As we all know, I’m a big fan of Miss Henrietta Rose, a.k.a. Hetty Rose. I thought it would be cool to learn more about her and how she got into designing and what her influences are.
Miss Hetty took the time to sit down with me and answer a whole bunch of my questions
1. When did you first get into fashion and shoes?
My first memory of shoes having an impact on me was my first day at nursery school. My mother asked what my teacher was like and I proceeded to tell her all about her red shiny shoes. My obsession isn’t just how shoes look, I am very interested in how shoes are constructed too. I make clothes and have done since I was little and I enjoy sourcing vintage fabrics and trimmings from different countries when I travel.
2. What path has your life/schooling/career taken to get you to this point? For example, when did you decide this was what you wanted to go to school for, what schools did you consider/apply to, what internships, jobs and mentoring did you have? When did you decide to go into business for yourself and start your own line?
Prior to my footwear degree, I spent my art foundation year, after high school, de-constructing shoes and experimenting. I then I studied at the London College of Fashion and gained a degree in Footwear Design & Development (also known as Cordwainers College). During my time at university, I also gained an industrial placement for one year of study with footwear designer Georgina Goodman. At every stage of my learning I was/am very focused about what I want and my direction in development.
Since graduating I have worked in both London and Italy for handmade shoe companies before setting up the Hetty Rose company just over a year ago. I wanted my name in the shoe and took a risk by starting up something new, but I knew I had something unique and wanted to share it with people who would appreciate and enjoy the shoes.
3. How did you decide to work with vintage kimono fabric?
The concept of the company has grown from research and development I conducted during my degree. I was traveling in Japan 4 years ago and came across some tiny shops selling vintage kimono fabrics. These fabrics have already been un-picked and are panels, which lend themselves to shoe patterns. Therefore, I left my clothes in Japan and filled up my case with kimono fabrics and started to experiment with them in my workshop. I love it when I find a really beautiful piece of fabric. As the fabrics are one-offs they cannot be re-produced, so when I find something gorgeous, I have to do it justice by making it into something really wonderful. I go back each year to source more fabrics and be inspired by the beauty of the country.
4. Describe the process of creating one of your pairs of shoes? With inspiration comes design. I have the last form made in the last factory left in the UK and also the heels by craftspeople. I then make the patterns and cut the fabric and leather. I’ll then stitch them and mould them around the last by nailing it in position underneath. After the upper is lasted I’ll add the sole and attach the heel and finish of by putting the padding and cover inside the shoe. The entire process can take up to 6 weeks as there is lots of drying and molding required. In just hours it takes around 2-3 days per pair to make from scratch.
5. Do you have a team that helps you?
I have 2 press agents in the UK and Italy, an Japanese agent and 2 assistants who help in the workshop a couple days a week. When I am really busy I sometimes rope in sisters, boyfriend and friends to help with little jobs!
6. What influences your designs?
Objects, places, colours and dreamt-up ideas influence me more than looks or trends. I can pick up fashion developments and movements and translate these where appropriate.
7. What are your inspirations?
I am a self-confessed hoarder. I keep everything that inspires me or that could be useful. The idea of wasting something which could be transformed into something functional and beautiful is the reason I do what I do. Sustainability in the fashion field can be a challenge, so by having a concept which adheres to ethical and ecological sensitivities, I can be free with my designs.
My magpie tendencies often lead me to be inspired by trinkets and found objects.
8. What have been your biggest successes?
Being selected to show at London Fashion Week in my first season was great, also commissions from exhibition are always exciting. I enjoy traveling for my job and most of all I feel great satisfaction by having happy, lovely clients.
9. What have been your biggest roadblocks?
Financial constraints can be a challenge to juggle for a small business. Sourcing components in the UK can also be hard work. I have build relationships with small crafts people who can create to my specifications. Working everyday can be tiring, but I love my job and feel so lucky to be able to be creative everyday.
10. Can you name some of your favorite (and or famous) clients?
From Poochie: All clients are kept anonymous. Press coverage can be seen on Hetty’s site
11. What is your favorite part of your job?
My clients are so delightful, I love meeting people who like to be unique and individual in their fashion style. It is so great to hand make something totally exclusive to them.
12. What goals and milestones have you set for yourself? What are you looking forward to and planning over the next few years?I plan to steadily build up my business and profile. Through ongoing research of the market and materials, I aim to develop the brand, be reliable and build credibility through providing a quality product, excellent service with definitive branding. By creating an experience for customers, I aim to gain loyal customers and buyers.
I aim to design the Hetty Rose trans-seasonal collections with the ethos of making a collection which has typical signature style to be recognisable as Hetty Rose brand. This will enable customers to grow alongside the company and be loyal and enjoy each collection.
I like to collaborate with other designer/makers to create something really unique, and I would like to carry on doing this within many varied disciplines.
I would like to expand to a shop in the UK and then abroad in Europe, US and Japan.
I also enjoy explaining and demonstrating my practice to others and would love to carry out educational workshops.
13. What have been some of your most interesting or unusual special requests?
I have made shoes out of different fabric for the same pair for a client’s wedding. The result was really beautiful and striking. Some clients like matching accessories; purses, bags, belts, hair bows and baby shoes!
I am currently working on a project with a stylist for an exhibition which will travel in the UK, New York and Tokyo. It will involve hand weaving a shoe in vivid bright colours.
14. Who are your favorite designers?
Roger Vivier was a pioneer in footwear. I have a lot of respect for designers who do things you wouldn’t expect and play with materials in a creative way. Also, Nicholas Kirkwood, Gil Carvalho and Georgina Goodman have amazing vision.
15. Do you wear shoes by any other designers? If so, who?I wear mostly vintage designers or my own shoes. I have a few pairs of Georgina Goodman shoes, Hermes, some high street brands and often wear real ballet shoes which I customize.
16. What are your favorite books and magazines?
I rarely get time to read books. When I have time I flick through Vogue, Dazed, I.D and Japanese Street Style magazine. I tend to buy a lot of foreign magazines when I am traveling, Italy do an entire Vogue magazine decided to shoes, its wonderful (Vogue Pelle).
17. What are your favorite musicians and songs?
My tastes are very eclectic, I like anything from Kings of Leon, to Justice, Hot Chip and Nina Simone. I love abit of 90s dance when I am working late in the studio to keep me awake!
18. What’s your favorite color?
A real coral pink.
19. If you could be anyone in history, who would you be?
I wouldn’t be able to choose between Charles Rennie Macintosh, Christian Dior and Henry Moore. (Funny that they are all men!!)
20. What is your favorite city?Nagoya, Japan.