I recently spotted a fantastic skull and tassel necklace sported by our recent That Girl Danielle Huthart and I simply had to have it! After a few online searches, I tracked down this show-stopping creation and the designers behind it – BARNETT.
We have a chat with the Hong Kong-based Kate Barnett, who runs the line with her sister Bridget, and learn all the ins and out of what makes BARNETT a label to lust after!
What inspired you to start the BARNETT line? When was it founded?
It started a few years ago when I was going to an event and I couldn’t find anything to wear – I draped lots and lots of layered chains on a basic black look. I got so many comments that night that I was inspired to learn some more techniques. Friends and stylists borrowed them for shoots and from there on it steamrolled.
You run BARNETT with your sister. How is it working with family? Do you agree on the designs?
We’ve recently decided that if we both can’t agree on something we shouldn’t run with it. Most of the time we see eye to eye, but there’s a few trends we feel differently about so have to compromise – someone has to back down gracefully!
When you begin to design a new piece what inspires you?
We are both big fashion fans, so usually it’s something we want to wear with a particular trend. Or it can be as simple as a change of season, or a colour palette. I work in fashion trends and illustration, and Bridget lives and breathes it in London, so we are always looking at print and pattern, at illustration, magazines and blogs. I think if you’re surrounding yourself with information, paying attention to what people are styling on the street and the key shapes and looks of the season, it just happens naturally.
Where are your pieces available? How can we order them? [Sassy note: The necklaces are all HK$600! Glamorous and affordable!]
We have some pieces available in Van D (34B Staunton Street, Soho, Hong Kong, 2537 1103), but mostly we sell via our blog, on Facebook and though email online requests. We’ve been finding it works well that way as we can deal with requests individually; we will have to formally set up an e-store as we grow.
What is your take on Hong Kong women’s style?
The best layer-ers in world! HK ladies do it like none other. I like that there’s no fear of colour and print here either. It’s not always done right… but when it is, it’s genius! I really like the confidence Hong Kong women have to explore different garment shapes and textiles too.
What do you find exciting right now in fashion?
We’ve really embraced the surf trend, but I think it’s more a way of life rather than a trend for us as we come from a sunny beach town. I’m excited about the increasing ability for people to just fearlessly mix colour and print with pieces of jewellery to create something of their own. I think that’s when I really feel inspired with fashion, when you can visualize yourself in it – that’s why I’ve always liked ready-to-wear collections, resort in particular.
Are there any celebs that you would love to see your pieces on?
I’m crazy for the musician Lana Del Rey at the moment. Bridget is going to say Kate Bosworth, and I have to agree, she’s pretty amazing. I can see her in a long tassel necklace.
How do you intend women to feel while wearing your pieces?
I think at the end of the day I want people to feel like they have something special. We still construct our necklaces ourselves and they aren’t pieces you will see a lot of other girls wearing. With the dominance of the high street in all of our wardrobes (or most people we know at least!) it’s really good just to have something to individualize your look – ‘Street shot’ ready! If you have a statement necklace on you’ve already won half the battle in feeling dressed.
What is next for BARNETT?
Ohhhh that’s too hard of a question! We are so excited about getting things moving this year. Start laying the groundwork for a new collection and diversify, explore using different materials. I’d like to collaborate with some other designers too; there’s lot of people doing rad stuff out there, we want to be part of it.
Buy BARNETT jewellery from Van D, 34B Staunton Street, Soho, Hong Kong, 2537 1103