Our love affair with Hayden-Harnett started years ago, back when Ben Harnett and Toni Hacker, partners in life, crime and business, were still creating their signature leather goods out of their tiny apartment in Brooklyn. It’s been a thrill watching the brand grow into the successful business it is now, while keeping the original craftsmanship and edge of its humble beginnings. We talked to Toni about this season’s colorful bags, her new metaphysical lookbook and the future of the brand. Enjoy these quirky collages!
LF: How excited are you about Hayden-Harnett’s big brand relaunch? Tell us a little bit about what that entails.
TH: I’m really excited about our relaunch. We’ve been an independent brand since 2005, so this season represents our first collections made while having a safety net. Since AHQ acquired the brand last September, I have much more time to focus solely on design and the development of the brand. The collections are looking great and the quality is even better than before. It’s been very liberating to have a great parent company for Hayden-Harnett. We’re still working with our main manufacturers, but expanding and finding great materials with the help of their production and sourcing teams. I miss our Brooklyn studio, but I’m enjoying coming into our new offices in Manhattan every day… I’m getting in some great people and style watching.
LF: How did the Hayden-Harnett x Vanessa Bley collab cookbook come about? Background on relationship, how did you two meet?
TH: Ben (Harnett, my partner in life and the brand) introduced me to Vanessa years ago and we really hit it off. They grew up together in a small town in upstate New York called Cherry Valley, that deserves its own book. Allen Ginsberg was there with his Committee for Poetry. The beat poets and creatives followed and now there is this really interesting community of artists, musicians, and NYC expats. Vanessa’s dad, Paul Bley (jazz pianist), and her mom Carol Goss (video artist) settled there.
I love Vanessa’s personal style, and also that she’s continually evolving her music and projects. She’s not just a pretty face, but she has brains to match. She writes, records, mixes, and arranges all of her music…sort of like a female Prince. We just click on many, many levels. Ben gets full credit for introducing us. Thanks, Ben.
LF: What was the inspiration behind the Spring13 campaign?
TH: I became obsessed with the way that our digital world is quickly reflecting our inner reality. What we imagine, or think of, can now be broadcast for the entire world to view at the speed of light. That’s the fantastic voyage. I look around and everyone (even Ben and I at home) are so immersed in their digital worlds. I wanted to create a campaign with a virtual reality feel… if we could go anywhere and look like anything, what would that be?
There are two series of images that were created for spring: ‘fantastic voyage’ (included in this post), which explores virtual realities, and ‘the white room’ which is more of an internal journey… it’s a nod to David Lynch’s ‘White Lodge’ from Twin Peaks and his work with Transcendental Meditation. The exploration of the internal world is the most fantastic journey of all.
LF: You’re introducing new colors and leathers… Can you tell us more about the line and how it has evolved?
TH: Lots of color… I love color. I get really obsessed with color. This season, I’m into royal blue, goldenrod, citron, vermillion, black and white stripes. There is a gorgeous silver holographic leather that’s coming in March that I’m debating to call ‘Moon Unit’. I usually have more fun with our fall/winter collections, but this spring was super fun to work on. I think the sense of fun and adventure shines through.
LF: Toni, you described Vanessa as a babe with a really sexy brain. Tell me why you picked her as your muse for the relaunch (versus going with a traditional model campaign, what does this stand for, etc.)
TH: Vanessa is very strong…she’s a powerful woman who is on the verge of hitting her stride. I identify with that and I think that many of Hayden-Harnett’s fans will as well. When I mentioned the concept for the white room and fantastic voyage concepts, Vanessa loved it. She’s very adventurous…plus, she’s gorgeous. She’s the kind of girl that you just want to hang out with and hear all about the great music she’s listening to and where she’s shopping and eating. She’s very ‘real’ and she works really hard. I think she is very much like many of our fans.
LF: What’s on the Hayden-Harnett SS13 playlist?
TH: Our ‘Fantastic Voyage’ playlist is so good! I’m listening to it constantly…it really captured the spirit of the spring collection. Animal Collective, PJ Harvey, Here we go Magic, Hot Chip, Alexander, Friends, Wild Nothing… and of course some great tracks from Vanessa. Here’s the link!
LF: What does it mean for you to be made in NYC?
TH: It means a lot. Sadly, it’s somewhat difficult and more time-intensive to source, develop, and produce in the states. We work with a fantastic old-school leather maker from Peru, Roy Campos. He’s pretty magical. He also loves leather as much as I do. I think that’s why we’re such a good fit. He’s very passionate about his work.