In Conversation with Tommy Harvey: On Found Family and Working with Converse

Tommy Harvey is a London-based designer, we talk about all things fashion, found family and his most recent campaign with Converse. 

What was it like working with an iconic brand like Converse? 

It was actually so much fun! It was like my first time working with a big brand. We hear all these stories about collaborating with big corporate brands but I had a great experience. The team was so welcoming, and approachable and answered like 101 questions, just super helpful. We were constantly on Zoom and talking a lot and sharing ideas. I think because of like the team, it just felt like a really normal friendly experience. 

How do you approach designing your collections?

The last collection started with my friends and anyone I work with, checking magazines and socials. Literally, even in the group chats, we’ll be sending pics like: “Oh, my God, look at what this person’s like what this person is wearing in the club”, that kind of stuff. That’s basically just how the mood board really starts. 

It’s a mix of, of the kinds of things we see applied to things that we see in clubs, and then just any kind of cute moments, musical moments that we’re also interested in as well. We kind of just vibe and kind of get inspired by that. So that’s typically how the collections start. 

I think this time around with this next collection that I’m working on there’s been a shift.  I’ve been a recluse for the last two years. Most of us have obviously because of COVID. Like I’ve literally only this year just about got comfortable. Again, going back out in the clubs, but also travelling again and that’s been really that’s always been something that’s quite important to me. I’ve travelled a bit this year.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

One of the big or key inspirations I think this time around was my trip to New York because there was just kind of next level of vibe in the community. I was just like gagged by everybody and everything and it was a moment. So I think that’s where a lot of the kind of inspiration is coming from. We went to like some of the balls, we went to some like downtown deep like techno queer spaces. I’m actively trying to make sure that I’m in spaces and support spaces that are like, supportive of me. And so naturally, that’s where a lot of the inspiration and conversations and moments happen.

Queer people set trends, period. I think what’s been so interesting, kind of crazy to watch is how queer people have claimed this street aesthetic and fucked it all up, like kind of switched on its head. I found that a lot of what’s happening right now it’s kind of like, like a melting pot of, you know, what straight men would typically wear and how some of my queer friends are mixing and merging that with a femme aesthetic. I think it’s so beautiful and chaotic. 

The Converse Pride campaign is all around “Found Families”, how has your chosen family impacted the way that you think about the pieces you design? 

I have a close friend that does a lot of the graphics and they’re also working on this collection including the logos. I like to change the logo every time I make a collection and so I work a lot of the time with my friends. Jordan who is also a part of the “ found family” works in music, so he’s constantly introducing me to like new sounds, which also work hand in hand. 

I think I did discuss this in one of the campaigns that just it feels like we have really created this space where we are like best friends, but also just naturally, constantly collaborating, whether that’s like, subconsciously or not, we’re just we’re kind of just constantly rubbing things off of each other. 

And then you don’t ever realise that until later on. I’m like, Oh my gosh, or, like this is where that’s come from or that’s what that is like that’s where they actually get a lot of that does come from, you know, being in these spaces with your friends with my family.

Why is having a “Found Family” important as a LGBTQ+ person? 

I think you don’t sit and reflect with your friends on the importance of the relationship. I think in doing these last couple projects with Converse, we actually were able to have those moments more intently, where we just started and just, you know, reminisce and thought about like, where we were before we met and like where we are now and kind of the growth that has happened, the kind of moments that have happened within this finding so much has changed, we’ve changed or we kind of have grown more into our identities.

I think that is super important because for a lot of us, and I don’t mean just my friends I mean for a lot of queer people. It’s sometimes a lot different but sometimes really difficult to identify with your family. I know that’s not for everybody but for a lot of us it’s very difficult to talk about the things you talk about with your you know, with your found family and or even just reflect on things the same way. So I think that’s been important for sanity for a lot of reasons, but also just for fun as well.

What’s next for you?

So the next collection is coming out, I’m not gonna say the date yet. The next election is just gonna be really fun. I think it’s going to be very different to what I’ve done before and but like all this growth that I’m talking about with you, you know, be with my friends that growth has also happened with me as a designer. There has been something that I have found quite comforting with that chaos that’s happened with not just fashion but also with a lot of things. It’s nice to finally be able to feel ready to put that in an outlet, I’m super, super happy. So yeah, just working on this on this new collection. 

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