by Stephen Garner

Heron Preston’s combined men’s and women’s spring/summer 2021 collection takes a forward- thinking-meets-back-to-the-basics approach, in both simplifying and evolving the unique identity the designer has honed since launching his label in early 2017.

With the challenges presented by COVID-19, Preston quickly realized—under mounting global anxiety— that he wanted to develop this collection in as streamlined a manner as possible, removing excess and examining his brand’s DNA. While he operated from Brooklyn and his design team worked in Milan, they virtually came to the essence of the Heron Preston line: workwear, sustainability, and motif-play (now employed in an abridged and clearer format).

“I looked at our best-performing pieces, and pieces that had become emblematic of what we do,” said Preston. “Even before COVID-19 hit, I felt that I was doing too much, too much, too much. This collection is smaller, with a greater focus on our core strengths.”

Ready-to-wear includes raw denim jackets and jeans, a consistently slouchy break on trousers, padded and pocketed parkas, patchwork denim, relaxed tailoring, and classic shirting that is now cut with triangular, open backs. Neutral colors and black-and-white tones are flanked by a focus on the color purple, which is washed and over-dyed to create a D-I-Y handmade vibe. For men, a hallmark look includes a knit amethyst-hued hoodie and icy lavender-dyed wide-leg trousers, which pool around the ankle. For women, purple denim jackets with natural tonal variations and plum-colored nylon blazers feature strongly.

Key, brand-coded accessories are also a focus. Hard-sided handbags—almost like drill kits or field-use computer cases—are included throughout the collection. These retain a utilitarian air, while another work-centric fixture, the spirit level, is integrated into women’s sandal heels and unisex sunglasses (made in collaboration with the Seoul-based brand Gentle Monster, with more details below). The outcome is a smoothened and rationalized boil-down of Heron Preston’s design pillars. His orange-tab logo is seen prominently throughout, though in perhaps subtler applications than in previous seasons.

Many pieces in Preston’s collection are produced with a green line-of-thought; sustainable practices have been a part of this designer’s mission since day one. Fleece and jersey pieces are made of 100 percent organic cotton, while activewear garments are knitted in a recycled nylon yarn. Women’s tailoring is finished in recycled polyester. Raw denim pieces add in a water-saving component. Even iPhone cases, which are included as part of the season’s accessories lineup, are made of biodegradable material. The brand remains 100 percent committed to using consciously selected materials, whenever possible.

This season’s collection also includes the brand’s second collaboration with construction equipment and apparel company Caterpillar. Preston visited the brand’s headquarters in Bozeman, Montana to work on this partnership, digging through the archives and adapting Caterpillar’s widely-recognized logo. He applied this marker to outerwear, specifically, including a cropped khaki anorak and a hooded car coat.

The spring/summer 2021 season also marks Heron Preston’s first collaboration with Gentle Monster, the Seoul, South Korea-based eyewear brand. Together, they created three models, which feature arms that hold miniaturized spirit levels (a signature piece of Preston’s workwear perspective).