Lessons in Cool: Designer Anya Hindmarch on Style & Sustainability

  • Written By:Alexandra Perron, Managing Editor
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I’m a strong believer in kindness and to always be respectful.

- Anya Hindmarch

Welcome to Lessons In Cool, a new series all about the people we’re constantly inspired by. They are tastemakers, curators of style, thought leaders, and well, just cool.

Anya Hindmarch’s cheeky and chic designs have been spotted everywhere from red carpets to the covers of fashion magazines. Known for iconic designs like the Crisp Packet Clutch and the “I Am A Plastic Bag” Tote, she finds inspiration just about everywhere. “People inspire me as well as architecture, travel and chocolate,” she says. “Our famous Crisp packet clutch was a piece quite literally inspired by a packet of crisps and my love of giving everyday items a luxury treatment by incredible craftsmen.”

Hindmarch started her brand when she was just 19 years old, but she knew long before that design was her path. “At age 16 I borrowed a Gucci bag from my mother and was completely fascinated,” says Hindmarch. “I remember thinking how beautiful it was and wondering how it was made. It’s like holding a nice steering wheel in your hands or buying a great new pair of trainers. I’m not a frilly fashion person, I don’t live and die by it. I see it as something to collect, like beautiful art that makes you feel better.”

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She’s made a name for herself not only for her innovative designs, but for her focus on sustainability and environmental responsibility, understanding the importance of both reusing materials and investing in alternatives. “My recent projects were born out of my passion for keeping materials in circulation,” says Hindmarch. “A few weeks ago we launched our ‘Return To Nature’ project, which is a collection of bags that can completely biodegrade and return back to the soil and provide nutrients. I hope that with this project we can inspire other brands to do better and to investigate these alternatives.”

Heading into the holidays, we caught up with the designer to hear more about her work, inspirations, must-have beauty products, and what cool means to her.

Name & occupation:

Anya Hindmarch, Founder of Anya Hindmarch

First thing you do in the morning:

A cup of English Breakfast tea and a walk with a friend. A lockdown habit that is here to stay.

Biggest career challenge?

There have been so many! Building a business is never a straight line, but I have learnt that there is a process for me once an idea has bubbled up that goes something like, ‘I love it – It’s amazing – I’m nervous – I’m bored of it – It’s hard – I’m not sure – It’s really hard – I hate it – Maybe it’s OK? – I really hate it – I hate myself – Actually, it’s OK – I like it – In fact, it’s great – I love it.’ Once a concept has survived that process, I can then enjoy bringing it to life.

Biggest inspiration?

I find inspiration in so much of the everyday around me – how people behave, the things that happen to us. I love the creativity of London and galleries, shows and exhibitions being open again.

Last person you texted:

Probably one of the children.

Most scrolled app or site:

Probably Instagram, I love connecting with our customers and community and seeing them interact with the brand, it brings great joy to what we do as a team.

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Anya Hindmarch In-Flight Case

What are the 5 beauty products you can’t live without?

Your style icon?

It is more about attitude for me—someone comfortable in their own skin, style over trends.

The Anya Hindmarch bag/accessory you always have on you:

A ‘loose pocket’ where I store all the bits and bobs I need to carry from one bag to another.

Your go-to:

Breakfast: English breakfast tea, toast and marmalade.

Lunch: Usually something quick at the office.

Dinner: Anything as long as I am round the table with my close friends with a glass of wine.

Cocktail: A negroni on a Friday evening.

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There’s something about washing your hair that feels like a clean start, like you’ve washed all the problems away.

- Anya Hindmarch

Advice you’d give your younger self:

Funnily enough, the title of my book: If In Doubt, Wash Your Hair. People often ask me at the talks I do what my best bit of advice might be and it’s always “if in doubt, wash your hair”, which is a really trivial bit of advice but if you make a bit of time for yourself, your day feels better. There’s something about washing your hair that feels like a clean start, like you’ve washed all the problems away.

What do you love most about your work?

I love spotting my designs being worn when I am out and about—it gives me real joy, and a sense of achievement, to think I might have brought a little bit of joy to that person.

What is most important to you as a designer and founder?

Be kind. I’m a strong believer in kindness and to always be respectful because what goes around, comes around. I also embrace the art of micro-gifting—spontaneously buying someone a little something you know they would enjoy. It acts like a positive spiral because if you’re nice to someone, they tend to be nice back.

What does “cool” mean to you?

Being yourself.

For more from Anya Hindmarch, follow her at @anyahindmarch.

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