How Gabriela Hearst Is Fighting For Sustainable Fashion


June 22, 2018 | BY Rosana Lai

You might know the name Gabriela Hearst from the fortune cookie shaped It-bag that has dominated social media for the past year, but you may not know that the Uruguay-born designer is a passionate and powerful advocate for sustainable fashion. Ahead of her visit to Hong Kong, where she'll launch her new collection at Lane Crawford ifc mall on June 27, we chat with Hearst to find out which designers she admires, her next bag, and more.

Many people may not know that you’re originally from Uruguay. Did growing up on a ranch inform your way of designing and making clothes?

It has very much informed the way we make clothes, not only from the materials we choose—as we are always drawn to natural fibres— but also our values. I am very resourceful, as we didn't have access to a lot of things on the ranch, so you have to work with what you have.

That’s part of our company ethos, as I believe luxury doesn’t need to be wasteful. I also I grew up with objects and structures that were made to last. Quality was a needed characteristic, while opulence was not. The objects and my surroundings have character, formed by the lives that were lived and the passing of time.

See also: Ethically Chic: Designer Ji Won Choi Gets Deep About Sustainable Fashion

What are some things you incorporated into your line to make sure things are done ethically?

We invest in the best materials possible and the best craftsmanship, so our design are not only beautiful but can pass the test of time. We want pieces to become hand-me-downs and not be thrown away. 

Conscious consumption should be applied to everything. We have to avoid consuming plastic. In our company, we are aiming to be plastic free by April 2019. All of our flat packaging is now TIPA, which is a compostable packaging solution.

Who are some designers you look up to and why?

Elsa Schiaparelli, Miuccia Prada and Vivienne Westwood. They are all females that lead their own houses with their name on the door and have evolved over time. Elsa Schiaparelli collaborated with some of the most extraordinary artists of our time in her collections, and had her first collection produced by Armenian Refugees.

Ms Prada is a symbol of how a vision can evolve with the same creative director. Vivienne Westwood is a queen pirate amongst fashion royalty who is never scared to use her platform to express her world views.

See also: 7 Fashion Designers Who Made Major Moves This Year

Let’s talk about the Nina bag–did you expect it to be such a hit? 

It’s named after Nina Simone, the singer. As it gained traction, I decided to continue that same philosophy of creating out of love in all of our other bags. There is no timeline or pressure. 

We develop them for months and months, and we only develop a few. That’s why it is so special and why we keep the distribution very close. 

What about the new Rafaela bag, what was the inspiration behind it?

We wanted to create something special for Lane Crawford and—since we'll be opening our own retail store in November on Madison Avenue in New York—we thought of creating smaller leather goods. We thought how wonderfully whimsical it would be to recreate the Nina bag in a micro version.

What’s something you didn’t expect upon entering the fashion industry?

I have been in it for so long, I really started from the bottom without too many expectations. I am grateful to the industry that it let me fulfil myself and help me discover that fashion is the one thing I have shown some sort of talent in.

I am also grateful that it is receptive to the idea of change. 

Gabriela Hearst will be at Lane Crawford IFC mall in Hong Kong on June 27 to personally launch her newest collection and present the worldwide debut of the Rafaela Bag. Find out more at

See also:  8 Things You Didn't Know About Australian Designer Christopher Esber

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