AgainstAllOdds : A chat with Ian Hargrove

‘If I were to compare Ian, I would compare him to a very fine Cava, Champagne or Prosecco – elegant, bubbly and always celebrating’, Nancy Rahman shared with me her thoughts when I asked her about Ian’s personality, which is very true to his unique designs and creations. Ian Hangrove is one true midwesterner at heart, warm, openminded and down to earth while his designs are ever so European with an international flair. We were proud to learn about Ian’s work and creations in Chicago but surprised to find out that he received no formal education for fashion. ‘My passions only pushed me to start creating pieces and bit by bit I have found myself the fashion designer that I’ve always wanted to be’. We chatted a bit with Ian about his life, his Chicago and more. One thing I can confidently say is… watch this brand go big!

HA- Ian, tell me a little bit more about you. 

IH-I’m a Sagittarius, born in the northwest ‘burbs of Chicago. I am the eldest of four kids and by far the shortest. I am an essentially self taught designer. I have a weakness for real housewives of anywhere, red wine, and fried chicken.


HA- Sagittarius.. that makes you a traveler? What are your interest and ambitions? 

My interests are all over the map, I love yoga and great food. I cook a lot and at one time was a fairly accomplished painter. Right now I am really focused on growing my business in Chicago and establishing a really strong client base on my home turf.

HA- Describe AgainstAllOdds? How did it come to be?

I have worked in the apparel industry for years, doing everything from retail sales to wardrobe styling and visuals. AgainstAllOdds came to be because I was tired of styling/ selling other peoples work. I always knew I could do it and one day 3 years ago I decided it was now or never. I bit the bullet and started working on the collection. The name is AgainstAllOdds is a reference to the difficulty of branching out on my own as well as a nod to the charitable work that is one of the cornerstones of my company.

HA- What is your mission? 

AgainstAllOdds and myself work hard to maintain a strong social conscience and partner with non for profits and charities whenever possible. Also I am really dedicated to helping foster the fashion industry in Chicago.
My client is fun, classic, and chic but not afraid to take risks with what she wears, she is Lollapalozza VIP meets Champagne at J. Parker.


HA- What are your thoughts about Chicago fashion and how does AgainstAllOdds play into that?

Chicago fashion to me is all over the map. Every one of the neighborhoods have their own personality and style. It’s my goal to have a collection that appeals to all Chicago women. The one style constant I see in Chicago is versatility, comfortable is sexy and with the weather being what it is here, you have to be ready for anything.

HA- Chicago has a rep for not being up to par with cities like LA and NYC when it comes to fashion. How does that make you feel?

Chicago is popular for fashion because of the people that live here. Personality shows through the clothes people wear and Chicago women are full of personality. I think it will take time for Chicago to be a “recognized” fashion capital, and I don’t think that it’s for us to compete with the coasts, there is room enough in the fashion world for everyone, its more about filling a niche in the industry. We need designers to stay here in the City and build brands with Chicago in mind, and not run off the one of the coasts the second some success comes their way.

HA- Trends: What is one thing you see changing in the fashion industry? 

The big change I see in the fashion industry is the interest in smaller designers doing special work and collaborations. The mega labels are amazing but there are so many amazingly talented people in the industry that aren’t house hold names … There are great new boutiques and stores that are specifically sourcing from smaller designers and artists such as Blake in Chicago. These stores promote the young designer and create a cult and following for him/her. I guess the most important thing right now is to be really passionate with your work, to grab a buyers interest and attention.

HA- How are you inspired? 

I get inspiration from everything, art, photographs, movies, flowers, friends, it depends on the collection. This last season started from a picture I saw of an albino peacock, next season has a lot of Audrey Hepburn, so really my inspiration is all over the place.


HA- What do you admire within the fashion industry? 

IH-I admire the fashion industries support of talent. There are so many amazing programs helping with both industry mentoring and money to help out new designers. Its all about being successful and paying it forward.

My Chicago

— Chicago is great because it has everything, great food, great night life, and fun people. I love the street feasts and the beach in the summer, and movie marathons and red wine in the winter.

— For beers with friends I love Pint in Wicker Park, The roof top at Side Track is great. Brunch at Lula Cafe in Logan Square is life changing. If I would give advice to someone planning a trip to Chicago, I would say make sure that you get out of downtown and spend some time in the neighborhoods, there are amazing stores with awesome stuff that you wont find in the downtown shopping districts. And of course you should catch a cubs game.

— Since I’m from here it’s really hard for me to pin point how Chicago helped my development, so Ill just say I wouldn’t be the person or designer that I am without my home city.


Click on Photo for GIF


A Quote I live by 

“do it for the story”

My advice to the reader

My biggest piece of advice to anyone thinking of taking that scary step into the realm of being your own boss, is to make sure that you are ready for a life change, an amazingly beautiful awful life change. It’s hard work and you have to love what you do. And if you are ready, take the leap.


Visit : AgainstAllOdds

Photos by
Nancy Abdul Rahman


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