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Matthew Hegarty

Brand - Hegarty

I really want to design fashion for everyone

Matthew Hegarty is the founder of Hegarty, a ready-to-wear fashion brand based in London. The brand was founded with a fundamental premise of creating a collection of iconic outerwear that both women and men would want to wear every day, with a focus on distinctive design, enduring style, and an uncompromising quality that is all made sustainably in London with English fabrics. In an interview with Fibre2Fashion, Matthew talks about the distinctive style of his collections, his creative process, obstacles he faced while creating the brand, and a lot more.

Fibre2Fashion: What motivated you to create a fashion brand focused on outerwear, and what was the inspiration behind creating gender-neutral pieces?

Matthew Hegarty:

I started out as a fashion photographer, and so I was always looking at clothes and fashion. I felt in my core that making fashion was something I really had to do creatively. So, I started. I love coats and outerwear, and a fantastic coat or jacket can just make the outfit. Also, few of my favourite British designers make their pieces in the UK. I really felt that I wanted to create a fashion brand that begins with outerwear, that’s sustainable, and made in London, and next month marks Hegarty’s two-year anniversary!

For quite a while now gender fluidity has been far more apparent in fashion. I feel that so many pieces don’t need to be and shouldn’t be designed for one type of person. Certain pieces can be designed with a more inclusive scope. However, at the same time, I also feel that some pieces do look great and work if they are designed particularly for a woman or a man in mind. For example, when I look at any denim jacket, I love the boxy look that an oversized jacket can give to any person, and this was very much on my mind in the design process.


F2F: Could you elaborate on the distinctive design and style of your collections?


It isn’t enough to just say “I’m going to make a denim jacket or a trench coat.” There has to be something distinctive and unique about your collection. For example, my denim jacket has a raglan sleeve and a box pleat at the back. I can’t find anything like it, and it is unique and distinctive, but it’s also a denim jacket that’s wearable and looks great. All Hegarty pieces have a throughline that connects them all together to make the collection cohesive. I don’t want one single piece to stand out in a negative way. When I design a new piece, it has to make sense next to the others. The cloak is one of the newest additions to the collection; it has a beautiful pleat down the back, which is a Hegarty signature.

F2F: Can you share some details about the creative process that goes into designing your collections?


I’m thinking of ideas for new pieces all the time. When I’m working on a new piece, I often find that during the design process, I’ll have ideas for something else. Hegarty obviously keeps me super busy, and I love working, so the busier I am, the more ideas I tend to find. I don’t like to stop! I’m always looking back at my favourite photographers and artists for inspiration, and I’m a pretty huge film fan. I’ve always got a lot out of cinema and how fashion is represented in cinema, and this is still a very important resource for my inspiration.

F2F: How do you maintain your brand’s uncompromising quality while also prioritising sustainability?


May 2023 will mark two years since Hegarty was launched. To get to the point where I was able to launch, I had to find the right manufacturers and suppliers. The quality of the UK’s fabrics and manufacturing is so incredibly high, in fact, I would say that it’s as high as any other country that makes luxury products. Because I source my fabrics from England and my collection is made in London, when I look at each piece, I can wholeheartedly say that there is absolutely no compromise on quality. Hegarty only uses the finest fabrics and trims from England and the UK, and so to maintain our very high standards, all I do is to continue to source my fabrics and trims from the UK.

I’m completely committed to having my collections made in London, both now and in the future, because the manufacturing is excellent, and it’s worth so much to work locally. I can visit the ateliers and manufacturers in under an hour from where I work, and so I can always stay in touch with how the manufacturing process is coming along. It feels counterproductive to start sourcing from far away around the globe because it isn’t sustainable to fly fabrics and pay sums of money to other countries when it can all be done locally. I believe that if there is a need and a want for something we can make it here, but we have to prioritise sustainability; otherwise, there’ll be no future.

F2F: What is your approach to procuring English fabrics for use in your collections?


I buy from a pretty select group of fabric manufacturers. I really absolutely love what they produce! I also love that they have been making the same type of fabrics for a very long time and have committed to continue to make them. This helps to make Hegarty more sustainable and my business scalable. When I have new ideas for new pieces I usually go through my current suppliers and ask them if they have what I’m looking for. If they do, they send me out some swatches. If they’re what I’m looking for, I then decide how and where I’m going to use them. This is definitely one of my favourite parts of the process. I’m completely committed to buying fabrics for Hegarty in England and the UK. I just love how local it really can be and is.

It’s also really helpful to go to the textile trade shows that are in London a couple of times a year as well. While walking around if I find a UK fabric manufacturer that’s new to me, that might inspire my design work as well.

F2F: Can you share some of the obstacles you faced while creating and expanding your brand? How did you overcome them?


Sampling. As soon as I have a new design that I think works, I then get a sample into production. This starts with the pattern, and then I source the fabrics. I usually make my samples in what I think might be the final fabrics. This really helps me to visualise the final piece. I then try it on various people to see how it looks. This can take a while. It’s hardest when it’s a unisex piece because it needs to work across genders and various sizes and different body types. However, when it finally comes together, it’s definitely worth it and very rewarding!

F2F: How do you ensure that your brand remains true to its founding principles while constantly evolving and growing?


I really want to design fashion for everyone and that’s why making unisex pieces is so important. Coupled with this idea, I will still make my collections in the UK and more specifically London. I will never make fast fashion. Hegarty will always be made sustainably and in the UK and London. We all know that it is cheaper to manufacture abroad, but as the designer and founder of a brand from England, I have no intention of manufacturing elsewhere.

I can ensure Hegarty remains true to the founding principles by staying in touch with the fabric and garment manufacturers and by staying on top of what we are producing. This is also how the brand will evolve, because as I mentioned before, when we start making one piece and then that becomes successful, it then leads on to others. The denim jackets are a good example. We have two styles of jackets at the moment in different colours and different types of denim. This is going to expand and then that will evolve into women’s and men’s jeans, and we’re also really excited about a new unisex denim bag that we’re working on. The denim will continue to come from our supplier in the north of England, and then it will be made in London. The cloak that we launched earlier this year has started to inspire some new ready-to-wear dress designs as well.

F2F: How do you strike a balance between creativity and authenticity?


It’s such an important challenge for me, as this dichotomy is at the centre of all my designs. Creativity is essential for all of my designs to be different, relevant, and inspirational. Not just different for difference’s sake. There has to be vision, which should also come with a respect for the true organic nature of the fabrics and what they’ll be made into, hence the need for authenticity. So basically, I start with the creative idea coupled with the objective to make my design the most dynamic and engaging as possible. This then determines how the fabric will be cut and which fabric and trims will be used, all of which must be sustainable and ethical. Also, I work with manufacturers that I can trust.

F2F: Could you offer some styling tips for wearing outerwear, as well as some essential wardrobe items for fashion aficionados?


I still think layering and sizing up is the key. It’s also great fun and stylish too! I love layering jackets under coats with just a plain T-shirt or shirt underneath. Then, depending on the day or occasion, some smart trousers or great jeans with a favourite relevant boot or shoe (for boots and shoes, I love Trickers and Churchs. I’m also partial to a pair a Saint Laurent Chelsea boots).

I like pieces with structure, but I also like oversized pieces. This plays nicely into the layering idea. The inside piece can be more fitted than the outer piece which I think really works. One of the reasons that I wanted to start with outerwear is that whatever you’re wearing, if you’ve got a banging coat or jacket, it’ll really make the look! I’m a minimalist so I believe that if you wear the right piece that’s beautifully cut and made in the right fabrics, it’ll give you bags of confidence.

F2F: What is the vision for your brand’s growth and evolution in the coming years?


The first thing I want to do is to expand the collection into more ready-to-wear pieces and accessories. I want Hegarty to not only be known as a fashion brand that makes beautifully designed and manufactured outerwear but also as a brand that has really expanded into the other main fashion categories. I’m working on designs right now that I'm really excited about in the other categories, so do keeping checking in with us!

What is the vision for your brand’s growth and evolution in the coming years?

Interviewer: Kiran Sahija
Published on: 01/05/2023
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