HLCKAE is a new Dutch lifestyle brand designing contemporary womenswear. Inspired by capsule wardrobe staples, HLCKAE works to create timeless pieces from sustainable materials, featuring jackets, blouses, accessories and more. “Urban Harmony” shows these pieces in their natural environment: a sweeping, working city brought to life by strong and empowered women.
HLCKAE’s mentality is simple: pure and natural materials go into making clothes to not only wear but experience life in. That means long-lasting, high-quality fabrics and versatile designs of both style and comfort. Looks produced under the HLCKAE name are feminine, hinting masculinity to give each piece an agendered poise and marked form.
Designer Kate Hilckmann uses HLCKAE to connect wearers back to the real world. Natural fibres like cashmere, silk, suede and fine leather provide an experience of richness and comfort while continuing the brand’s commitment to sustainability. “We have got our own personal style. We like what we do and we do what we love,” says Kate Hilckmann.
After developing an interest in fashion at a young age through the exploring of her mother’s wardrobe and sorting through local boutiques. From there she refined her style, focusing on looks she felt were timelessly elegant. The most important thing she learned, however, was to stay true to herself. “The way you dress strengthens your personality, but it never changes who you really are.” We catch up with Hilckmann to learn more about her journey in fashion, influences and what to expect from her brand new brand.
Was there a single moment when you realised you wanted to pursue fashion?
I always knew fashion would become a substantial part of my life and personal development. Due to my responsibility for the family company, my personal objectives for fashion were delayed. Now with 10 years of entrepreneurial and managerial experience, I am ready to successfully launch HLCKAE.
Your brand talks a lot about sustainability and thinking in the long-term. How do you incorporate those ideas into your work?
HLCKAE is inspired by the principles of a wardrobe capsule. My designs are all timeless and I prefer to work with long-lasting and organic materials. I invest a lot of time and thought to develop the ideal garment. The clothes I design are functional, versatile, and comfortable with a good fit.
I stimulate my audience to invest in garments that are beautifully made, wear wonderfully and are long-lasting. Combining your clothes and forming a durable wardrobe saves you time, wardrobe space, and money in the end. You also value your clothes more highly and thus will be taking better care for them. I regard this philosophy as a kind of missionary work.
Was it a conscious decision to do adopt an eco-friendly stance to fashion or did it come rather naturally?
It came rather naturally because I love to wear pure and organic materials myself. On the other hand, I am passionate about the manufacturing industry, especially in handicraft. Making beautiful things with a timeless and elegant design, pure and natural fabrics, all contribute to a better and sustainable environment. Because the consumer is becoming more aware of the world pollution of the fashion industry, I see it as a niche market. Why don’t mix the great pleasure of fashion and be good for the environment at the same time?
Having led a company for 10 years in the food processing industry —another big polluter— I have been confronted with many questions about making the industry more sustainable. You can’t walk away anymore and not thinking about the next generation. Times are changing.
Has having a child changed your approach to fashion?
Having a child has opened my eyes. Despite having less time for myself, it’s stimulated my creative side again. And I had the courage to listen to my inner voice, which whispered fashion for a long time.
After becoming a mother I started seeing myself as my own customer. I only wanted clothing that was an enrichment of my wardrobe and at the same time, I needed practical garments for the many roles I was fulfilling —entrepreneur, partner, mother, friend. I was looking for garments that were easy to combine and emphasized my signature look to save stress, time, and money. Bottom line: my son Vik did not change my approach, but even strengthened my drive for fashion.
HLCKAE is a Dutch brand. Does your environment inspire your designs?
I think Dutch people are very creative, they have a good sense for minimalistic, innovative, experimental, and unconventional design with a touch of humour. Sustainability and re-use of material are often incorporated. Also because the Netherlands likes to walk ahead when it comes to environmental health.
For me personally, Dutch design in fashion is a mixture of Scandinavian clean and minimalistic design and the French je ne sais quois attitude. This is reflected in my work, a kind of “demographical mix.”
You describe your design as masculine-feminine clothing. Could you explain what that means to you?
A feminine silhouette with the practicality and a little formality of menswear. The perfect balance of timeless elegance with a good fit, never being underdressed and not feeling overdressed. It is about strengthening your personality and is a way of life.
What can we expect from HLCKAE in both the near and distant future?
I want HLCKAE to grow organically, so it will develop naturally and become an established brand in the high-segment. I’d like to make it an international success. For the near future, I wish to take part in pop-up stores and for the distant future in high-end concept stores or online fashion platforms. I am confident HLCKAE can keep woman achievers inspired and redefine their styles, which I see as an ongoing process.
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