Jakob Hetzer, the Young King of Cerebral Style

a man wearing a hat: The designer reveals how he dialed in his well-honed aesthetic.

© Christopher Fenimore
The designer reveals how he dialed in his well-honed aesthetic.

“You will encounter moments and times that will put dirt or even damage to your clothes. Let it happen. Make it happen,” reads Jakob Hetzer’s “Info” page on his website. This should give you a bit of insight into the kind of designer, and person, Hetzer is. A comb through his Instagram or blog should also suffice. As a society, we’ve come to overuse the word aesthetic, but Hetzer’s got a vise on his, and he has for a long time now. Moving around the world might do that to you.

Hetzer was born in Detroit, but grew up in Germany, and now resides in L.A. There’s a level of grit that comes with his style. Clothes are meant to be worn, and they’re meant to have utility. Hetzer has had his shoulder to this wheel for some time. He doesn’t write captions to accompany his photos, he just presents them without comment. He’s clued in on what has made the most interesting people in history interesting: an enigmatic existence. The less one knows, the better. That said, enigma isn’t everything. I’ve had my eye on Hetzer’s style for some time, so I sat down with him during his last trip to New York to discuss his brand, traveling, and a bit of what makes Jakob Hetzer Jakob Hetzer.

Tell me about your path to creating your eponymous label. What are the hallmarks of your brand, and how do you think it stands in the face of the current fashion landscape?

My brand started quite naturally in 2014 with me creating clothes and it’s been a living and learning thing ever since. After going to business school, followed by fashion school, in Germany, I moved to Los Angeles. Now my team and I are able to create whatever we want, whenever and however we want. We aim to improve everyday items and clothing wherever we can without having to adhere to the traditional fashion calendar. JH is in a pretty good place right now. We aren’t looking to become hugely popular or profitable.

I came to know you through your blog on Tumblr. Your taste and style seemingly haven’t changed in years, which is rare to find in someone as young as yourself. What shaped your taste, how did you arrive at your look, and what advice do you have for someone who has yet to figure out what works for them?

I think it comes from an early interest in all things art and design related. For better or for worse, I’ve spent lots of time with these topics on Tumblr or with books growing up. I think I have narrowed down what works for me and what interests me over the years. For anyone trying to find their style or look: Take your environment and self into consideration. Be open to trying new things, but remember that you don’t have to do or wear everything you find intriguing.

You travel a good deal. Talk to me about some of your favorite places around the globe. Have you purposely built extensive travel into your schedule?

Lift Tokyo, the 97CM Studio in Berlin, the Austrian Alps, Cento Pasta Bar in DTLA—there are too many amazing places to name. I make it a point to stay traveling, whether it’s for work or otherwise, I like to see and participate in new things as much as possible.

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What is the last movie you watched? Book you read? Album you listened to? Do you have all-time recommendations for any of those mediums?

Movie: The Platform by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia

Book: Intimidations by Zadie Smith

Album: What Kinda Music by Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes

I don’t have all-time favorites for the most part, but I always recommend any Albert Camus book.

Do you have any favorite brands, and if so, why do you appreciate them? What’s the last clothing item you purchased? Are there any pieces you are on the lookout for?

I am interested in any brand that fulfills its initial purpose well, without compromising quality or integrity for profit. The last item I purchased was a pair of Carhartt work pants a few months ago. I haven’t been shopping too much as of late; I’m more focused on making good use of what I already have, as well as prioritizing creation over consumption.

What is a typical day like for you in this new world we’re living in? What is a typical weekend like for you when there isn’t a global pandemic?

Honestly, aside from travel restrictions, not much has changed for me. I am still able to get my work done remotely, work out, get out of the house and eat as before. A usual weekend would consist of any work the week didn’t allow for, maybe getting out of town and surfing if time permits.

What’s on the horizon for you and your brand, either this year or in the near future?

I’m working on many exciting projects; there has been a lot of time to rethink things. I’m hoping to use this current time as an opportunity to bring positive change and learn, in a respectful and intuitive manner, wherever I can.

Do you have an all-time favorite watch? What’s your favorite watch in your possession? Are you on the hunt for any at the moment?

My current favorite would have to be the Reverso Tribute to 1931 by Jaeger-LeCoultre. It’s my most-worn watch. I’m always on the lookout for interesting case designs or dial layouts, but I’m not hunting for anything in particular right now.

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