New York-based fashion designer Gabriela Hearst launched her sustainable, eponymous label in 2015 and carved a niche on the global fashion map with the ‘Nina Bag’, which has a long waiting list. She is now at the helm of Chloé while continuing to be Creative Director of her own label.
Born in Uruguay, Gabriela Hearst grew up on her family’s ranch in Paysandu, surrounded by horses, cattle and sheep, where the perception of luxury meant things were beautifully crafted and made to last. Gabriela attended the British School in Montevideo and studied Communications at the O.R.T. University of Uruguay.
Gabriela Hearst debuted a contemporary women’s label ‘Candela’ in 2004 with T-shirts featuring silk-screened illustrations of a winged woman on top of a horse. In 2006, the label expanded to ready-to-wear and footwear. The designer then turned the focus on sustainability for her second ready-to-wear line, with existing materials and unused stock from factories. Her emphasis on sustainability results in a limited product offering, with demand far exceeding supply. After more than a decade spent in design in New York, Gabriela honored her family’s heritage through the launch of her eponymous label in Fall 2015, renowned for its craftsmanship and innovative materials, such as the anti-radiation fabric that shields against the radiation emitted by mobile phones—introduced in the Resort 2017 collection as lining for the jacket pockets—or the fine 14.5 micron merino wool and the aloe-treated linen introduced in the Resort 2018 collection, a sustainable and utilitarian process that softens the linen and gives the fabric the property to moisturise the wearer’s skin. What’s more, the label’s first bag ‘Nina Bag’ which started as a limited edition that Hearst gave to women she admired now has an extensive waiting list.
Sustainability is the foundation stone of the fashion brand. Her end-to-end production cycle helps minimise the environmental impact including the use of wool from Hearst’s own sheep farm in Uruguay. In 2017, her debut aimed at minimising the environmental waste through a no-plastic policy. The following year, Gabriela Hearst became the first fashion brand to introduce compostable bio-plastics for packaging, a flexible alternative to plastic that decomposes in compost within a few weeks. For SS20, Hearst to staged a carbon-neutral fashion show. She also worked on reducing the carbon footprint of her show by booking local models, using catering services that used local seasonal food and reduced appliances backstage. What’s more, Hearst also introduced a digital identity for her collections—in partnership with Eon—so she could use a QR Code to provide details of each garment’s origin, material, production process and carbon footprint. AW20 was themed around “waste” with outerwear made from repurposed Turkish kilim remnants; old pieces from Hearst stock were disassembled and reconstructed; and one third of the collection was made with recycled cashmere, hand-knitted by the Mano del Uruguay collective.
Philanthropy is another pillar. In June 2016, she collaborated with Tod’s to update their slip-on sneaker with a men’s brogue detail in Morse code that reads “love”—20 percent of proceeds went to Save the Children. In 2017 Hearst designed a sweater in support of Planned Parenthood, with a goal of raising $50,000 for the organisation. That year, she visited rural Turkana County, Kenya, with Save the Children President and CEO Carolyn Miles. In October 2017, Hearst partnered with Net-a-Porter and Bergdorf Goodman to raise awareness about the crisis there by making her handbag collection available to the public for the first time. For one week, bags were available for direct purchase online and at Bergdorf Goodman, New York. And, Hearst pledged a donation of $600,000 to Save the Children to give more than 1,000 families of the Turkana region the ability to buy food, water, and livestock. In September 2019, in collaboration with MyTheresa, Hearst launched a capsule collection to mark Save the Children centennial year and twenty percent of the proceeds went to support the organization’s Centennial Campaign. From 2 to 9 December 2019, Hearst donated 100 per cent of her brand’s net proceeds to Save the Children to support relief efforts in war-torn Yemen. For the Spring Summer 2020 show, all guests received a scarf featuring a print of extinct animals and Hearst made donations in their name to Our Children’s Trust, a nonprofit organization in Oregon that has filed lawsuits against governments for infringing on the children’s right to a stable climate system. And, from June 29 to July 12, 2020, Hearst teamed up with Net a Porter for a limited two weeks initiative to support Save the Children global relief efforts in the fight against COVID-19.
In 2018, Gabriela Hearst opened her first flagship store in New York. In sync with her culture of sustainability, the store was built using natural, non-treated reclaimed oak and built-in light occupancy sensors to reduce electrical consumption. In August, she opened a store in London, designed by Norman Foster and sustainably built using reclaimed wood and non-toxic, vegetable dyed leather and linen curtains. Simultaneously, Gabriela Hearst opened a shop-in-shop at Harrods, also designed by Norman Foster. There was no looking back. In December 2020, she was appointed Creative Director of luxury prêt brand Chloé, launched in 1952 by Gaby Aghion to give women the freedom to dare to be themselves; today the design aesthetic at Chloé continues to reflect that spirit.In November 2022, Hearst participated at the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt to discuss the critical role fusion power has in the fight against climate change and then dedicated Chloé Spring Summer 2023 to creating awareness around fusion energy. The fashion designer now aspires to use 80 per cent deadstock in 2023.
Luxury with a conscience
Founder Gabriela Hearst
Menswear, womenswear and accessories
Gabriela Hearst has a number of awards to her name. In 2016, she was awarded Woolmark Womenswear USA and the following year she won Woolmark Womenswear International Prize. In 2018 she won Pratt Institute’s Pratt Fashion Visionary Award and in 2020 she was named CFDA American Womenswear Designer of the Year. The same year she won The Fashion Awards: Environment
and in 2021, Frank Alvah Parsons Award Sustainability. In 2021, she won The Fashion Awards Leaders of Change Award, Environment and more recently in 2022, The Fashion Awards Leaders of Change, Environment.