An Interview With the Creators of the Best White Shirt: Harris Tapper
Sophisticated tailoring meets everyday wearability with Harris Tapper. We chat to the founders dreaming up the best white shirt I’ve ever had the pleasure to own.
18 JUN - 2021
Harris Tapper is a household name amongst all that love a good white shirt and tailored black slacks.
The story is quintessential fashion. The stylist duo, Sarah Harris Gould and Lauren Tapper, met while working together at a global clothing brand. Gould with experience in buying and brand management and Tapper’s eye for design and PR, it was a match made in tailoring heaven.
Between meetings and launching a new collection, we pick the brains of Harris Gould and Tapper
How did Harris Tapper form? Was there an instant connection while working together?
We had worked together previously and noticed there was a gap in the market at the time for high quality women's shirting. Something that was directional and creative but wasn’t an exuberant price point or at the fast fashion end of the spectrum. Since then Harris Tapper has grown to full collections.
What has it been like working as a duo? Are the highs higher and the lows lower? How do you resolve conflict and disagreements? Or do you always have shared goals?
Sharing a business together feels natural because we have been working together for so long now. We have big, global goals and have had these since the very first conversation. Our working relationship is based on mutual trust and respect; we both understand each other. On the rare occasion we disagree, if one of us feels strongly for something, the other respects that.
What challenges financially and logistically did you have when setting up HT and how did you resolve them?
Tax is a challenge! Hire a good accountant.
Sarah, what do you love most about Lauren?
Her drive and her eye. I trust her completely when it comes to creative direction. She also reminds me to stop and celebrate the wins which is something I’m working on!
Lauren, what do you love most about Sarah?
She has a very strong sense of self and is incredibly poised, yet authentic and genuine. She’s the most driven person I know and I’m lucky to work with someone who dreams so big.
Lauren, where do you get your inspiration from, both personally and for your designs?
Together we talk about the direction or energy we want the collection to feel like, and then pull inspiration from many different mediums – films and art usually. Art and design has always been a big inspiration for us and we often look to female artists and creatives, but at the end of the day it comes down to what we feel our woman needs from her wardrobe. For me personally, I love films. My favourites change all the time, but right now I love La Piscine, a 1969 thriller starring Romy Schneider and Alain Delon.
What is the key to ensuring that each collection has its own identity, yet sits under the Harris Tapper umbrella?
In all honesty, it’s based on a feeling. If it feels right then we go with it, that’s the only way to ensure authenticity.
What is your all time favourite piece from any Harris Tapper collection and why?
Lauren: The Kate Shirt. I wear it most days. Our foundation is in shirting and we both feel it’s the cornerstone of a modern wardrobe.
Sarah: The Marta Trouser. It’s the perfect fit and the fabric is so durable.
Your wardrobe essentials are?
Lauren: A steamer
Sarah: A good black suit.
How would you describe your personal style and how does this translate into the brand?
Lauren: I guess I would describe my style as very minimal and classic. I love wearing great tailoring and shirting, and mostly dress in black and white.
Sarah: I love everything a touch oversized and this is something you can see in our tailoring.
If you could invest in any fashion piece, regardless of the cost, what would it be?
Lauren: Not to wear, but just to collect - I’d love a piece of fashion history, like a McQueen dress from the last full collection by Lee, Plato's Atlantis.
Sarah: The iconic double-trench by Phoebe Philo for Celine for Spring-Summer 2018.
Running a business during multiple lockdowns has been difficult for many, what has your pivot looked like? What have you learnt from this time? Was it difficult working away from each other?
We ensured strong communication throughout the business during lockdowns so it wasn’t challenging to be apart from each other. We have learnt so many different things but most of all we learnt that we have a very loyal New Zealand customer base and we are so grateful for them.
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.
Where to from now? What can we expect from Harris Tapper in the future?
We have just launched a pop-up in Auckland until the end of May alongside a new collection and we will be launching into the UK with Harrods in July which we’re really excited about.
Quick Fire Questions:
Plain or Print?
Tailored or Oversized?
L: Oversized tailoring
New or Vintage?
L: Vintage menswear, new womenswear
S: Vintage with a touch of new.
Top travel location?
L: I would love to visit Japan.
S: Missing London.
S: Daphnes Taverna and Pici.
Summer or Winter?
Are you a morning or evening person?
L: Slowly becoming a morning person
S: Definitely morning.
Best way to wind down?
L: Cooking a meal
S: Definitely not cooking a meal. Meditation or a candle-lit shower.
Kitten heels or chunky platform?
L: Neither. Flats – loafers or brogues.
Best app on your phone?