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New Menswear Label Hiro Clark Explores the Dark Side of LA

Photos: John Arsenault
Photos: John Arsenault

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LA is quintessentially known for its sunny disposition thanks to picturesque stretches of sandy beaches, palm tree-lined streets, and endless sunshine. But, the City of Angels has an unexplored dark side, too. When menswear designer Andy Salzer ditched New York and moved to LA, it was that very dark side that inspired Hiro Clark, his recently launched line of t-shirts for laid-back dudes.

In a city where casual attire is the norm and t-shirts are pretty much an all-day, everyday uniform, Salzer set out to make the menswear staple truly special. In addition to Hiro Clark's core black and white crew neck mainstays ($78), the label will also regularly roll out limited edition printed t-shirts ($128) emblazoned with dreamy visuals that tap into LA's shadowy side. And when we say limited, we mean really limited. Only 12 shirts of each design is released. Once it sells out, it's on to the next one.

With such a unique approach to menswear and cool perspective of LA, we wanted to know more about Hiro Clark. We caught up with Salzer to find out what prompted his big move to the West Coast, why he finds LA's dark side so enchanting, and more. —Additional reporting by Danielle Directo-Meston

What inspired you to decamp to LA?
Why does anyone come to Los Angeles? We're all searching for something. Los Angeles is a great place to get clarity and think through your next steps. The beach, the weather, the super laid-back day to day—there's something inherently healing about this place. A friend always likens Los Angeles to a warm bath: It's warm and soothing and you just want to stay in that tub. That can be pretty enchanting.

You mentioned that you saw a darker side of LA when you arrived. Can you describe where you were and what that experience was like?
On the surface, Los Angeles is all glory and sunshine. That's what pulls you in. But once I got here, I started to scratch away at that glossy, shiny shell. Once you start exploring the shadows and move away from the spotlight, there's so much more to see: cruising the side streets, peering behind overgrown hedges, wandering empty beaches. The brighter the light, the darker the shadow. You can't have one without the other.

You went from designing a full menswear line to basics. What inspired the switch?
I looked closely at my own closet. And I spent a lot of time just listening to what guys were looking for—something special, something you could wear every day but not see everywhere. Nobody wants more of the same. I opted to focus my energy on doing one item incredibly well and that's what brought me to the t-shirt. It's a menswear staple that's so often overlooked. In a city like Los Angeles, we live in t-shirts. After years of refitting, washing, sampling, and resampling, here we are.

Where are a few of your favorite spots in LA to find inspiration?
Oh, man. There are so many. More than anything, Hiro Clark is about seeing Los Angeles differently. There's a kind of impossibility about this city. It shouldn't really exist, but it does. We keep referring to it as 'Lost Angeles'.
· Hiro Clark [Official Site]