“Hardware LDN is a lifestyle brand, when you wear the clothes you’re part of the lifestyle,” asserts founder and designer, Jessica Horwell. Launched in 2012 with the intention of creating clothes and accessories for men and women to feel good in – “and in turn feel part of something genuine” – today Hardware LDN boasts fans of Rita Ora and Cara Delevingne, retailing alongside the likes of Ashish and Christopher Shannon on Julie Anne Quay’s VFiles.
“I was in a friend’s garage pottering about when I picked up some hardware,” she explains of the moniker, “I was playing with it and made a necklace. I loved doing little creative missions, so I went around to a load of hardware shops collecting things I could make jewellery from; then it progressed into clothing.”
Prior to the label – proudly London centric, much like the lady herself – Horwell occupied several roles, namely that of DJ and stylist, including for the latter assisting with Riri and Ellie Goulding; a stint presenting is also apparent via a showreel on YouTube (and coming soon to Quay’s channel). How did her skills translate when it came to launching Hardware LDN?
“I have a very particular taste, so styling helped me broaden my knowledge combining other influences. It helped me with the technical and business aspects, like knowing how to co-ordinate my own shoots and processes around lending samples,” she says. “I also met other creatives and found interesting people to work with. It definitely gave me a better understanding and was my first introduction to the rat race.”
Shooting with Clash at Hollywood’s Standard hotel, Jessica’s rat race is perhaps a shade brighter than that which greets most people as they board the Central Line each morning, but as any small brand will no doubt concur, fashion ain’t no playground. “Production is the biggest pain,” offers the designer, “when trying to realise your creations on a larger scale – staying true to the original items, it’s not fun. Bring on the best production manager in the world please!”
Luckily for Horwell there are those aforementioned brand ambassadors, acquired, if you will, through geography and good timing; “we’re all London girls,” she tells Clash. “They inspire so many young girls to go for their dreams and be creative, they live the lifestyle my brand embodies.” Away from the capital, Wu Tang Clan and Wiz Khalifa are likewise smitten: “I totally lost my mind! I’ve been a massive fan for years,” she exclaims of seeing the former in her headwear.
As for with whom she works, like the photographer Adam Rindy, above, Jessica is direct in her approach: “I know straight away when I see a photographer’s work,” she states, “They will have an effortless talent and a similar eye.” Model casting often places friends at the forefront.
Massively influenced by emerging subcultures from across the globe (we can only assume she spends a lot of time on Tumblr), Horwell picks London, LA, New York and Berlin as key to the label’s aesthetic; Los Angeles is also, she lets on, where Hardware LDN becomes physical (read: where her factory is based). “I find it better to get away from London, I can give it my full attention and not get distracted,” she clarifies, “It’s also an incredibly inspiring place; the fabric district is amazing with all the trims available to hand.”
Titled ‘Muma’s on Fire’, the new AW16 collection is inspired, she says, “by all my creative girls around me that are killing it.” Presumably the Horwell posse are big into the colour black then; the gothic shade is predominant throughout the line-up, while early noughties lacing is a key detail. Nods to ‘The Craft’ and the UK Garage scene, as well as contemporary streetwear and a hint of grunge are all noticeable in the pieces too.
An international label with stockists on four different continents, is there any difference in how people relate to Hardware LDN, away from LDN? “I think Americans inherently like British things,” she divulges, “and my brand embodies London style both visually and in ethos. I also totally take both LA and NYC style into account when designing; I actually have more stockists in the US then back in the UK, which is sort of indicative of how the US market has taken to the brand.”