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Ahead of London Fashion Week next month, we talk to Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding about shirts, working together and winning a Topshop NewGen sponsorship

After collaborating for the past two years menswear designer Levi Palmer and womenswear designer Matthew Harding have creatively joined forces to become Palmer//Harding.  The two are focusing on one style of garment; the shirt, for both men and women. Commenting on their choice of garment, the designn duo said: "By focusing on shirts alone, the designs are able to be seen in a pure form without distraction, highlighting the beauty and craft of the garments".

Work by the duo has previously been published in Dazed & Confused, AnOther Magazine and V magazine in the guise of Matthew Harding's Central Saint Martins MA collection, which both designer worked on. This collection showed a new approach to sheer jersy through the use of flocked corrugated metal. For next month's London Fashion Week, Palmer//Harding has been awarded a NewGen exhibition sponsorship from Topshop.
Dazed Digital: How long have you worked together?
Since 2007 but more intensively in the past two years.
DD: What made you decide to form Palmer Harding?

Palmer//Harding: We'd been discussing ideas about starting a label for a while. We wanted to take our time and think about what we wanted to say and start a label with a purpose. The MA Collection had got a very positive response, but we wanted to work together, and not as 'Matthew Harding, and we wanted to take a detour from this collection.

That's when we decided to focus on shirts. There seems to be a gap in London to really focus on the garments and the wearer rather than to focus on a show. ANDAM approached us at the beginning of the year while we were putting ideas together for a collection and it escalated from there!

DD: Do you have opposing or similar styles?

Palmer//Harding: Opposing I think, Levi's style is quite romantic and fluid, whereas mine has quite a controlled approach, bold and structured. Together we get the best of both of us which creates something really special.
DD: Matthew, you're a womenswear designer whilst Levi, you do menswear... do you find it easy or tricky to collaborate because of this?

Palmer//Harding: Very easy actually, it is quite a symbiotic process. Neither part of the label takes more precedence than the other. We both design the womenswear and both design the menswear. The womenswear helps to push our ideas and the menswear helps to ground them in reality. We want our clothing to be relevant to people's lives.

DD: Describe the style of Palmer Harding?
Palmer//Harding: Confident and emotive shirts with finesse. We don't rely on fancy fabrics to sell our designs, we have quite a humble palette this season. We're focusing on the cut and detail that can be worked into the garment rather than surface decoration. We both have quite a strong pattern cutting background and this is our main focus with design.

DD: What influences you?
Palmer//Harding: Sculpture, music, photography - this season we have been looking at a lot of Ingar Krauss' images and listening to Nico, The Velvet Underground and The Wild Beasts.

DD: Who do you see wearing you clothes?
Palmer//Harding: Real men and women. Our shirts are special pieces that hopefully people will treasure, but we also want them to be able to slot into peoples lives and have a life with them. The MA collection didn't necessarily do this and this was one of the main reasons for us to take a detour from it.
DD: When is the collection released?
Palmer//Harding: We have been extremely fortunate to receive NewGen Exhibition sponsorship - Topshop and the BFC have been extremely supportive. We'll be showing our mens and womens shirts in September at London Fashion Week.