Five Q's: Hope Macdonald / by Amy Cherie

RSVP to Hope's Summer Launch Party!

July 26 @ 7pm

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Hope Macdonald is poppin’ up at Mar Vista Art Department! This New York based brand is coming out west for the LA launch of your new favorite line of leather accessories. We called Hope to chat about her journey as a designer and the motivation behind starting her own brand.

How did you get started as a designer?

I went to RISD thinking I was going to do sculpture or painting. When I got there and did my foundation year, I decided design was what I was interested in. I started experimenting with printed fabrics and playing with them. It was a very organic process into what I’m now doing, which is combining everything I love: design, painting, and product design. My first job was accessory design at Kate Spade. Even though I loved designing clothing, with accessories I don't have to think about sizing and I can use more varied materials, which allows me to really focus on the design.


Your pieces are super bold and funky! What inspires your designs and color choices?

For me it’s all about color. I think the motif is secondary, almost. I’m definitely drawn to nature and nautical prints, but I also like my prints to have a sense of humor. I’ve always been inspired by florals. My mom was always decorating the house with different colors and prints. I like the idea of infusing color into a retro floral scheme to modernize it. When I’m coming with up a collection, it’s import that that there’s some kind of theme. Collection No.1 was all inspired by vintage plant periodicals with beautiful illustrations of cactuses and plants. The next collection is jungle themed, so expect a lot of birds and definitely florals. At the end of the day, I want people to come to my brand because they’re coming for color and the play within color.


What inspired you to leave fast fashion and use more sustainable, high quality practices?

I went to New York and was really lucky to have a great job being able to design for Kate Spade. I felt I was part of the process just a few months after I graduated college. Then I went to Liz Claiborne and designed knitwear. We sold everything on QVC and people placed hundreds of thousands of orders. At first it was really exciting, but it got to the point that I thought, this is not why I became a designer. We’d come up with a design and it was always “this is the trend we need to align with,” or “we can’t afford this,” so details get cut out. There’s a total disconnect between the creator and the consumer. When I buy products, I like to know where they’re coming from. For me it was about feeling good about what I was doing every day and my designs not just being hijacked by executives trying to crunch smaller margins and crank out as much product as possible. I decided on a whim to leave. It took a long time to develop the product but now I’m actually selling! This brand is my way of reclaiming the work I always imagined myself doing. I can respond to critiques and take the train to meet with my factory as opposed to shipping to Asia and not knowing what’s happening with my pieces for weeks. The industry is really off the rails and I think it’s up to designers to take that back. Fashion is really at crisis moment. It’s not just a hokey ‘I want the things I have to be special’ kind of thinking. It affects the planet, and there are really damaging results from it. 


What’s your drink of choice when you just can’t be in work mode anymore?

I always love a frozen margarita, but I also love a vodka seltzer with a splash of grapefruit juice when I’m feeling something tropical!


What are you excited to do while you’re visiting LA?

I’m excited to see my network of friends! Being from the east coast, there's a whole group of people who loved the ocean and they migrated west, so I’m excited to see them. I have photoshoot I’m planning while I’m in Venice. Other than that, I’m going to be showing the line around and meeting with people. I’ll have another trunk show in San Fran before I get there, so I’m really excited to just explore more of the west coast!





// Author: Monique Boileau //