Pretend you’re deep in resort life with Hej Hej’s new collection
Strong, durable and breathable — linen is the best way to nail summer. As Hej Hej embark on a new chapter in the brand’s timeline with a rebrand and a new collection, we chat with co-founder Alice Isles and their rebrand partner, OMSE.
Photographed by Adam Bryce
HMU by Binh Minh Ha
Styled by Alice Isles
Studio Symmetry Studio
ALICE ISLES, CO-FOUNDER OF HEJ HEJ
Who is Hej Hej for?
For girls with equal parts attitude and style, Hej Hej offers effortless luxury with unfiltered personality. It is for people who don’t try too hard or take life too seriously, they’re confident in their own skin and take a relaxed approach to fashion.
In a world where luxury can be serious and stuffy, Hej Hej brings a more colourful and irreverent approach. With 100 per cent linen dresses, pants, tops and jumpsuits to knitwear made from cashmere, mohair, cotton and silk, our pieces are luxurious yet effortless to wear, made for day-in, and day-out.
Linen plays a big role in hej hej’s ongoing collections. Why linen?
Our love of linen started when we were both living in Asia. During the baking-hot summers, linen dresses were, by far, the best way to beat the heat and we were getting them tailored at our local fabric markets. We loved that linen was breathable, comfortable to wear and looked great in any colour or design.
When we started Hej Hej, we chose to work with 100 per cent linen only. The fact it is natural and lasts for a really long time was important as we want people to be able to keep wearing their Hej Hej forever. With Kiki [Judd, co-founder] based in Shanghai, we’re able to source a range of different weights, textures and colours so we can create anything from tailored blazers to big floaty dresses all from the same fabric but with totally different effects.
This year has changed the future of the fashion industry (in some ways, for the better). What are your goals and focus for the brand moving forward?
2020 has given us the opportunity to put our business under the microscope. As a small, direct-to-consumer brand we’re not tied to fashion calendars or wholesaling; instead our customers are our entire focus. While we are still a young company, we have an amazingly loyal following and we have learnt a lot about what they really want from us as a brand.
Moving forward, our goal as a brand is to act with integrity in everything we do, bring a healthy dose of unfiltered personality and positive energy, and create luxurious pieces that people will want to wear every day and keep forever.
Since you started the brand, how has your vision changed?
Since we started Hej Hej, we’ve been on a mission to bring more colour and personality to the world. Our vision has always been to develop a more creative and international visual identity to represent our brand ethos that luxury can be playful and fashion can be effortless. This year, we had the opportunity to work with London-based, independent digital design studio, OMSE, to bring our vision to life.
How did you connect with OMSE and why did you choose to work with them on the rebrand?
We met James Kape from OMSE through Kiki’s husband and his company, Peddlers Gin Co. We knew that, through working with OMSE, we could create a meaningful brand and not just something that ‘looked cool’. Their process focuses on strategic and conceptual thinking and building a compelling brand story which was really important to us.
We also worked with an award-winning digital type foundry based in London called FamilyType. The founder, Briton Smith, was also a founder of OMSE and he helped us select our custom font, Athletics. Athletics is perfect for Hej Hej as it allows us to communicate in a way that is playful but still confident.
JAMES KAPE, CO-FOUNDER OF OMSE
When approaching a new project (like the one you carried out with Hej Hej), what are your first steps in establishing a re-brand?
We typically start with a discovery session with the aim to learn as much as possible about why the rebrand is taking place and how we can help. Questions such as what’s unique about your offer, how has the business changed over time and what are your goals for the future.
This helps us build a snapshot of the business and can identify where the opportunities lie.
What were the key values and ideas that informed the journey you took Hej Hej on?
We wanted to build upon the work of Joseph (Kiki’s husband) as he’d come up with a solid
strategy for the brand. He defined Hej Hej’s unique selling proposition as ‘unfiltered personality’ so we looked to amplify this by leading with their tone of voice. A playful design system supported this thinking and gave us an effective way to communicate their other key differentiators: cheeky, witty and playful.
Why is a re-brand important? How often should brands look to refresh or take a look at where they sit in the market?
Re-brands are important because they help communicate significant change and, in some cases, solve problems. It’s hard to say exactly how often a refresh or rebrand should be considered because every brand is different.
Is this the first time you’ve worked with a client in New Zealand? Were there logistical and communication challenges?
No, not the first time. For the past five years, we’ve worked closely with Rhythm & Vines to refresh their identity each year, so we are fairly well versed in late night or early morning zoom calls, depending on the time difference. Kiki and Alice were also super fast at replying to any questions we had over email so we were never held back when it came to solving problems.
How does working with a fashion brand differ to any other type of brand? Or does it not change the process?
We approach every branding job with the same core process. We always look to challenge our clients to think boldly, as this helps us to create brands that are unique. So no, it doesn’t change the process but working across different sections does help us to think differently and challenge the norm in categories which might be considered more safe.
Describe the new Hej Hej to us?
Unfiltered, playful and sophisticated.