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Q&A: Stephanie Brearley makes Freya Hats for all heads and seasons

by | Oct 8, 2021

Launched last year during the first lockdown to raise money for women and children in need, Freya Hats produces slow and transseasonal fashion. Its first hats were made from discarded fabric samples. Freya Hats is committed to sustainability, creating fashion garments with an accessible price point as well as with a purpose.  The hats are designed by Stephanie Brearley and made by two small female-owned CMTs.

We spoke to Stephanie.

What is your greatest challenge?

For me it is the cost of producing locally and as sustainably as possible as well as ensuring transparency. It is difficult to compete with fast fashion brands whose products are on trend and sell for half the price, but then the consumer has no idea where the product was made/how it was made.

Why did you choose to design hats?

I believe an outfit isn’t complete without a hat. It is a form of art with which to express yourself.

What inspires the shape, size and material of your designs?

Most importantly we try to be as sustainable as possible, in as many ways a possible. We try to ensure we use only natural fibres or end of roll/upcycled fabric. This determines what materials we use when making our hats. I also wanted to create hats which are not only stylish but practical too (easy to pop in your bag for a day out). As cliché as it may sound people and places inspire me when designing our hats. I think about the person who could be wearing it one day and about where they would be wearing it. I create a story in my mind. When thinking about size, I keep in mind all head and hair shapes and sizes.

Do you know whether your materials and dyes are sustainable?

We make sure that all our hats are made from natural fibres. We also upcycle a great deal of fabric to make limited runs of hats and all our hats are packaged in a drawstring bag which has been made from discarded fabric sample books or fabric. While we try to source the most sustainable fabrics possible, we don’t always have 100% transparency on the full origin of our fabric. We choose the best available option.

What motivates you?

Seeing the small difference we make by donating to these charities really does motivate me. As well as messages from happy customers to say how much they love their hat or to see photos of people wearing them.

Tell us about the Cora hat?

The CORA Project supports menstruators from underprivileged communities by providing them with the knowledge and resources to help end Period Poverty. After chatting with the owners and establishing that our values are aligned, we created the CORA Hat – 100% of profits from the sale of this hat are donated to The CORA Project. To remain true to who we are, the CORA Hat is made from upcycled fabric.

Why do you think inclusivity in the sustainable fashion is important?

It’s important to challenge the long-standing fashion narrative of exclusivity and promote inclusivity. Conscious consumers want to buy from a brand that represents them. Sustainable, local fashion costs more so people will want to justify buying from a brand that they believe in.

What happens to your waste fabric?

We use leftover fabric to make reusable drawstring bags. Any fabric from this that is left over is then donated to a local community group in Durban called Waterfall Pantry. They use our left-over fabric to make things such as blankets.

What makes handmade products special?

The skill of the artisans/designers who make these pieces. Each hat is beautifully made with love by people who appreciate the value of quality and handmade products. For example, our limited-edition hand-painted bucket hat was painted by the talented local artist Kirsten Jenna Haviland. Each brushstroke is unique. She has created a piece of wearable art. Another special element of this is that there are only 20 of these beautiful unique hats.

Which style is best for spring?

We have created hats which are meant to transcend the seasons. However, currently my favourite hat for days in the sunshine is our hand-painted bucket hat.

For more information visit the website. Prices range from R199

CREDITS

Photographer: Michigan Behn
Stylist: Tyla Lane
Models: Lindelwa Vezi, Lebogang Mahlangu, Julia Shave, Heidi Chapman and Luyanda Sosibo

 

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