Founded in 2017 by New Zealand Creatives Lauren Tapper and Sarah Harris Gould, the brand has quickly progressed from a tight range of women’s shirting into full womenswear collections. Intentionally designed to take the guesswork out of getting dressed every day, their designs have caught the eye and appreciation of women around the world who are looking to build upon their wardrobe of refined classics.
To celebrate the launch of Harris Tapper on The UNDONE, we spoke with Lauren and Sarah about their experience building a brand, the role their pieces play in the modern woman's wardrobe, and their personal style journey's.
We would love to know more about you both, where did you grow up, what did you study, and what life experiences do you think have made the biggest impact on where you are now?
Sarah Harris Gould [SHG]:
I grew up in Auckland, New Zealand and studied design in Wellington then moved to London for several years. I grew up in a family where the roles of both parents in the home and workplace were equal. This experience has shaped my perspective and has hence informed our work with Harris Tapper. My great-grandmother was a solo mother of six and the first woman in Australasia to apply for and receive child support from my great-grandfather. From the outset Harris Tapper has always been about championing women in their careers, serving their busy, multi-faceted lives and making those lives easier by offering a refined solution to professional outfitting.
Lauren Tapper [LT]:
I am from a rural area just north of Auckland. I loved fashion from an early age. I grew up as websites started to become part of mainstream culture, so our access to imagery and content evolved with my love for clothing. The glamourous, magnetic imagery I was seeing through magazines and later websites like Vogue, Bazaar, style.com etc., were so out of context and different to the life I was living – which made me love it all the more. I went then went on to study Fashion Design at university and worked in various parts of the industry such as Public Relations and Merchandising, before meeting Sarah and starting Harris Tapper. I’ve always loved beautiful things (usually at a contrast to my surroundings) which I think has driven my point of view and direction with our work, our intention is to make beautiful, well proportioned, luxurious product that serves rather than dictates to women in their individual lives.
You met each other while both working for a large global fashion business, what were the biggest learnings you took away from this experience and what did you want to do differently with your own label?
SHG: I worked as a Buyer in London which gave me a global perspective and I think a commercial sensibility that I’ve carried with me into Harris Tapper. Throughout my work experience I have had terrible and incredible bosses; it’s taught me the kind of leader I want to be – and the kind I don’t.
Working on such a global scale gave us an insight into how a business can grow to service many different regions and types of customers whilst also remaining true to the brand values and identity set out in the beginning. We worked for a ‘faster fashion’ brand and obviously approach our own work as design-lead, releasing clothing in seasonal outfitting rather than new product 52+ times per year. We want every single product we release to be perfect, carrying the same thought and intelligence we know the women who wear our clothes embody themselves.
Since launching in 2017 how has the brand evolved from focusing on shirting to now a full womenswear collection, where does it sit now and what is the role you envision Harris Tapper playing in our wardrobe.
SHG: We always saw shirting as the cornerstone of the modern, professional women’s wardrobe, and felt it was a category that had potential to grow whilst not being at the mercy of seasons. As the brand grew, the same women were asking for supplementing pieces that answered that need for professional clothing with an understated, easy elegance and sophistication.
With every collection we take those same core principles from the very first shirt to every range released now. We’ve always offered sartorial choices to serve the modern, professional life, in turn hopefully making the wearer’s life easier – because isn’t that the definition of luxury? Life being easier? We envision Harris Tapper taking the guesswork out of getting dressed every day.
What has been a pivotal moment for the brand over the last six years?
Being stocked in Harrods was a surreal moment for us, but our favorite is always seeing someone wear a piece on the street, in a workplace, at school pickup – seeing the women who purchase and wear our garments in their own unique way drives us to continue.
How do you both split your roles in the business and what do you enjoy the most day to day?
SHG: Lauren leads the design and product side, and I the sales and business side. It’s become such a harmonious partnership which fulfills us both. For someone who studied and began their career as a designer, I’ve become more and more commercially minded over the years and really enjoy getting into the financial arm of the business.
LT: I enjoy small moments that give me joy. I love when we’re in a fitting for a new sample and I know it we’ve perfected a piece, making something beautiful that balances perfectly and feels right. I’m chasing that feeling every day.
We’re so excited to welcome Harris Tapper to our curated edit of like-minded brands that are focused on pieces we’ll have, love and wear for seasons to come. What have been your personal style journeys of arriving in this place of conscious and slow shopping habits?
SHG: I lived in London during the ‘it-girl’ hey-day (I still remember seeing Kate Moss sitting on the curb of Portobello Road, smoking a cigarette in an oversized fur) and this informed some of my earlier clothing choices, but I think now I dress for such a busy day that has so many different needs. I have two children and need to be realistic about what I’ll be doing, whilst still looking and feeling elevated and chic.
LT: I have become so much more focused on fit and proportion, only picking pieces for my own wardrobe which balance interesting cuts with premium fabrications. I’m incredibly picky now and barely shop – I think the answer to wardrobing (this is not a particularly new proposition), is to buy quality pieces from brands that are like minded and share your approach to life.
If you were to suggest one style of your range (from our edit) customers should invest in, where would you recommend they start?
LT: Irving Trousers. These are our best-selling trouser. They are cut on the bias and suit every single body shape, regardless of size.
SHG: Also, a blazer. We’ve become known for our suiting and we’ve spent years working closely with our patternmakers and fabric suppliers to get the perfect fit. The Sabrina Jacket is a slightly cropped style that perfectly balances the edge between neat fitting with a relaxed and easy sensibility.
How would you each describe your personal style?
SHG: I’m going to describe Lauren’s, it’s too hard to describe your own! Her style is uniform-based. She has a formula and will wear black and white almost every day and alternate between a well-proportioned t-shirt, tailored black trouser, oversized cotton Kantor Shirt, oversized blazer, clear-framed glasses and her black Prada brogues.
LT: Sarah’s style is harder to define – she’s a lot more courageous than me in what she wears! Usually heavy boots from The Row, either really oversized proportions or a thin 90’s suit dress. She always has lots of interesting jewelry – I love the Simone Rocha pearls she wears that look like little dangling ghosts.
What are 5 wardrobe essentials you couldn’t live without?
SHG: I’m never without a pair of black Irving Trousers in my wardrobe. Having two small children, versatility and durability are important to me right now and these trousers look chic but are also child-proof. Another two child-proof pieces are the Luke Legging and the Lulu Top, both made from a high quality black Ponte. So easy to wash and wear. I’m also looking forward to wearing the Hoppen Cardi as the nights start to get cooler, it’s made from the softest Alpaca yarn.
LT: A well-proportioned blazer, tailored trousers – take them to a dressmaker to ensure the fit is perfect. An oversized white cotton shirt is so easy to wear, I go from wearing a Kantor Shirt to the office to over my swimsuit at the beach. Every wardrobe should have a steamer! Easiest way to make any outfit look smarter.
Sarah Harris Gould
Co-founder and Director
Co-founder and Creative Director