Anxiety, melancholy, unrequited love: not phrases last seen in the sacred space of our teenage diaries, but a handful of the pensive slogans embroidered in cursive onto the latest block colour knits from ‘it’ label HADES.
Titled ‘Inner Privacy,’ the inspirations behind self-taught designer Cassie Holland’s sophomore collection are certainly esoteric. After celebrating her favourite bands with her debut (sell-out) knitwear drop, named ‘Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others’ in homage to The Smiths, this season’s starting point came courtesy of Virginia Woolf: specifically, her musings on selfhood in the landmark novel Mrs Dalloway. From a millenial pink knit emblazoned with ‘Bonjour Tristesse’ to a ‘Melancholy’ crew-neck in moody duck-egg blue, the results are what your wardrobe (and Instagram feed) have been crying out for…
Hi Cassie! What’s the story behind HADES?
HADES was established in 2015 and was the outcome of a creative project that I undertook. I actually just began making jumpers for myself and friends; I shared these online and the reaction was positive which encouraged me to keep designing. I’m not a classically trained designer. Around that time I was reading a lot about punk and the DIY ethos – the idea that even if you’re not classically trained you can still have something to offer. It encouraged me to not be deterred and gave me a licence to do it myself.
How did you decide upon your brand name?
I’m interested in Greek history and imagery. Somehow I thought the Greek god of the underworld was a cool name for a knitwear brand. People were scared to say the word ‘Hades’ as it represented the end, so they employed emphemisms. I also like the story of ‘Hades, Persephone and the Pomegranate,’ which is a myth used to explain the origin of the seasons.
Tell us about the inspiration behind the latest collection, Inner Privacy?
This collection explores the theme of the inner self. I was interested in the idea that we all live as much in our heads as we do in the world, and was influenced by writers who had explored solitude and the inner life. Each of the jumpers is adorned with a phrase influenced by self-reflection: ‘Melancholy,’ ‘La Douleur Exquise’ and ‘Bonjour Tristesse.’
What does inner privacy mean to you?
It’s about the kernel of selfhood that can’t be shared with others. Each of us has an inner life filled with anxieties, joys, melancholy – sometimes these private thoughts are concealed imperceptibly, they are unknowable to anyone else, even those closest to us and sometimes even from ourselves.
How do you narrow down and decide upon the slogans for each collection?
I really struggled this season and ended up with a bigger collection than I perhaps needed because I’d formed a connection with the phrases. We launched with 15 styles, which in retrospect was difficult to manage as you’re dealing with so many styles across all the sizes. When we restocked I edited this down to 8 jumpers. For future seasons I’m planning to be stricter with myself when editing a collection!
Why do you think slogan T-shirts and jumpers have such enduring appeal?
It’s an opportunity to communicate who you are, what you think, feel and believe with the world. It’s an outer visualisation of your inner self. The concept of HADES is classic knitwear that you can keep and wear for many years, I love the idea of buying a jumper emblazoned with ‘Unrequited Love’ in your thirties to tokenise a moment in time and then wearing it when you reach your sixties – it’s a connection with a period of time, a different self.
You commissioned a book of writing to go with the new collection. How did you choose and then reach out to the writers?
Both Kaylyssa and Stevie used to write online diaries which I read when I was younger. There are three newly commissioned pieces (“Five Theories of Solitude” by Kaylyssa Hughes, “I want to know you’re there but I want to be alone” by Stevie-Mackenzie Smith and “Wow, you too?” by Joe Dennett) and finally I included the Woolf extract from Mrs Dalloway since she was the radix of the collection.
What importance has Instagram played in building the brand? Is the importance of being ‘Instagram friendly’ something you bear in mind when designing, or is that something that arises organically?
I don’t think about it. I think about the concept, what I like and would wear. Obviously I want it to be beautiful and appealing, but for the sake of wearing it rather than Instagram.
Is there anyone you’d love to see wearing your designs?
I struggle to answer this. The people I get most enjoyment from wearing it are writers, musicians, comedians who I like and admire – who aren’t necessarily known for their style, but it brings me enjoyment to see them wearing it. There are some obvious fashion icons like Chloe Sevigny though! And I love it when my friends wear them.
Books and reading have clearly played an important part in your latest collection. What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs and biographies recently. Right now I’m reading The Rules Do Not Apply, Ariel Levy’s memoir and I’ve just bought Citizen Clem: A Biography [of former Prime Minister Clement Attlee].
Are there any other brands or designers you would love to collaborate with?
Yes I’d definitely like to collaborate, I’d be really interested in working with an artist or illustrator. If there are any artists reading this who like HADES please get in touch!