Being a Mall Rat with Hardeman

Being a Mall Rat with Hardeman

By Andrew NguyenDec 07, 2023

It's a specific kind of nostalgic memory that young adults romanticize: Asking their parents to drive them to the mall to meet their besties to do nothing but aimlessly walk around, spending the little money they have at the teriyaki spot in the food court and at Claire's for cheap jewelry that'll disintegrate in a week — not a care in the world except maybe whether or not they'll run into their crush in their new Hollister outfit. For its Fall 2024 campaign, called "Welcome to the Hardemall," Hardeman revisits those special days, except this time it includes clothes fit for the runway.

It all started when founder and designer Sophie Hardeman met with longtime photographer friend and collaborator Bennet Perez at Panda Express in Burbank Mall. The two talked about the personal experiences that they had in such places. "I think there is a certain nostalgia about malls because a lot of us have spent so much time there during our teens," Hardeman tells PAPER. "I guess nowadays we kind of romanticize the boredom you go through while you figure out the world and your place in it. It’s an exhilarating but also a really anxious time."

Inspired by their nostalgia after Panda Express, the two goofed around at the mall, spent all day scouring the racks at Macy’s and even ended up casting some new faces for the campaign. The result is a cast of new and old LA friends — including pop musician Harmony Tividad, who Hardeman describes as "one of the most authentic it girls in town," and the mother of toddler twins Sierra Young, "who's been hustling and achieving her dreams to work in fashion in LA." With Perez behind the lens, the cast eats lo mein at the food court, gets scoffed at by the elderly, tries on clothes in the dressing room and plays in the arcade — all while wearing the brand's new collection.

Hardeman's clothing is seasonless, timeless, designed to last and grounded in reality. Its goal is to make clothes that people feel good in. "Mixing fashion with function has always been the core of our aesthetics," says Hardeman. "We want to put our clothing in the context of something that people can imagine themselves but still adding a hearty dose of humor and innovation."

Standouts include more intricate reworked one-of-a-kind garments like white leather moto jackets, vintage trenches with sewn-in denim lapels and camo cargos and bags, which were all cut and constructed from deadstock cargo pants. But it's more than just splicing fabrics together. To Hardeman, fashion is about "defying all the shit that gets thrown at us — a way to reject toxic dynamics." So basically, we all deserve to feel good.

As for what's next for the brand making its return, Hardeman says: "We would love to dress celebrity impersonators in Las Vegas and the Statue of Liberty. We want to become more connected to our community and would love to make home products like wonky toothbrushes and home goods, as well as brewing our own beer. Hopefully someday we’ll be able to crack a cold one together, drinking a Hardeman while wearing Hardeman!"

The collection is available now at

Photography: Bennet Perez 
Production: Cecilia Alvarez Blackwell