A Closer Look: H. Lorenzo
A Closer Look: H. Lorenzo
- Words Mat Ferraro
- Date June 22, 2017
Rumor has it that he speaks 10 languages and has backpacked around the world. In the early 2000s, when Raf Simons was the dominant force in menswear, he stockpiled "Virginia Creeper" and "Consumed" in their entirety and stashed them in a warehouse in LA’s Koreatown neighborhood. From working with Julius, Takashi Murakami and the Chinese government, his collaboration roster is extraordinarily diverse. Welcome to the mysterious world of Lorenzo Hadar.
With over 35 years of experience in the fashion industry, Lorenzo has cemented the H. Lorenzo brand as one of the most cutting-edge chain of boutiques in Los Angeles. With men’s collections split amongst three stores in Los Angeles, each conveying a unique feel and experience, H. Lorenzo rivals legendary select shops like Paris' L'eclaireur and Darklands in Berlin. The main store on Sunset Plaza houses the majority of the menswear pieces, focusing on cult brands like Boris Bidjan Saberi, Guidi and the full range of Comme Des Garçons and its sub-brands. Not far from the main store is H.L.N.R., commonly dubbed “Robertson,” which highlights younger, emerging designers and places a strong emphasis on streetwear. Boasting no publicity or phone, H. Lorenzo’s discreet third location contains various handpicked pieces from Lorenzo’s personal archive, which have been collected and stored throughout his entire career.
Photos by Paige Fishman
Located at 8648 W. Sunset Blvd on Sunset Plaza, the outside of H. Lorenzo’s menswear store is surprisingly unassuming; the inside, however, is a different story. Designed in 2001 by renowned Italian architect Oliviero Baldini, the open space feels like a labyrinth of sorts, full of both permanent and concept spaces. When you first walk through the front door, the dichotomy between light and dark strikes you immediately: light from the upper level cascaded down the large, metal steps in the center of the store, illuminating the meticulously-positioned racks on the concrete floor. On each side of the staircase sit two symmetrical racks, hanging on intricate metal wires attached to the vaulted ceiling. On the left side, the racks contained pieces from Greg Lauren and By Walid, promoting a handmade, deconstructed and embroidered aesthetic. On the right, the racks emanated a slightly more menswear-focused air, featuring pieces from Junya Watanabe and Jan-Jan Van-Essche.
Perched high above the store is a smaller space which overlooks the main room. Although it’s only reachable by the large, metal staircase, it doesn’t feel separate from the rest of the store at all. During a recent visit, it contained a mix of brands, though this space has also been used as a malleable concept area to showcase collaborations. For example, roughly 5 years ago, it was converted into a full Julius store.
While wandering through the large main room, a bare white wall peeked out through an open archway. The all-white room was a stark departure from the plaster and concrete of the main area. Spread out across the long, high wall were four pieces hanging from the ceiling on large hooks, made out of a seemingly translucent material and featured bright red stitching. In this room, Matthew Kavanagh, H. Lorenzo’s Head of Social Media and Brand Direction, was patiently waiting, admiring his stark surroundings. Sporting Attachment and Ganryu, two brands he wears almost exclusively, Matthew’s style reflected the overarching aesthetic of H. Lorenzo: detail-oriented and understated, yet devoted to individuality and expression. He pointed out that the hanging garments were crafted from used car airbags by KANGHYUK, an emerging designer from South Korea. The passion in his voice was clear as he explained that the room in which we were standing was frequently used as an exhibit space. Before showing the inaugural works of KANGHYUK, the space saw a collaboration with Dongliang, a conglomerate based in China. “They are an accumulation of some of the up-and-coming brands from Shanghai,” he said. “We partnered with them and showcased a bunch of different designers in this room, like Angel Chen, Xiao Li, Museum of Friendship, Ziggy Chen, and Uma Wang. A lot of people don’t associate ‘designer’ with being made in China, but now in Shanghai because of the design renaissance, they are having all of these really great textile mills, and the tailoring is amazing.”
Heading back towards the main room, a second staircase appears, this one leading downstairs. Matthew explained that while it used to be a stockroom, it eventually became part of the shop proper. The raw, unfinished feel of the basement clashed entirely with the clean-cut and calculated finish upstairs. The basement mostly holds past season and sale clothes but is occasionally used as an extra space for pop-up shops—Kapital’s S/S 17 wares were featured here earlier this year.
In addition to offering tried-and-true designer brands like Ann Demeulemeester and Haider Ackermann, H. Lorenzo is extremely devoted to helping emerging designers gain exposure. Straying away from commonplace designer brands like Chanel and Saint Laurent, H. Lorenzo aims to carry underground collections that can’t be found anywhere else in Los Angeles. As Matthew puts it, H. Lorenzo shoots for “the really cool stuff that when you touch and feel it there’s quality–obviously something behind it.”
Throughout his career, Lorenzo has stored clothing that piqued his interest in a warehouse. Each year, he has set up a pop-up tent in the parking lot behind the main store, where certain archive pieces are available for purchase. But with the recent public interest in archival fashion, he decided to open a permanent location to display and sell some of the key items from his vast collection. Located in LA’s trendy Downtown Arts District, the 5,000 square-foot warehouse contains roughly 100 designers and several hundred pieces. Spanning a wide range of decades, designers and styles, the archive feels a lot more like a hidden museum than a store—there is no sign or telephone, but the address is 835 W. 3rd Street, so definitely drop by if you’re in the area. It’s absoutely worth the trip.
Not far from the Sunset store, H. Lorenzo’s third and final space definitely feels more aggressive than its siblings. Also designed by Oliviero Baldini, the Robertson space, nicknamed after its location at 474 N. Robertson, displays many thematic similarities with its Sunset counterpart. The large metal panels jutting off the top of the building, however, exude a badass, almost militaristic vibe, which quite literally assails any passerby—something that simply was not present at either of the other ostensibly non-descript locations. Inside the store, the mix of items felt significantly more eclectic. Glass display cases filled with exclusive Takashi Murakami sculptures complemented the Nobuyoshi Araki photograph that hung above the register. In addition to offbeat art and accessories, the clothing collections also felt disconnected, which added to the overall flow of the store. Intricate, hand-sewn goods by Selfmade hung on the same rack as mass-produced Yeezy pieces and hats by 99%IS, a punk-centered street brand out of Seoul. Central to the Robertson location is a tiered platform in the middle of the space, which divides men’s and women’s collection. Arguably the more impressive of the two, Lorenzo’s womenswear selection is superb, ranging from UNDERCOVER to Marques Almeida and Phoebe English. Returning to the entryway, footwear—a mix of men’s and women’s styles—are neatly situated on each level of the platform, so you can comfortably sit while trying on a pair of $2000 Augusta shoes.
From Kapital to KANGHYUK and everything in between, H. Lorenzo encapsulates so many different aesthetics that it’s nearly impossible to find something that doesn’t work with your wardrobe. The handpicked and curated feel of each store is truly remarkable. Complementing the insane collection of garments, the staff at H. Lorenzo is a microcosm of what the fashion community should aim to be: open-minded, passionate, approachable and extremely knowledgeable. If you’re ever in Los Angeles, I highly recommend stopping by any of the stores for an unparalleled shopping experience.