local for Fashion Week Debut

By Serena Solomon | February 7, 2013 7:23am

BROOKLYN — David Hart only needed to flick through 1940s images of his impeccably dressed grandfather to find the look for his men's fashion label that will debut at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week this week.

"He was always dressed up. Everything was perfect — his pocket square, how he did his hair," said Hart, 30, a Clinton Hill resident, of his grandfather.

As a young man, the now 90-year-old Stephan Hart had dressed well for his frequent visits to city hot spots such as Toots Shor's Restaurant or the Stork Club, according to his grandson.

"A lot of it, too, is the attitude he had in those photos," Hart said. "It is something that comes out naturally when you dress up — that confidence."

After five years of building his men's accessory label David Hart & Co. on handmade ties, pocket squares and socks, Hart will showcase an entire collection of suit pants and jackets at a show at the New Museum on Thursday.

While fabrics of historical quality might be sourced elsewhere, Hart has made a point of keeping his clothing construction in the United States — with a factory in Brooklyn.

"This is a great time for men's fashion because a lot of young people are dressing up," said Hart, who got his start alongside designers Tommy Hilfiger, Anna Sui and Ralph Lauren.

Hart is banking on other people swooning over a style from a previous era.

"This is all coming from people in their mid-20s or 30s and maybe they are looking at pictures of their grandparents in the '50s and '60s and thinking 'Wow, how great everyone looks,'" he said.

For his line, Hart sourced fabrics from afar. His tweeds came from the historic factories in Donegal, Ireland as well as Harris Tweed from Scotland. 

"We are also really excited about our mohair suiting for men," Hart said of the fabric that was popular in the 1950s and 1960s.

While the tailoring is reminiscent of decades past, the designs are still modern.

"We are doing an undarted jacket with a natural shoulder and higher waist trouser," Hart said. "It is still a slim look and flattering on many different body types."

Beside the merino knitwear that is made in Italy and a fisherman’s sweater from Ireland, everything in the collection is constructed in the United States.

"Someone can say that this is a great product that is made here locally," he said.

Hart's ties are hand-stitched even closer to home — the Chairman Neckwear factory in Sunset Park.

"It makes a stronger tie, it knots nicer, it wears nicer, which I think most guys appreciate," said Hart, of the 10-step handmade process of cutting, stitching and pressing.

While his grandfather may have inspired the designs, it is Hart's great-grandfather, Isaac Hart, who caused him to seek out local manufacturers.

"He made his living making hats on the Lower East Side," Hart said.