SS20 Capsule Collection Release Interview with Courtney Hilley

SS20 Capsule Collection Release Interview with Courtney Hilley

How old were you when you designed your first piece of clothing?

When I was in the fourth grade, I used to design and draw gowns and different pieces for my friends and myself. I’d actually forgotten that until I found a folder with some old drawings a couple of years ago. I made any costumes I needed with my grandmother when I was young, but as far as designing and sewing a piece of clothing to wear, I made my first piece my senior year of high school- a red, high waisted maxi skirt.

What are 2 principles you wish people would adopt when it comes to their wardrobe?

Investment is cheaper than buying cheap. Sustainability in our wardrobes has to be intentional, and a capsule wardrobe of natural fabrics is a great way to step into that. 

Why did you design these pieces, and when? 

The summer of 2018 was hot, per usual in Mobile, but especially so. I bought linen that fall, but didn’t have the time to make pieces until the next spring. Over the course of the next few months, I made more and more linen basics, so that I could wear linen every day, to help me stay cooler. By June 2019, I had thirteen pieces. I was blown away by the comfort, but also how incredibly well the linen wore over time, and with excessive use. I wore at least one piece that I made every day that summer and fall, and during that time, multiple people asked me where I bought my pieces, and if they were for sale, which was a pleasant surprise. 

What is your goal in releasing these pieces?

I believe that these pieces are a practical, beautiful beginning to any sub-tropical wardrobe. I have enjoyed them so much, and I believe that they are solid, timeless pieces that we (myself included) will be able to use as building blocks in our wardrobes for years to come. Linen is such an incredible fabric that wears so beautifully over time, and I hope that I can help people introduce sustainable, well made and thoughtfully designed pieces into their lives that make them feel put together, helpful towards our earth and the people on it, and much, much cooler in the heat.

Who is the woman who would wear your clothing? 

I originally designed these pieces for myself, and in that, I guess I could tell you the way they make me feel personally, because I am that woman. I do, however, know that there are a lot of women like myself out there, and I believe and hope that these clothes will make them feel better connected to themselves in the same way that these pieces have made me feel connected to who I am. I feel honest, I feel connected to the earth, and pulled to be in nature, near water, and on frequent picnics. I want to be silent more, I want to listen to the wind and birds and water more. I feel like I’m kinder to my body, because the clothes were designed with no specific age in mind. I feel confident, but simple-and I mean simple in the most full, beautiful way-simplicity is one of my favorite things, in any art form. I believe simplicity makes things more interesting, and leaves less room for nonsense. I believe the world needs more simplicity. These clothes are designed for daily luxury, but durable enough for daily work. They are resort pieces you can wear to work, and work clothes you can wear to the resort. The woman who wears these pieces works with her hands and finds joy in her work, but knows that times of rest and relaxation, peace and celebration are just as important.

Are there any artists or designers that inspire you?

I think that in this capsule line, I have leaned into architecture and our climate as an inspiration more so than another clothing designer, but I do have favorites, and I feel like they inspire me in different ways. Christian Dior is probably my favorite, because of the timelessness of his designs and his knowledge of the female body. He reminds me that pursuit of the human form, female or male, will always lead designers in a good direction. I absolutely love William Morris, his philosophies and his work. I have a distaste for almost any pattern, and yet I have loved a few, only to later find out that my favorite girlhood patterns were all designed by the same man. His core belief that all people should be able to have beautiful houses [and clothes], regardless of economic class is a core belief of mine, as is his “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Such a beautiful mind. I love half of Gucci and hate the other half, but they inspire me to have fun and take design chances, because sometimes I forget to play. Rapid fire now: Tuuli-Tytti Koivula. Chef Renee Erickson. Truly and honestly, my husband Christian Hilley. Ruth Carter. Sevilla Smith. Cre Natural Builders. Porada Furniture Design Team.

What would you say to the woman on the fence about spending more on your clothing than another, cheaper, (h&m/etc) clothing store?

I would first tell her that I know where she is coming from, but show her that investment is a much better use of her money than multiple cheaper purchases. I would reassure her that the pieces in this line will last much longer, wear much better, and that her money will be going directly to support a short line of women who will be taken care of and are earning good wages. The same amount of money will be spent-whether it’s on one piece that she will enjoy for a long time, or on one piece plus two additional pieces she’ll need to replace the first, once they wear out in the coming months. Sustainable buying happens intentionally, and if you choose to spend your money here, there is a traceable line from pattern design, to fabric creation and purchase, to creation of garment that she can feel good about, instead of hoping that ethical practices are being used in the warehouses of bigger, cheaper brands. These clothes will also be sewn custom for her order, and there’s no better feeling than to know that someone made something specifically with you in mind.

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