Have you heard of our partnership with The Business of Fashion? From the Future VOICES challenge to complimentary BoF memberships for students, it’s all about nurturing the next generation of global industry talent. To top it all off, we’re hosting a global series of talks on how to make it in the changing fashion industry, launching on April 19th in London. Can’t make it? Read our interview with designer and panellist Anya Hindmarch below, or stay tuned for the live stream on our Facebook page at 7pm tonight…
How did you get into the industry?
When I was 19 and living in Italy, I noticed that all the stylish Florentine women were wearing a drawstring leather duffel bag. I loved its shape, style and the ease with which it was worn and it made me realise how powerful accessories can be in forming a perception of a woman. When I returned to England, I approached Harper’s & Queen (now known as Harper’s Bazaar magazine) about a special commission. I designed a bag as a special offer for the magazine; 500 were sold and the Anya Hindmarch brand was born. I was from a family of entrepreneurs so it felt natural. My youth was a benefit because I didn’t think about the problems, I just got on with it. Looking back I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What would you say was your big break?
My first orders from Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman and my first shop on the second floor of a building on Walton Street in London – I couldn’t afford the ground floor. Slowly but surely everyone came up those little steps on Walton Street, from Princess Diana to Elle Macpherson.
What’s your advice for young people trying to make it in fashion?
Find fellow entrepreneurs you can lean on through tricky times, as it can be a very lonely business. And do what you love and what you are passionate about. There is a great quote from Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken”. I think that says it all. Persist and don’t forget to enjoy the journey – it’s fantastically hard work, but worth every second.
What inspires you? What exhibition are you looking forward to seeing this year?
I find inspiration in anything and everything: people, architecture, travel and chocolate. Laughter is our lifeblood at AH HQ, which I think comes through in the product. I’m a big believer in feeding your brain. It is amazing how ideas bank and come to fruition at some point much later. And I am looking forward to seeing the David Hockney exhibition at the Tate Britain this month.
What’s your favourite hang-out in London?
For something a little different I go to Rock & Sole Plaice, London’s oldest surviving fish and chip shop. It was established in 1871, is still bustling and you can eat outside under coloured lights strung from the trees. The Design Museum is a gem of a museum, housing modern and contemporary industrial design, architecture, graphics and fashion all under one roof. Abe Books in London is wonderful for rare and vintage books – I could spend hours there. I always leave feeling inspired and creative, with something special tucked away in my bag.
What sets the fashion scene in London apart from other cities?
The cultural diversity and rich heritage that the UK offers are powerful influences, which make British fashion so innovative and unique. I think there’s a braveness to design in the UK, a bending of rules and an entrepreneurial spirit, which makes London a city that garners an increasingly huge amount of attention, not just creatively but as a serious global player.