Robb Interview: Jeremy Hershan
A talented alum of Savile Row and most recently head of design at RM Williams – Hershan branches out with an eponymous label and practical debut product.
Jeremy Hershan’s gentle manner belies what is an acute and impassioned drive.
From RMIT he found early work under Kris Van Assche (ex Dior Homme and now Berluti’s creative director) before a move to London and time spent at historical outfitters Gieves & Hawkes, Aquascutum and Dunhill.
It was in 2015 that RM Williams brought him back to Australia – as the new head of design charged with dusting things off as the local label looked to update and head overseas under the then stewardship of LVMH.
Cut to now and the 38-year-old today unveils his exciting next chapter – an eponymous label that begins, somewhat surprisingly, with a bag. Though not just any bag.
Robb Report: So, it’s been two years since you left RM – has that time been spent busily working away on this bold debut?
Jeremy Hershan: I actually consulted back to RM and then also some other brands in Australia and also Europe – but the ambition was to always do something for myself and so I started immediately working on something as soon as I left RM, yes.
RR: And it was always bag-focused … ?
JH: I’d always wanted to create an Australian lifestyle brand with a modern feel, one without the hang-ups of heritage brands. And as a start-up, I had to be conscious of where to focus first. It had to be gender neutral and then we’d build and expand from there. And the right bag was always missing from my day-to-day wardrobe – I’ve always pursued pieces overseas or vintage samples, but never quite found the right products, those that spoke of quality and craftsmanship and timelessness — things that drive me. And I also felt there was a gap in the market for beautiful, hard-wearing tote bags …
RR: Why the tote over another shape?
JH: I’d always used them – always my day-to-day shape for a bag and I felt that if I could create one that was broad in its appeal, and had those cue points I look for in a product, then people would pick up on it. It’s also a democratic shape and anyone can find a use for it – to do the shopping, for commuting, at the beach and so on – it’s very practical.
RR: We understand these are made in Portugal?
JH: Yes. My supply base for Dunhill and in Europe came from there – I spent a lot of time there over the years and was also purposefully looking for suppliers I thought I’d want to incorporate into my own concept. I stumbled across a little factory – they started off making schoolbags 40 years ago and now do premium leather goods for the likes of Jacquemus and APC and other really nice internationals brands … The fabric is woven on these vintage shuttle looms – the last of their kind in Portugal – and I worked with the weaver to come up with a really sturdy fabric.
The bags are also woven to the exact size that’s needed, so there’s no waste in the cutting and you get this beautiful product with some character and which just gets better with time.
RR: There is a sense of timelessness to what’s being offered.
JH: The ethos behind the brand is about enduring goods – encompassing timeless design and quality and products which are built to last.
RR: And the new campaign plays to a time of the past – all dappled light and ‘70s nostalgia.
JH: I’ve always been inspired by films and music of that period – I’m very passionate about storytelling and for me, I took the opportunity to tell this story about creatives who travel and who take inspiration from far off destinations. I wanted to work with this particular duo of photographers, Arturo & Bamboo. They happen to spend summers on Hydra in Greece – for me that was inspirational because of the ‘60s bohemians and their back story and the fact Leonard Cohen would live and write there. I sent them some bags and said to just live with them, use them and document it and that’s how I have this beautiful, nostalgic and filmic story.
RR: Ultimately, after all you’ve done and who you’ve worked for, it must be very pleasing to see your name on these debut products?
JH: I actually went through various iterations of what it could be, but couldn’t live with them. But then I have to live with my name …
RR: What’s the plan from here in regards to growing the label and its offerings?
JH: It’s about building this wardrobe of enduring goods that I add to over time and which begins with these utility tote bags. Early next year there’s a follow-up with extensions to the bags and then, mid next-year building a gender neutral clothing wardrobe.
Hershan’s line of utility totes is now available, from $425; hershan.com