LONDON — Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley are poised to become luxury’s latest double, launching the women’s ready-to-wear and accessories brand Hillier Bartley for fall, WWD has learned.
This story first appeared in the March 31, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The duo, working out of a studio in East London’s Rochelle School, presented their high-end collection to buyers in Paris during the show season in March. They will be delivering internationally to select retailers from August.
The collection will include rtw, bags and accessories full of classic English references. The designers told WWD their brand has “a masculine elegance,” which makes use of Savile Row cloths, velvet, silk, merino wool and shearling across tailoring, dresses and separates.
The collection will be manufactured in the U.K., with fabrics sourced predominantly from British mills. Bags will be produced outside Venice, Italy.
WWD first reported earlier this month that Hillier and Bartley were pursuing a creative venture of their own amid speculation that the Marc by Marc Jacobs line was set to be assimilated into that brand’s main collection. Marc by Marc Jacobs had been designed by creative director Hillier and women’s design director Bartley since 2013. According to industry sources, the duo’s decision to launch their own label was separate from Marc Jacobs’ decision to fold Marc by Marc.
“Hillier Bartley is a very personal project which Katie and I have been working on for years,” said Bartley who, before joining Marc Jacobs, had her own rtw label, which closed in 2009.
“It is a culmination of everything I have learned as a designer and a woman, and is purely and defiantly about the clothes and fabrics. We have also looked at the women we admire, what we would want to wear and the inspirations that have been close to us for ages,” Bartley added. “Its ultimate heroine lies somewhere between Ian McCulloch and Katharine Hepburn. It’s about a woman our age, indie by heart, rakish and irreverent by nature, who is maturing into refinement and naturalness.”
Hillier said she and Bartley had always worked together “in different ways. Now we are finally putting all our experience into making something that’s a reflection of us, of what we want to wear. I’m really proud of what we’ve made — the craftsmanship, attention to detail and design. It’s been a real labor of love, and I am looking forward to seeing women we admire carrying our bags and wearing our clothes.”
They declined to provide further details on the collection.
Hillier, a well-known jewelry and accessories designer, has a long history with the Marc Jacobs brand. She will remain involved with the contemporary collection that’s set to sit within the new iteration of the Marc Jacobs brand, according to sources. They added that Bartley will likely be involved in the new Marc Jacobs structure as well, although her role has yet to be determined.
Bartley was forced to shutter her company in 2009 — not long after the economic crisis hit — when her global licensee and distributor, Club 21, walked away from their six-year relationship. The label’s turnover at the time was about 9 million pounds, or $15 million at average exchange rates in the period, yet was operating at a loss.
In 2008, Bartley won the Designer of the Year Award at the British Fashion Awards, and her collection, which was regularly well-reviewed, was stocked at stores including Liberty, Harvey Nichols, Harrods and Colette.