Hiro Clark founder Andy Salzer is changing the graphic t-shirt space by creating high-quality, uniform classics that evoke Old Hollywood nostalgia. The tees are etched with gritty phrases such as “Daddy,” “The Talent,” and “Cult Leader,” and can be paired with other modern staples in the collection including sweatshirts, sweatpants and no-sleeve hoodies. The Hiro Clark brand holds deep roots in Los Angeles, with pieces that pay homage to the city and celebrate its tenacity and glamor. The construction of each garment stands tall with integrity, and the simplicity and wearability of each piece culminate as a uniform engulfed in timeless Americana. Collaborations with companies such as Ace Hotel, Equinox, and Classic Car Club keep the brand fresh and relevant to its Angeleno and worldwide audiences. The brand’s collections primarily feature neutral tones that prioritize comfort and practicality, but bold, daring hot pink tees and super bloom orange tracksuits ensure that there’s just about something for everyone. We sat down with Andy Salzer to discuss everything Hiro Clark.
Can you speak a bit about the background/creation of Hiro Clark? What was your lightbulb moment that made you want to jump into fashion?
Every time you get dressed, you’re consciously or unconsciously tipping people off to who you are and letting people know a little bit about you. Fashion is an incredibly powerful communication tool. I wanted to participate. My biggest influence has always been the t-shirt. They’re worn by everyone yet, they are weirdly challenging to make considering their technical simplicity. They act as a canvas for designers: punk tees from the 80’s, band tees with their tour dates, politically charged imagery and phrases, brands that slap their logos on them. T-shirts always say ‘I am chill and don’t care’ but also say ‘this is what I’m thinking.’ I’m not trying to oversell it, but t-shirts have this weird power in the marketplace. And we all have our favorites that we’ll never get rid of. We save them and covet them and wear them into the ground.
That’s what got me started in all of this. So I moved to New York and got even more into it. I started a line and had a full menswear collection – suits, outerwear, denim, t-shirts, all of it. It was such a different time and we all had to reinvent the wheel every season – that was how it worked. Editors and stores wanted it new every three to six months. It was crazy and super fun.
Hiro Clark was a response to that time in my life. Social media changed everything. I wanted to focus on just essentials and not be on a schedule of reinvention all of the time. High quality, simple, and really wearable 24/7. It’s almost a uniform mentality.
How does being based in LA affect the creative identity of Hiro Clark? Do you pull any inspiration from the city?
Hiro Clark started as a brand for people who love LA but also for people who love the idea of L.A. That was my vibe from day one. I wanted to celebrate a side of LA that people in places like New York would embrace: dark, gritty, old Hollywood, surf and skate. Less technicolor smiles and more dramatic black and white.
Your core collection consists of mostly neutrals, what’s the inspiration behind those colorways, and does it feel differently when you work with styles that have more color?
Guys are creatures of habit. And we love our black, white, navy and grey. Most guys’ closets are going to feature those four colors. It’s what we wear. But let’s be honest, when that West Coast sun is shining down in May, who doesn’t want some color? It’s okay to smile once in a while. Ha.
What kind of audience do you create for/who do you have in mind when creating your collection? Is there anyone you would be most excited to dress in your pieces?
We’re clothes for guys. T-shirts should be soft but sturdy. I like the guy that can just pick it up off the floor, see if it smells clean, and throws it on. Wham, bam, out the door.
Would you ever consider any collaborations in the future? If so, what kind of qualities would you look for in another brand/company to create with them?
The entire collaboration scene has evolved so much in the last few years. There are SO MANY collaborations out there. We love working with other people and brands outside of tees and clothing. I think the challenge now is the product. Every collaboration has the best of intentions. But if the product isn’t truly unique, it’s not going to resonate and stand out. There needs to be more than intention. And that can manifest itself in the product, the experience, the story – there has to be more than just two interesting brands saying “Hey, we’re working together."
What draws you towards using black-and-white imagery in a lot of your campaigns?
It’s so clean and classic. Old Hollywood. Dark and light. And honestly, with all the content and filters, the black and white stands out with its simplicity.
Hiro Clark gives off this classic “Americana” vibe. Are there any Old Hollywood stars you’re inspired by?
We love our leading men, but I’m drawn to the fallen star stories more than anything else. Sal Mineo, Ramon Navarro, Sharon Tate.
What makes a Hiro Clark T-Shirt perfect?
I’d like to think it’s the fit. I know there are a million t-shirt options out there. And everybody claims to be the perfect tee. Of course, there are so many different ways to get to that result. I generally find that cheaper tees are constructed badly and do not fit well. So I’ve spent years trying to ensure that our tees are actually A+ and not just ‘A for effort.’
From the first Hiro Clark collection to now, how has Hiro Clark evolved? What have you learned since releasing the very first T-shirt?
That’s something I think about all the time. Mostly just to remind myself that it’s evolving every day. When you’re in it, you don’t really see the changes. But oh yes, it’s grown up so fast.
Honestly, the world has changed more than our t-shirts. Like so many other people, we’re just trying to roll with it. We started in a place where people were like, ‘Who is going to want to wear t-shirts all the time?’ to ‘Who doesn’t wear t-shirts all the time?’ It’s been a wild ride.
Is there anything you’re looking forward to– professionally, or just for fun?
We are growing faster and faster, so it’s all hands on deck. That is super exciting. I love working on this project, so seeing all of the work transform into something that I can actually see is the feeling of the year. And with that said, get ready for all kinds of surprises this year. It’s going to get nutty.