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Stylenotes Q&A with Toni Hacker of Hayden-Harnett

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When Toni Hacker decided in 2005 to create her own fashion and accessories line, she took her enthused boyfriend, Ben Harnett, in tow. The two sketched their initials -- H and H -- onto a paper napkin at breakfast one day, and suddenly a brand was born; however, they deemed "Hacker-Harnett" too harsh a name for a line that creates items with a slightly whimsical, retro feel. The name was better-suited for a law firm, they thought, so they altered the name to Hayden-Harnett, which Hacker has since appropriated for the fictitious girl she designs for. Everything about the label -- the 60s-era French prints, ladylike kisslock frames, exceptionally buttery leather, throwback product names such as the Bardot jacket -- are designed for this imagined Ms. HH. Still, stylenotes spoke with Toni Hacker about the label and learned that just about anyone can be a Hayden-Harnett girl.

Stylenotes: How would you describe your design aesthetic? What inspires it?

Toni Hacker: Hayden-Harnett was created to fulfill a serious need for stylish, functional leather handbags. My background is in Product/Industrial design, so ultimately everything that I create needs to really work for the end consumer. With so many products existing in the world, I feel it's really important for designers to create items that are useful, beautiful, and inspiring to the imagination. Living in Brooklyn ultimately inspires our aesthetic. Greenpoint, our neighborhood, is a wonderful place to live in NYC. I love that it's such a mix of high and low, old and new, creative people, musicians, writers, professionals, and amazing people living life in their own unique way. In Greenpoint, it's easy to ponder exactly what you can create to satisfy a fashion need for so many busy and eclectic people. I also love that our neighborhood is environmentally concerned and politically aware... that's very inspiring to me!

SN: What type of girl wears Hayden-Harnett?

TH: She's stylish, creative, loves quality, appreciates luxury, and wants to be unique. We appeal to a great age range, according to our retailers: women ages 16-60. I LOVE that! To be able to satisfy a particular need for so many women makes me really happy. That's what design is all about. We're not about exclusivity or projecting a "you're not cool enough for this" vibe. HH is all about the positive. I hope that everyone who shops our line will find something that they love, find useful, and are inspired by.

SN: Are there any standout pieces that you would recommend to a first-time shopper?

TH: For a first time Hayden-Harnett buyer, I would recommend the following items:

  • Havana Hobo: It's our best-selling handbag for a reason. It really goes anywhere and works for casual and dressy.
  • Ibiza Flight Tote: I cannot live without this bag. Perfect for all your travel and commuting needs and holds your laptop.
  • Lido Zipper Wallet (in a print): So functional, holds everything, and a fun printed item in your bag is a must.
  • Audrey Rope Print Trench: So stylish and perfectly light weight for warm weather. The print is classic, but fun.
  • Maggie May Colorblock Knit Dress: Perfect for work and going out. Great for travel as it's so lightweight and easy.

  • SN: Who are your favorite designers?

    TH: My all time design hero (is) Philippe Starck. His taste and range is simply incredible. I would give anything to work and learn from him.

SN: Do you shop online?

TH: I am a huge fan of online shopping, just ask anyone who knows me! I love that you can see so many things online at once and comparison shop. The web is the greatest thing that ever happened to independent designers. The web has really leveled the playing field for public exposure of small brands. My favorite online shopping sites are: Anthropologie (I am constantly impressed by what they offer and how I never realized I needed, say, a silvered porcelain mushroom coffee mug); Bird (a great Brooklyn boutique); eBay (I can really plow through vintage items for inspiration and details that I'm hot on the trail of); Saffron Rouge (great organic skincare products); Endless.com (I am such a shoe fanatic); Yee-Haw (owned by my friends Kevin and Julie in Knoxville, TN. They make everything themselves and it's all 100% hilarious and perfect); MatterMatters.com (omg! everything is so cleverly designed and amazing); Eskell (the only thing I wear outside of HH); Shopinbliss.com (great novelty and jewelry items and the prices are UNREAL!)

SN: What do you buy the most online?

TH: Shoes and beauty products. Lately unique jewelry is what I'm buying the most of. So many amazing indie jewelry designers out there.

SN: What is the best fashion find/deal you've purchased, that perhaps you brag about to your friends?

TH: The vintage scrimshaw jewelry pieces that I've been digging up on eBay lately. So amazing and romantic!

SN: What sites are you addicted to?

TH: I always check out Refinery29.com. They really do a great job with unearthing new designers and products. Stylehive.com is superfun. I also have a serious addiction to GoFugYourself.com... perfect for when I need a celeb/snark fix.

SN: What are three items every girl should have? What are the three items you always have with you/can't live without?

TH: Every girl worth her style salt needs a fabulous leather bag, a perfect tote/travel bag, and the shoes need to be 100% divine. The three items I cannot live without: Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Milk (seriously, I panic if I'm running low), my Ibiza Flight Tote, and my Ramone studded cuff in black.

Indulge in the rich prints, materials, and styles of Hayden-Harnett, and you'll further enhance your own "style salt" in no time!.

-- Lindsay Sakraida

DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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