By Helen Siwak
In a 3,000-square-foot space off Main Street in Vancouver, formerly occupied by Kit & Ace, Raif Adelberg leads the operations of his latest venture - HERMAN Market. From concept to completion, every item of his unisex luxury streetwear collection is now shipped from this Vancouver-based location directly to online customers and 30+ international stockists in countries including Lebanon, Qatar, Italy, and Korea.
While many brands’ claims of creating ‘luxury streetwear’ are based on inflated pricing generated by marketing hype and celebrity, Adelberg is known for his ability to elevate streetwear to a level of luxury through the careful selection of fabrics and trims and by incorporating hand-spun, hand-knit cashmere into many pieces. By incorporating exquisite fabrics and high-end cuts into the line, HERMAN pieces are distinct and unique to the market.
The recent decision to exit the traditional fashion marketing model to a vertically integrated one saw the brand sever ties with its international agency, close its Italian showroom, and pull all production back to Vancouver.
Unlike luxury fashion houses like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Gucci, who are all racing to embrace digital by partnering with multi-brand sites and various popular streaming options, HERMAN Market is using Canadian-developed e-commerce platform Shopify exclusively to reach their market.
Citing the drastic change in traditional wholesale and the distinct cultural shift with buyers, Adelberg’s luxury street brand is focusing on D2C. Not only for the obvious upside on margins but also in consideration of online shopping habits, instant customer gratification via click through, and how Shopify allows them to aggregate and curate their online store.
With design and production under the same roof, when a new garment is completed, staff photograph it, and within hours it is available online with social media promotion. By controlling the online experience, Adelberg’s team controls the brand's image - how the product is presented, sold, and shipped. Before the shift to focus on e-commerce, the company was responsible for shipping costs, taxes and tariffs on every garment, going forward all garments sold online, and not through bricks-and-mortar retail locations, have the shipping costs become the responsibility of the customer.
HERMAN Market is ideally suited for vertical integration as the collections are smaller, more artisanal, one-off’s are bespoke, and all very individualistic. Staff are highly trained in multiple aspects of production, are paid a living wage with benefits, and work directly with Adelberg who has built his professional and creative reputation by being incredibly hands-on.
Adelberg is repeatedly cited as a major influencer in streetwear trends for almost 30 years by respected fashion and culture publications. He opened his first Vancouver location in 1994 (Biggy), in 1997 launched TwentyFour which grew into 3 locations (4th Avenue, Yaletown, Gastown), and from 2002 to 2007 his 6,000-square-foot Richard Kidd lifestyle boutique ruled Gastown. With luxury labels like Comme des Garçons, Alexander McQueen, and Martin Margiela hanging next to vintage AC/DC rocker t-shirts and reworked silkscreened jackets by Libertine, the incredible cathedral-like space now houses John Fluevog Shoes.
The past decade has Adelberg partnered with industry forces such as Stussy (skatewear) and Buscemi (footwear), the ‘behind the scenes’ force launching Herschel Supply Co., and co-founding Canadian contemporary men’s wear label wings+horns.
While the traditional luxury market of brands with 100+ year pedigrees has been slow to adopt e-commerce, fledgling luxury streetwear brand HERMAN Market is diving in due in no small part to having a trend visionary at the helm. Raif Adelberg has played by his own rules his whole life and has cultivated a loyal and dedicated following which includes hip-hop trio Migos, fashion entrepreneur Heidi Klum, and mega-performers Justin Bieber and Rihanna.
Helen Siwak is the publisher of EcoLuxLuv.com Magazine, a freelance content creator specializing in retail and luxury lifestyle. She is a regular content contributor to Boulevard Vancouver (English & Chinese), Retail-Insider, BLUSH Vancouver, and has lifestyle blogged for StyleDemocracy and Daily Hive. When not writing, she is attending fashion events, traveling, and advocating for animal/human rights. firstname.lastname@example.org.