15 Minutes With Hagen Valencia


Hagen Valencia
Age: 29
Day job: Fashion designer for Gold & Thread
Former life: Merchandiser for Urban Outfitters, Diesel and Zara

When did you first become aware of fashion?
High school is when I harnessed my style. I would go shopping in the old Downtown Plaza at places like Ikon, Getta Clue and Good Stock. I also took a sculpture class in high school, and that’s where I learned to take different materials and experiment to see what I could make out of them. I didn’t know what kind of career I could have with sculpture, but I really liked style and fashion and I saw fashion as a form of sculpture.

Often young people experimenting with fashion start by making interesting alterations to the apparel they own. Did you start this way?
That happened after high school. I would shop at a lot of thrift stores to look for cool fabrics and prints. I was really big into denim, so I would cut up denim pieces and mess everything up to make what I wanted to wear.

What was the first item of clothing you made from scratch?
The first thing I ever made was a pair of denim jeans with lightning bolts on the back pockets. I used chalk to outline the lightning shape and stitched around it with a sewing machine. I look back at those and I’m like, Wow, I’ve grown so much. I still have them. I keep everything as an archive so that I can look back and see my growth.

Tell me about the Gold & Thread label.
It’s a unisex brand for people who look for statement pieces. They want to stand out and have something different that’s made well. As far as defining our style, we’ve got more of a street-style look. We do functional ready-to-wear pieces like denim jackets and button-down shirts. You know it’s Gold &Thread by the way the patterns are put together.

Who buys your brand?
Our customers definitely have a sense of style and they know who they are. I’ve had people from as young as 18 to people in their late 60s wanting a custom piece. People definitely want to know their designer. When you meet the person who has actually constructed a piece, it makes it more of a story. I think people really like and appreciate somebody taking the time to make that special item.

How do you reach your customers?
We sell directly through Instagram and are working on a store, Deadstock Homme, that will open in Natomas. It will house a barber, vintage clothing and the Gold & Thread brand. I feel it’s really important to have that brick-and-mortar space because when you see a store on Instagram, everything is so flat. I was a fashion merchandiser before, so I want to build out spaces to show you what I was thinking at the time I created the collection.

What words describe Sacramento street fashion?
Underrated cool. A couple months ago I watched “Lady Bird,” and I was laughing during the scene where she goes into Thrift Town. She’s so rebellious and cool. I think that’s definitely Sacramento.

Do you have a favorite designer whose work or attitude you admire?
I like a lot of labels and designers from Japan—like Comme des Garçons, Yohji Yamamoto, Junya Watanabe—because their style is really wild and wacky. I look at them for inspiration for ready-to-wear pieces that somebody from Sacramento can wear.

What dreams do you have for yourself and the label?
Opening the store is my immediate goal. The next thing would be to present in New York Fashion Week. It’s going to take a little time, but I think we’re headed in the right direction.