14 June 2024

Anya Hindmarch’s quirky fashion legacy, as she’s made a dame

14 June 2024

English designer Anya Hindmarch has been made a dame in the King’s Birthday Honours for her services to fashion and business.

Previously awarded a CBE, Hindmarch, 55, is known for her humorous and quintessentially British bag designs.

Since launching her label in 1987, Hindmarch has established an eclectically versatile brand, accessorising stars from Kendall Jenner to the Princess of Wales.

Her career

Having travelled to Florence to study Italian in her late teens, Hindmarch discovered a leather drawstring duffle that she believed many women would love.

After borrowing money to import some to England, she sent one to fashion magazine Harpers & Queen – resulting in 500 orders for the style. So, at the age of 18 in 1987, Hindmarch began her business, later opening her first retail space in London in the early Nineties.

More shops around the world followed, and she quickly accrued a loyal following of A-listers and royals.

In 2001, Hindmarch launched her Be A Bag charity campaign, initially to support breast cancer awareness, but later championing other causes. The line allowed customers to have their own images printed onto bags. Endorsed by the likes of Elton John and Heidi Klum, the initiative became one of Hindmarch’s most recognisable trademarks.

Sustainability has long been a central part of Hindmarch’s brand. In 2007 she unveiled the I’m Not A Plastic Bag tote line to raise awareness of the waste and environmental damage perpetuated by plastic bags. Priced at £5 at Sainsbury’s, 800,000 bags were sold on launch day, and ignited huge amounts of debate around the use of plastic bags in the UK.

In her typical tongue-in-cheek manner, Hindmarch followed this up in 2020 with the ‘I Am A Plastic Bag’ collection – a line of bags made from cotton canvas-feel fabric that was created from recycled plastic bottles.

Throughout the 2010s, Hindmarch’s collections at London Fashion Week repeatedly turned heads. She became known for quirky shows, such as the autumn/winter 2013 presentation which featured 50,000 dominoes and 35 mouse traps, all toppling in unison around the Hindmarch’s latest bags.

Another memorable collection was the autumn/winter 2016 show, which took its inspiration from retro toys and games – the set resembled a Rubik’s Cube and models clutched bags with pixelated representations of Pac-Man and Space Invaders.

She’s also become known for several Instagram-worthy pop-up projects in London. From the Anya Mart, a local corner shop from yesteryear stocking household favourites and grocery-inspire produce, to The Ice Cream project: a concept store returning for its third year, serving unusual flavours like pickle ice cream and even a baked bean variety.

Her aesthetic

Hindmarch’s style combines a playful personality with traditional craftsmanship. From crisp packet constructions to suede-leather clutches, her statement or reserved designs offer an abundance of variety, which she herself makes light of in variety pack-esque raffia totes.

Hindmarch’s designs are rooted in British artistry, whether that be their references or craftsmanship, her irreverent styles spark global interest. The brand recently ignited interest online following the launch of a Nurofen charm, as worn by Lily Allen.

Hindmarch is also known for her retro-inspired designs – particularly the comic-eye motifs that permeate her accessories. The eye design proved so popular, that the line has now expanded to rattan and homewares.

Her signature looks

Hindmarch’s designs have been spotted on the likes of model Claudia Schiffer, singer Taylor Swift and most recently, Princess Eugenie at the Duke of Westminster’s wedding, who accessorised her outfit with a cream woven clutch bag.

Hindmarch’s signature Crisp Packet clutch has been worn by A-listers like singer Solange – who carried the gold edition to the 2014 Met Gala – to actor Emma Watson, who sported the chrome version to the Oscars that same year.

Hindmarch’s more refined designs have dressed both the late and current Princess of Wales – fans noted Diana’s use of the Anya clutch as her ‘cleavage bag’, as she would use it to hide her decolletage when stepping out of the car.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox