I discovered AITCH AITCH through Positive Luxury last year, and was involved in the launch in January of this year. AITCH AITCH make beautiful handbags and accessories using salmon skin, a by-product of the fishing industry and an incredibly resilient skin, perfect for making bags to love and last for years and years. Getting to know Hailey Harmon, the founder, along with helping to support such a wonderful brand was an absolute delight.
One of the many things that I appreciate about this brand’s story is the combination of a US brand using a British studio to create the pieces. AV Studios has been tucked away off London’s Holloway Road for almost 20 years. With over 40 years combined experience between the team, it’s a handful of hidden talent – a real gem for those of us with a penchant for old craftsmanship.
AV Studios has been working with AITCH AITCH for just over three years – well before the brand actually launched, helping to bring the designs to life and creating the prototypes for the pieces that launched last year.
Spending two days in the studio, you can see the attention to detail and the consideration that goes into each AITCH AITCH piece – mainly bespoke, with every detail painstakingly considered. This is something that bodes well for Anthony Vrahimis, founder of AV Studios; “New designers tend to be more innovative, which inspires the team and enables us to use our own creativity.”
After my trip to the studio, I was keen to share the brand’s story, so caught up with Hailey who shared the story so far…
Talk me through the journey of AITCH AITCH...
AITCH AITCH really started for me when I was little. It’s funny how you dream of becoming something one day, and 20 some-odd years later, it actually happens. I went through many iterations of myself before I came to founding AITCH AITCH, but I always knew I wanted to start my own business. I grew up in a family that is very entrepreneurial, as well as there being a lot of time spent in nature.
What has been the greatest lesson of the process for you?
Patience is by and far the biggest lesson I’ve learned. I wanted to launch my brand so much earlier than I did, but I had to really look at how everything was falling into place and wait for the right time. I knew that running my own business would be hard, and the restraint to not push ahead was one of the more difficult things I’ve had to discipline myself with, then and now.
Why fish skin in the first place? How did you discover this?
I had initially heard about it through a colleague in business school, as a part of a conversation about sustainable materials, but I first saw and felt the material when I was travelling in Iceland. I totally fell in love with it. It has such a unique and beautiful underlying geometric pattern to it and is a natural by-product of the fishing industry, so it’s completely sustainable.
Salmon leather is naturally a delicate skin and requires expert skill and a steady hand. One thing that always seems to impress people is how durable it is – it seems so delicate due to the thinness, but it’s an incredibly resilient material.
Due to the relatively small size of the skins, as opposed to a hide, the studio and I have developed a panelling technique that really showcases the beauty of the raw material, whilst also minimising waste.
Why does sustainable fashion matter to you?
We use so much from our planet and create so much waste, it’s always been important to me to be conscious of what and how I interact with and consume materials and resources that are available to me. In terms of fashion specifically, I’ve seen first-hand that something that is made well, that may be more expensive, lasts longer and ends up costing less, or has a lower “cost per wear” than something less expensive and poorly made. The sad thing about poorly made pieces is that they’re often tied to factories and working conditions that are detrimental to human life and the environment as well.
How can we help sustainable fashion take over?
As consumers, the biggest thing you can do is buy ethically and sustainably sourced goods, and support the companies that are investing their time and effort into those practices. Becoming a brand advocate for the people you admire, and tell their story. As a brand, there is nothing more valuable than someone who owns a piece of your line telling their friends and family your story. It’s so exciting and motivating to get emails and purchases from people who heard about the brand through their friends or people they trust.
What are the plans ahead for AITCH AITCH?
So many plans! Getting the business going and keeping it going is always front of mind, but I’m excited to be developing some new colourways for early spring. I’m also working on a few secret projects that I can’t wait to share in the new year.
Take a look at the stunning collection over at AITCH-AITCH.com