When Emma Hill CBE and Georgia Fendley joined forces to create the luxury British handbag brand Hill & Friends 16 months ago, they ignited an instant cult following. Their host of A-list admirers share a penchant for luxury with a subversive wink. For the winter season ahead, the brand expands its leopard print offering in vibrant green, a new technology leather skin, and metallic shoulder bags with their signature wink-and-go lock.
“There’s a combination of quality and playfulness that Emma manages to get into the product,”Fendley tells Vogue Arabia. Hill & Friends has expanded on its Happy and Lucky lines with a Forever Friends collection that elicits an instant coquettish smile from the wearer, but with the functionality at the forefront of the design. “Women have really busy lives with children and jobs and everything else, so first and foremost we want bags that are really luxurious and really practical,”says Fendley.
As the fashion house unveiled its fourth collection at London Fashion Week for Fall 2017, Hill and Fendley spoke to Vogue Arabia about the brand’s next-level plans, how much you can really fit into one roomy tote, and the recommended key styles that they think the Middle Eastern woman would delight in. Here’s the lowdown on what you need to know from the Café Royal event, Bell Boys and sweet treats included.
“The jelly bean green leopard print calf hair; the color is so vibrant,” Fendley recommends for the Middle Eastern customer. “We are such a leopard brand,” Hill tells Vogue Arabia, “For this season we have it on a calf skin, so that would suit a hot climate better than the hair finish.” Amongst the gold gild décor of the Royal Café, the new collection is dotted around on pedestals, with Bell Boys floating about the event with trays of confectionary and hearty pies—a metaphor for the brand’s practical and tongue-in-cheek approach to luxury. Talking through the designs, Fendley reflects:
“Each of the silhouettes are ladylike and refined; subtle tongue-in-cheek wit cuts through the seriousness of the bag.”
“For us, that’s the perfect balance,” says Fendley, the co-founder.
So, what’s next for the dynamo brand? Hill’s outlook is explorative and far from secretive about plans to develop the brand with Ready-to-Wear. The designer reflects on a new level of freedom in the industry: “What’s interesting about RTW at the moment, is that it doesn’t have to be every single category. It’s about picking the things that you really love.”
While the brand is well-established in Europe, does it have its sights set on the region? “We have only just begun. We will be adding more categories to the accessories line. We would like to add Ready-to-Wear,” Fendley adds. “The Middle East is a very important region for us and that will take effect in six months’ time. The customer is really brave with materials and colors and that gives us a range of freedom,” Fendley expands as she scoops up a Happy Tweency bag in a “cookie” hue.
“We tend to think that we understand the market because a lot of Middle Eastern customers spend time in London, but actually we need to educate ourselves. That’s incredibly important for us.”