To say that James Heuer is ready for Halloween would be an understatement. The Virginia-bred designer first launched Terror Tales in 2017, and his brand has since become a cornerstone of the horror-infused streetwear scene. Heuer’s love for retro horror is both a source of inspiration and an aesthetic code of his blossoming brand—mirrored in his designs through everything from a ‘50s television set to a shrieking Marion Crane. Terror Tales’ inventory boasts a combination of crystals, holographics, and a cinefile-worthy collection of pop culture references. Below, the 21-year old designer talks thrifting, his resale past, and what it’s like under Sean Wotherspoon’s wing.
Where are you from, and where are you now?
I’m from Northern Virginia, and I currently still live in Virginia.
What is your first memory with streetwear?
Going to the skatepark in second grade, and seeing all the kids wearing Baker and World Industries. My first memory really getting into streetwear is when my brother and I started our vintage clothing company in 2015; we were reselling vintage clothes, sneakers, and Supreme.
If you had to compress your personal style into one outfit, what would it be?
A vintage, all-over print Star Wars or wrestling T-shirt, an unstructured hat, a flannel, and some worn Levi’s.
When did you first feel inspired to create your own designs? What led you to start selling them?
After being into fashion and reselling for years, I wanted to create something of my own. Sean Wotherspoon was a big inspiration for me to start my own thing, as well as the brands that were just starting to pop off like Pleasures and Chinatown Market.
Describe your design aesthetic in one sentence, if you can.
Vintage horror-inspired with a modern twist.
Where do you feel the most inspired? Why?
In thrift stores or vintage shops. I get to pull new inspirations for graphics, feel potential fabrics, and see how different garments are made. I’m also constantly inspired by random things I see throughout my everyday life.
Which living designer do you most admire? Why?
Dapper Dan is one of my favorites, because he was able to take products from big designers such as Louis Vuitton or Gucci and create some of the coolest pieces of clothing—and, eventually, his work became the inspiration for those companies.
What’s your biggest creative or career milestone so far?
In August 2019, I flew to LA and held a pop-up on Melrose Ave. After my one-day pop-up, Sean Wotherspoon asked if I wanted to have another pop-up inside the Round Two store. That was a huge opportunity that I am very grateful for. The exposure allowed me to grow the brand, and my work was seen by a lot of influencers and celebrities. Another big milestone for the brand has actually been getting to work with TRILL, it’s really helped the brand grow and helped me realize that this might work out as a career.
How do you want people to feel when wearing your designs?
I want them to feel unique—like they’re rocking something no one else has—and confident. There’s no greater feeling than when a customer tells me how many compliments they’ve received on a piece we designed.
What would you most like to change about the current fashion industry?
I would change the fact that fast fashion runs the whole industry. Fast fashion has really changed the standard of what people think clothing should cost, and what constitutes quality. So it then turns people off from very high quality pieces that would've been considered a great price back in the day.