h

A Green Mood

MEET HAI: AN INTERVIEW WITH TESSA VERMEULEN

HAI TESSA. PLEASE SHARE, WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND LAUNCHING YOUR LABEL?

This is a hard question because the roots of Hai have been in my mind for a really long time, so it’s difficult to pinpoint just one thing. Hai comes out of my own childhood, growing up between Shanghai and The Netherlands, and the respect I developed for Chinese silk and manufacturing processes too. But the brand has also developed in my mind over the past ten years, when I was living in London, and working mainly in music, but always with this real focus and interest in, not fashion necessarily, but just very good style; style that’s assured and confident.

 

YOUR BRAND CENTRES ON ITS USE OF CHINESE MULBERRY SILK. WHAT DREW YOU TO THIS MATERIAL?

The quality, beauty and timelessness of the fabric. I think silk is really special because it’s almost outside of trends; you can wear it at any age or occasion and it will just always carry this elegance with it. I love the idea that you can buy a silk piece, treat it with care and have it for life.

 

h

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGN PROCESS?

I think so much of what we try and capture at Hai is about not really adhering to the fashion cycle. We’re trying to create pieces that are eternally stylish, so I don’t really look to what’s happening in fashion in terms of inspiration, instead I think about the items I’ve had myself that I’ve used forever. ‘Why does that one bag give me confidence every time I wear it? What is it about the shape of my favourite dress that makes it so easy to wear?’ For me, thinking through this is really integral to how we create Hai pieces.

 

HOW HAVE YOUR IDEAS EVOLVED OVER TIME, AND DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVOURITE BAGS?

As my confidence in the brand, in creating these bags, and now garments too, has grown, my ideas have become more playful over the years. I almost feel that the more I’ve worked on developing these bags, the bolder my ideas get too; ideas often lead to other ideas.

My current favourite is our Vera bag – we have a red and pink one coming out for our Summer ‘22 collection which is definitely my favourite combination, but my most used one would probably be our cross body. I find it’s the perfect size, and I can just forget about it when I’m wearing it.

 

h

WHAT DO YOU MISS THE MOST ABOUT YOUR TIME IN SHANGHAI?

Family, friends, adventure, the food, the tree-lined streets, the possibilities (but that might have been because I was younger!)

 

YOU DESCRIBE THE HAI COMMUNITY AS “FREE SPIRITS.” WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU? 

Living life authentically. For me that’s people who are just always authentically themselves, I think we all recognise these people when we meet them.

 

h

WE’RE SO GLAD YOU’RE PART OF THE ONLOAN FAMILY. WHAT DOES SUSTAINABILITY MEAN TO YOU? 

Sustainability has maybe become a bit of a buzz word now, which is such a shame as it’s so important. I think it’s about living gently, and maybe also trying to tune out the constant pressure of the new; always having new things, a new look, wanting something else. I guess for clothes that can be as simple as buying rarely, and trying to endeavour to only look for pieces you’ll have for a really long time.

My mother still has dresses she wore 20 years ago, and maybe they were slightly expensive at the time, but she’ll mend them or have them tailored as needed, and they grow with her. To me that’s a perfect encapsulation of sustainability.

 

QUICK FIRE ROUND
  •   Music or podcast? Music
  •   Stay in or go out? Staying in with friends
  •   Painting or photography? Painting
  •   Beach or city? City by the beach?
  •   Vintage or modern? Vintage
  •   Portrait or Landscape? Landscape
  •   Sunrise or sunset? Sunrise
  •   Pastels or Bold colours? Pastels
  •   Learning a language or learning a craft ?
    Learning a craft
  •   Being special or being free? Being Free

MEET EMMA SLADE & HER SUSTAINABILITY TIPS

LEARN HOW TO ‘RENT SMART’ HERE