LONDON — Katharine Hamnett is back. Not just with a capsule collection of nine pieces for British brand YMC, which was launched with a reception at the London Edition at the end of London Fashion Week, but with the re-launch of her own brand, which the designer hopes to start selling again online by November.
This story first appeared in the February 25, 2016 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The capsule collection will launch today at the YMC store on Hanbury Street, East London, and online at youmustcreate.com. The collection includes Hamnett’s signature slogan T-shirts, and pieces from the designer’s archive that have been reworked by the YMC team to make the silhouettes modern, including a draped dress, a shirt and a boiler suit — all made from organic silk and cotton. Prices range from 50 pounds, about $71 at current exchange, to 299 pounds for the boiler suit, about $422.
The collaboration came about after YMC designers Fraser Moss and Jimmy Collins approached Hamnett about her archive, which is something that Kanye West had also recently done. After coming upon some vintage Hamnett pieces near Milan, he contacted her and borrowed 300 pieces from the archive and asked to have the entire archive of almost 1,500 pieces photographed. It took five days, two photographers and six models to get it all done and she’s turned the images into “bibles,” which she proudly retrieved from her bag at the reception.
Those requests got Hamnett to thinking that she should consider re-launching her brand. “The collaboration is really lovely but it has woken me up to my potential as a brand. I’ve got a massive brand-name recognition around the world but I’m in this evil situation where I don’t have the distribution,” she told WWD. “They kind of gave me an opportunity and it made me realize what I should be doing in this stupid bloody business which is 90 percent reissue, so we’ve got that [archive] book that is from 1979 to 1989, and any other lunacy I want to put in. I’ve got outer Mongolian cashmere, fair trade, gorgeous camel. West African cotton, chuck that in.
“It’s got to be about fashion first. But I can do gorgeous stuff which is also sustainable and the way that it should be made, you know, like making in the EU under EU employment laws, checking they are being observed, not made by Chinese [workers] that are being resuscitated because they’re dead or whatever.”
She plans to launch with an online boutique in November this year with a spring 2017 collection, which she will manufacture in Greece using organic cotton sourced in West Africa. “Greece, of all places! Greece is closer to source, it’s more environmentally friendly [without transporting it from manufacturers in the East] and f–k, they need jobs in Greece,” she said. “I would like to turn it into a cooperative and put a substantial percentage, like 20 percent, of the retail back to the farmers and give them the dignity of deciding how they are going to spend it themselves.
“I try to work with other people and it doesn’t work. I like being independent, it’s the only way I’m happy,” she said. “Also, I have to bring it back to market because I’ve run out of money.”