Since launching her eponymous label five years ago, Gabriela Hearst has won over legions of fans around the globe with her vision of effortless elegance, her understanding of what real women want, and her commitment to sustainability. When she debuted her line of striking, sculptural bags in 2016, lengthy waitlists quickly formed. Those bags are usually available to buy only in her own stores and her e-commerce channel but from now until 31 December, they will be made available to shop in-person here with a pop-up at On Pedder, Pedder on Scotts. New styles include the cube-like Baez, the Art Deco-inspired Virginia and the sleek, functional Neck Pouch.
Sustainability has always been at the heart of your brand—did the pandemic and the resulting lockdowns brought the issue even more to the fore?
The big picture for us has always been about how to do business in a crisis—the crisis being environmental; and the risk, our extinction. When the COVID-19 crisis arrived, we were already used to working within strict parameters. We obviously had to make some adaptations quickly—not so much on our long-term view but with our digital muscle to make sure it was strong enough to compensate for the lack of physicality in our retail.
When it comes to sustainability we will never be finished—we will continue to evolve because it’s the key pillar of our company. This year, even with COVID-19 going on, we launched several initiatives: one being the garment journey project to bring transparency to how we make our products so our clients know where we are getting our materials, where everything is made, and the choices we make to create a product that not only looks good but feels good. We also measure our carbon footprint—we then offset it with a donation to a nonprofit. We pushed our percentage of recycled and repurposed materials higher than last year’s. These are all efforts to bring us closer to the circular economy we want to be in.
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Apart from obvious practical reasons, such as soaring cases in New York, why did you choose to hold your latest show in Paris?
Gabriela Hearst is a New York brand with a Uruguayan heart. I moved to New York 20 years ago—this is the city where I grew from young adulthood to womanhood. It is where I have manifested so many of my dreams. But we have also become an international brand with most of our clients coming from outside the US—it’s why we opened our showroom and home in Paris in 2018.
When we started to assess the best course of action to navigate the ever-changing landscape that resulted from the pandemic, it became increasingly clear for many reasons that we will have to present in Paris, from an environmental perspective and from a logistics perspective. One of our biggest carbon emissions was from the transportation of our collection, which is mostly made in Italy. But above all, it is always a dream to show in Paris. This is the time for us to manifest this dream.
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What was your starting point for spring/summer 2021?
It was really about speed. I started to conceptualise it during the pandemic so it was mostly based on my subconscious—dreams and thoughts that were evolving in my brain. But the execution of the collection was a very detailed and conscious effort as it was the most crafted collection we’ve ever done.
In this new uncertain world, what role do you think fashion needs to play?
Besides being a medium of expression, fashion has a platform of communication—this platform should be used to promote social consciousness, a world that is more united and less divisive.