Designer Heike Jarick’s Rise and New Fashionable Fall
It is one of the coldest days of the season so far here in New York. As I continuously swipe my scarf out of my face to see oncoming traffic, I find myself mentally changing hats from friend to interviewer. Occasionally flipping up the collar of one of my favorite coats, I am constantly reminded of my task at hand as I see the label. It was designed by the women I am in route to interview, fashion designer Heike Jarick.
Born in Marburg, Germany, a countryside town north of Frankfurt, Heike Jarick shares that there was nothing particularly spectacular about her childhood. Laughing, she says she wanted to leave Marburg as quickly as she could. Born into what is considered a traditional household, she is the oldest sibling between her and her brother. A family of very little means, Heike found entertainment by taking long walks to enjoy the beauty of nature.
Painting her childhood to be rather drab and lacking amusement, I was curious to know what made her want to pursue a career in fashion design. With no fashion houses or townspeople walking around in high-end, luxury pieces, how exactly did Heike find fashion or vice versa?
“Fashion was always my first love,” she explains. “I spent a great deal of time with my grandmother. She made clothes during WWII. She particularly enjoyed working with fur whenever she got the opportunity. She influenced me,and I learned a lot from her.”
She added, “I also learned a lot from my mother. She sewed as well.”
While fashion may have been her passion for as early as she can remember, that didn’t mean that her parents were willing to allow this course of study. In fact, her father was rather insistent that she go into an academic career field. Thus, she first attended the University of Hamburg and began taking up Latin studies.
One to have a plan, Heike wasn’t going to give up on her dream of becoming a designer. After her stint at the University of Hamburg, she transferred to Fachhochshule, or University of Applied Sciences (UAS). Fachhochshule, also located in Germany, is recognized more as an educational facility for those that are interested in fields of study such as engineering, technology, and business. It would be there where Heike began taking drawing courses.
Although adamant about their daughter making the right career decisions, it was obvious that the headstrong young lady began to wear her parents down — her mother, at least. With that, Heike transferred to the prestigious Central Saint Martins in London, England, which is a constituent college of the University of the Arts London.
Some of the most iconic names in fashion are CSM alumni. Some of these talents include Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton, Stella McCartney, Zac Posen, and John Galliano. In fact, Galliano apparently attended CSM while Heike was there.
Heike didn’t take any classes with Galliano because she says, “He was going for his bachelors, and I was going for my masters.”
Still, she says she saw would see him all the time. “He looks nothing like he used to then. He was somewhat shy and kinda dorky looking. He wore glasses.”
Although Heike did not know Galliano, she said she did know the talented late designer John Flett, who died at age 27. Galliano was quoted as saying that Flett was the “love of my life.”
Jarick may not be a household name like Galliano, but that doesn’t mean that she hasn’t accomplished some pretty impressive feats. She interned on Saville Row before graduating with honors from Central Saint Martins.
After completing her studies, Heike moved to Milan and was hired as part of the design teams for labels Soprani, Krizia, and Trussardi. It took no time she came to realize that men dominated the industry, even when it came to designing women’s wear. She often expressed her frustrations to colleagues, frustrations that in many ways have hardened her.
“Fashion is a fighting industry,” she says. “You have to stand firmly for what you believe. You also have to know how to say no. This industry has a way of running over people that are too kind.”
In 1994, Jarick made the decision to move to New York. At this point, she’s had a taste of two fashion capitals of the world: London and Milan. She decided, “Why not take a bite out of the third, New York?” Her first job in the states would be at Anne Klein & Co. She worked under chief designer Richard Tyler. Her time with Tyler in command would not be for long. Tyler, who was named designer of the year by the CFDA the year before, split with Anne Klein after 19 months (three seasons). The relationship was reportedly dissolved due to creative differences. Jarick, however, remained with the company until 1996.
By 2000, Heike was already comfortable with her design aesthetic. She has always appreciated both heavily structured pieces, as well as ones that drape the body nicely while having fluidity. She was ultimately brought on as design director at S.Rothschild LTD, one of the world’s largest and longest running manufacturing companies). Founded in 1881, Rothschild is the proprietor for several brands with top tier licensing contracts for brands such as French Connection, Rachel Roy, Sean John, and Derek Lam.
Heike was responsible for launching the coat and outerwear collection for Via Spiga. She was one of the driving factors in growing DKNY coats and outerwear to a 20 million dollar business. When it comes to designing a coat, there are very few as skilled as Jarick in the business.
In 2002, the designer launched the HEIKEJARICK line, a luxury brand that is inspired by contemporary art, music and architecture, namely Bauhaus theory. Soft leathers and fine wools are carefully constructed creating bold and supremely fashionable looks, along with intense silhouettes.
In 2015 she created HEIKE, an advanced contemporary brand. The HEIKE Collection differs from HJ in a major way. For starters, the lines of the garments are much softer. There is also a gender-less appeal to it. Tailored but loosely cut trousers and shorts, asymmetrical vest with silk organza detailing, and structured trench coats made of a gauze like mesh have been huge statements of the brand. There is also a Streetwear element to it. Both men and women appreciate the brand, and wears it loyally.
A stylist who was working with Halle Berry for an editorial pulled from Heike’s showroom for the project. Berry loved the pieces so much that she purchased them all and even sent the designer a thank-you note. Berry was the A-List celebrity to wear Jarick’s pieces. Since then , the brand has been showcased in international fashion magazines and worn by celebrity clients like Kate Hudson, Shakira and Mandy Moore.
Becoming more popular and having to design two different brands with an abundance of pieces in each one can be a daunting task. For a while, things seemed to be going okay, until it wasn’t. That certain challenge that almost every company has had to endure had befallen her brand: Consumers demand change, the saturation of the market with competitive brands, and quite simply, the change of an industry itself. The dot com market began to boom. Brick and mortar retailers were impacted greatly, which means that wholesalers were affected too. Heike’s company would be one of those that suffered.
The fire that once burned inside her was now becoming extinguished by fear, baked in a fresh pie called “debt,” lots of debt. She was about ready to yield to her circumstances. With the reassurance of her husband, however, Heike began reshaping her company in order to survive in a now fickle market. She was not about to allow 25 years to go up in flames without a fight.
She has always been known for her coat and outerwear business. It was her company’s driving force. Thus, she decided to focus on these type pieces only for her fall-winter collections. The spring-summer collections would be condensed greatly.
By reducing the amount of pieces, Heike would be able to save a great deal of money on production costs. “My spring collections normally were made up of 18 to 20 looks,” she said. “I will now be designing only 10 to 12 pieces, only key pieces.”
Numerous rolls of fabric lay under the pattern-making table in her showroom, which she says is “somewhere in the thousands.” Not all of these expensive reams of fabric are necessarily appropriate for the fall-winter season. Heike has decided to manipulate and infuse them with heavier fabrics. The outcome would be a new textile only available from her. Garments created with this new material will be exclusive and made to order.
Though her collections are still available in a small but well-rounded group of specialty stores, Heike has chosen to focus of having pop-up shops. She is also available by appointment.
Her pieces will be on exclusive display from Dec. 7 -9 at Gallery Eight in New York.