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Village life: an interview with Anya Hindmarch

From iced buns to monogrammed leather bags, The Anya Hindmarch Village charms and delights. The fashion designer talks about what inspired the concept and why people should pay it a visit

Fashion designer Anya Hindmarch CBE is always full of inventive ideas and renowned for wooing crowds with her big-scale installations and pop-ups during Fashion Week. This May, she opened The Village – a multi-shop space on Pont Street, which intersects Sloane Street and Cadogan Place – designed with her trademark wit, vibrancy and wisdom. Dedicated to fun and exploration, at the Anya Hindmarch Village you can kick back at the Anya Café while ordering a personalised ‘Be A Bag’ featuring your loved one’s portrait printed on it and browse Hindmarch’s Labelled range to better organise your life while enjoying the community spirit. We sat down with the indefatigable designer and businesswoman to hear all about the inspiration behind The Anya Hindmarch Village and what you can expect to find there:

When did you come up with the idea for The Village?

I had been experiencing a magnet feeling of wanting to go back to retail. I felt strongly that physical shops need to be authentic, local and have a reason – if it is the same as anything online, what’s the point? I had this idea of a village and it stems from the thought of people being more local than global over the next ten years, as we think about the planet. It’s a space where we can be properly present, as opposed to having 60 shops with the same windows from Singapore to LA. I wanted to have this space to play in and involve customers in and spark debate – it comes from all those things.

Why Pont Street and what does the neighbourhood represent to you?

Pont Street was where I had my ground floor shop in 1996, and my office underneath with a team of 15. I’m in the walls! I joke that I would like my ashes sprinkled on Pont Street. It’s an amazing thoroughfare and everyone drives through including the Queen and the Household Cavalry, who popped into the café for breakfast in June. The street is located just off Sloane Street, between Chelsea and Belgravia, and is a little backwater. Oscar Wilde used to say ‘things are very Pont Street’, which is lovely.

What can people expect to find at The Village?

It consists of five different spaces. The Labelled Shop is all about organisation and decluttering, and the collection is dedicated to that. The line includes commuter bags, make up pouches and even a lunch box. The Plastic Shop is dedicated to the I Am A Plastic Bag line (made of recycled plastic bottles) and that concerns circularity and the avoidance of landfill. The Bespoke Shop is where you can customise your designs choosing colourways, motifs and bag accessories. Anything you can handwrite or draw we can emboss onto leather. The process is very special too, and you do get involved in peoples’ lives.

The Village Hall is a corner space, which is ever-changing. We started with a hair salon to coincide with the launch of my book If in Doubt, Wash Your Hair: A Manual for Life (Bloomsbury 2021). People could book in groups and do a little pampering with friends. The Village Hall will change concept every 5-6 weeks and as of early July it is devoted to Be A Bag, which will run until early August. We were one of the first accessories brands to use digital printing, allowing customers to put their own pictures onto a bag. We are relaunching Be A Bag in a beautiful way with a limited edition of six styles with proceeds benefitting The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. We have a roster of cool photographers using the space downstairs so it’s a nice excuse to have a family photo or a pet portrait taken for a bag. What’s lovely is the space will change all the time, so there will always be something new to discover.

At the heart of The Village is the Anya Café, which is a very English café, reimagined with great ingredients, serving breakfast, lunch and cocktails. There are AH cakes in the shape of chubby hearts and clouds, smiley iced buns and hand-baked family favourite biscuits.

This idea of a village stems from the thought of people being more local than global over the next ten years

What are your future plans for The Village and what is proving popular?

There’s no limit as to what we can do, and we now have so many ideas that are being briefed in. Let’s look at why people go to shops and make it fun. We are selling lots of our rainbow-striped ‘I Am A Plastic Bag’ totes, which are made from plastic bottles destined for landfill, alongside monogrammed tennis bags, personalised tennis balls and multi zippered pocketed home office pouches – designed to store desk essentials – from the Labelled collection.

How has 2020/21 impacted on your work and life?

I’m not travelling and that’s a welcome change. The time to stay put has been important for me, and the planet, and maybe we can travel a bit less. Historically, I would have jumped on a plane to Japan for a three-day meeting. Over this period, we have looked at many aspects of the business, including our timetable in the fashion industry, circularity and how we could help in the pandemic – we made hospital gowns and bags for ICU units. It’s also been an opportunity to study how we work together as a team and what we can do for the planet ongoing.

Visit our brand directory page for further information on The Anya Hindmarch Village and its location.
Harriet Quick is a journalist, author and brand consultant specialising in fashion and style. She is contributing editor for British Vogue and How To Spend It.

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