Thomas Hart is a multi-disciplinary creator who works as a textile designer under the label Hart & Hive. His roots are in rural Alberta but he’s been a force in Toronto’s design scene since 2012. His inspiration comes from found objects, vintage styles, and Toronto’s urban landscape which he uses to handcraft bespoke fashion accessories, clothing, and objects for the home. His formal training in furniture design influences his conceptualization and construction of clothing and accessories. Hart believes that longevity is a tenet of sustainability and each item made in his studio uses high quality, and often reclaimed, materials that are assembled with time honoured techniques. These practices are expressions of artistry and Hart & Hive’s commitment to reducing environmental degradation.
Hart’s personal style is eclectic with retro influences and an affinity for bold colours, patterns, and textures. He is pulled towards the outrageous, often donning highly accessorized outfits (such as a fish-tank heeled shoes or a literal crown) and designs his fashion pieces for people with the wonderment of self expression through wearable art. Hart lives to defy expectation, notably the constraints of gendered fashion. Hart & Hive is not a brand for the average man or woman; it’s a brand for extraordinary people. Hart’s pieces will appeal to those looking for a brand that pushes boundaries and reconstructs what is considered bold and beautiful. “I refuse to allow fashion marketers to dictate which side of the store, under which drop down menu, or on what types of bodies my designs are best suited”, Hart says from his downtown studio (dressed in your mother’s 1980s blazer, looking effortlessly stylish and fresh).
The beauty in Harts’ creations run deep and his penchant for finding and creating beauty comes from a cocktail of experiences, personality traits, and opportunities. Each piece – from a gaudy leather tassel keychain to a wool and leather weekender bag with sculpted wood handles – Hart works by hand to design, cut, stitch, weave, dye, model, and photograph his work. Bespoke craftsmanship means that each piece is unique, celebrating the little irregularities of old world craftsmanship. Hart explains,
“Many of us have at least one antique that was passed down from a loved one and we cherish these items because they connect us to those who came before us. We can imagine our grandmother using her silver mirror, admiring the delicacy of the engravings, and the weight of it in her hand. When we hold it we feel as though part of her is contained within those silver borders. Something similar happens when an item is made by hand, by the person who conceived and designed it. I spend countless hours selecting materials, cutting patterns, assembling and stitching by hand. I see the project from beginning to end and throughout the process a part of me is sewn into the very fabric of my creations. I think those who take my pieces home can sense that and that’s why they seek out my work. When I cherish my craft like this it leads to you cherishing your duffle bag and one day wanting to pass it on to someone you love. That is how heirlooms are created and I like to think I’m in the business of creating heirlooms. Thank goodness fashion is cyclical!”