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A conversation with Hill & Friends

Emma Hill and Georgia Fendley

Emma Hill and Georgia Fendley have two very different design languages, but that’s what makes the pair’s collection of handbags and accessories so brilliant. Like finding a design sweet spot if you will.

They met whilst working at Mulberry and became firm friends. Emma, Creative Director and Georgia, Brand Director. Then nearly four years ago they launched Hill & Friends. The perfect fusion of time-honoured British craftsmanship and playful and fun design... Italian hardware, bonded suede linings and their signature postman’s lock with a smiley face. These are bags designed to make you happy.

We caught up with Emma to find out more...

“We believe in creating cherished, heirloom pieces that capture, but then outlast, seasonal trends.”

We love the story of how you met working together at Mulberry. What did you bring from your past experiences when starting Hill & Friends?

Georgia and I often describe our combined design style as the shaded centre part of a venn diagram. Our natural design styles are actually very opposite to each other’s (hers is more intellectual, studied and minimal, whereas mine is more colourful, cartoony and humourous). When they are mixed together is when the magic happens!!

Amidst the old guard of classic designer handbags and the new up-and-coming-brands, what do you think really sets your designs apart?

We are a young brand but what we lack in heritage we more than make up for in authenticity.

We believe in creating cherished, heirloom pieces that capture, but then outlast, seasonal trends. We use a very brand specific and unique mix of time-honoured British craftsmanship (using the very finest of raw materials, both in terms of quality and ethical provenance), in classic, user-friendly, shapes with a good dose of a subversive Hill & Friends twist!

“We remain deeply committed to celebrating the unique history and practice of British craft.”

How are your bags made and what makes them really special?

Our bags are made with love, laughter, passion, an intricate attention to detail, and with a very honest and transparent price / value ratio. Oh, and with lots of cups of tea and a chocolate biscuit or three!!

We remain deeply committed to celebrating the unique history and practice of British craft and, as such, have recently recommitted to producing our bags in the UK, with an established and amazing British supplier.

You make accessories that you want to wear yourselves. What was your first ever bag crush?

We do indeed, which has got to be the best job in the world!

My first ever bag crush was being fascinated, as a toddler, by my Nana’s candy store of colour-coordinating handbags. Aged 7, that was followed my obsession with the regulation brown leather belt bag that came with my Brownies uniform. Then, as a teenager, by my army-issue camo bag that I personalised with all sorts of biro doodles of BFFs and boy crushes, graffiti, glitter and badges!

“We specifically decided to name ourselves ‘Hill & Friends’ to celebrate quite how many people it takes to launch and maintain a successful brand.”

From the smiley face locks with a winking eye, to the colour-pop palette, we love that the Hill & Friends aesthetic is all about happiness. How does this feeling translate into how you run your brand?

Thank you – we love it too and have always strived, in everything that we do, to live up to our brand motto of ‘Fashion Just Got Friendlier’!

We specifically decided to name ourselves ‘Hill & Friends’ to celebrate quite how many people it takes to launch and maintain a successful brand (there is so not an ‘I’ in ‘TEAM’!!) and our friends include our team, our customers, our factory, our suppliers, our wholesalers, our investors, our interns, our warehouse, our press team and our celebrity friends.

And finally, if you had to wear only one of your bags every day forever, which one would it be?

That’s a really tough one to force me to choose between the babies!! But, if absolutely pushed, I would pick our ‘Slouchy Tote’ and our ‘Happy Tweency Chain Bag’ – they are the perfect dream-duo for me and my day-to-day, uptown-downtown, day-to-night life!!

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