Anya Hindmarch founded her self-named brand in London in 1987 and in the last 35 years it has grown into a globally-renowned name. In this interview, RLI speaks with Anya about the evolution of the company and how it has become known for its luxury, organisation-obsessed accessories and its revolutionary work in the sustainability sector.
Inaugurating the business when she was just 18, its initial beginnings saw Anya designing bags that, after some persuasion, were produced in a small factory in Florence before being sold by her back in London. Today, Anya Hindmarch is a global, digital brand with its own stores and key wholesale partners globally.
“It has been a long and fascinating journey to get where we are today, but I have always loved working with leather, great craftspeople and feel that today we have defined our niche place in the market,” explains Anya Hindmarch, Founder of the eponymous brand.
The company’s physical store portfolio consists of The Village, a selection of five stores on Pont Street in Chelsea, London which was the home of their very first store. Also in London is their flagship on Sloane Street and they have locations in Causeway Bay and The Landmark Central in Hong Kong.
Internationally, Anya Hindmarch is available at some of the world’s leading retailers, including NET-A-PORTER, MatchesFashion, Harrods, Selfridges, Liberty, Bergdorf Goodman, United Arrows and Luisa Via Roma, whilst in Japan the brand is available in shop-in-shops with Isetan Mitsukoshi and Takashimaya.
“We feel strongly that for new stores to come to fruition, we need them to offer a real reason to visit, where there is an opportunity to experience something that you cannot find online. This was our long-term vision before the pandemic and the recent changing market conditions have cemented that view for us,” Hindmarch explains.
The latest store opening for the brand is The Village which launched in May last year and is home to a collection of unique spaces and activations. A project that is very close to home for Anya and two years in the making, The Village is the antithesis of cookie cutter stores across the world. The Village is personal, creatively exciting and it is truly authentic to what the brand stands for and what it cares about.
At the heart of The Village is the Anya Café, a small and special place which offers a menu of British classics including toasties and salads, afternoon teas, cakes and biscuits which are all made with the most exquisite ingredients. Meanwhile the Village Hall offers people a place to be super creative, changing concept every six to eight weeks. To date it has been a hairdresser, nail salon, Christmas grotto, dry off licence and currently it is a doggie butchers to celebrate the brands first collection for dogs and their owners. The Labelled Store is a homage to Anya’s love of organisation and personalisation and The Plastic Store is a space that showcases their work, and the work of others, in the spaces of sustainability, reuse and circularity.
“Finally we have the Bespoke store which is our original store. It is a very special place for me, and somewhere you can get something made with your name on, not mine. These are special gifts that mark moments in time and are intended to last for generations,” Hindmarch explains.
As she looks ahead to the next couple of years, Anya explains that the recently launched Return To Nature initiative, which is a collection that can be composted at the end of life and actually benefit soil health that moves the conversation on from reduction and reuse to trying to mimic natures circularity, will be a core part of their collection going forward and they want to use it as an education platform to share across the world.
Also in the pipeline is the expansion of their Universal Bag, which has launched in the UK already with Sainsbury’s and Waitrose and in the near future it will be launched with select partners globally and is a project which aims to keep reducing single use plastic in supermarkets and encourage greater reuse.
“In all our future projects, we will keep using our platform to drive education and discussion around sustainability always paying heed to the mantra ‘progress, not perfection’ when talking about this subject,” says Hindmarch.
On the topic of social media and digital mediums, Anya explains that she loves having a direct relationship with the community and embraces the opportunities digital and social offers to really get to know their people and she feels it is this mix of digital elements, along with the brick-and-mortar presence of the brand that will be key to their future retail strategy.
“We have a clear and well-defined purpose and reason for being – craftsmanship, personalisation and a touch of humour. It is these three pillars, combined with our commitment to making products responsibly, keeps us focused, drives us forward and inspires us,” says Hindmarch.
“It has been a long journey to get where we are, and one with plenty of challenges along the way. The greatest challenge is probably to continue to navigate the business through an uncertain future for retail and what we cannot yet see. But this is also the greatest joy and why I love doing what I do, we can be nimble and responsive and enjoy the journey.”