You may have noticed Hush has changed a little this month – a new logo, new look and an exciting new collection - some things never change though, like the brand’s laid-back attitude and commitment to effortless, easy style.
Australian heart and London spirit have always been in Hush's DNA, which is why they felt it fitting to celebrate the new collection – and new look – with a campaign that honours both locations. Chief Creative Officer, Melissa Dick, explains that ‘A Moment in Hush’ tells the story of Hush's roots and brings the laid-back cool attitude of the brand to life. Their vision and commitment to effortless, easy style, and having gotten to know the founders over several years was what hooked us back in 2020 when we acquired a majority stake in Hush.
Our Head of Marketing, Danielle Le Toullec interviewed Melissa who led the refresh, to hear about the journey to date and what's coming up for Hush!
Danielle: Thanks so much for making the time to speak to us, especially between shoots and the launch of the new brand! When you first spoke to Mandy [Watkins - the founder of Hush] about the rebrand, what inspired you to come on board? What was the biggest opportunity you could see?
Melissa: When I first met Mandy I was living in NYC, working as vice president of creative at Coach. We had a chat on zoom. It was supposed to be 1 hour, but we could have chatted forever it seemed to me. She was so open and authentic about her feelings for the brand––and style in general. I felt we had so much in common in terms of how we approached fashion and brand building.
I started delving into the brand and saw straight away there was so much you could do with it. The ideas that Mandy founded the brand on are even more compelling to women today as they were in 2003, but they had become a little buried. I felt like she was ahead of her time, and the world was catching up! I immediately saw an opportunity to dial up the credibility and narrative.
Also, after living in America for 5 years, I could see a huge opportunity for uncomplicated, beautifully-made clothes that combine ease and informality with fashion attitude. And in addition, the increasing desire for aspirational coastal lifestyles led by places like LA and Sydney and the way this was influencing fashion and culture - that was very exciting to me.
Danielle: How will the new brand identity and designs stay true to Hush’s roots while evolving? What elements are you keeping and what is new?
Melissa: There is so much in the founding story that I found inspiring and relevant today. In particular the laid-back, informal approach to style - and life - which comes from the founder Mandy who is from Melbourne, and in the idea of comfort and joy that you can get from clothing.
I wanted to really lean in to the idea of the ‘Australian in London’ that made Hush so unique when it started. So much of that story had been buried and I felt it was important to bring that back powerfully. I loved the idea of the tension it brings, the laid back from Australia, and the fashion attitude from London. I decided to base most things on that juxtaposition. And it’s a position Hush can legitimately own.
I did this in many ways including typography, palette and texture, which are all inspired by Australia, and art direction which is inspired by London. For example, the new font and logo is Portrait which is a font we found on old signage from a beach club in Melbourne.
When Mandy saw the initial ideas she was visibly emotional as it reminded her of where the brand started, and it reminded her of home. That was a wonderful moment for me.
Also, I wanted to re-energise the logo and spotlight the inherent meaning of the word Hush. In 2023, where we can often be overwhelmed, overscheduled, or just simply distracted, it felt it could be really interesting to bring this ‘hush’ narrative to the fore.
Danielle: As a fellow Aussie in London, I love that approach! How did you go about the rebranding process? What kind of research did you conduct?
Melissa: Some of it was instinctive and some of it was research led. I did a lot of thinking about fashion and cultural trends, particularly big shifts like the casualisation of fashion and the increasinging importance of wellness and self (physical, emotional and environmental selves) to younger women. A lot of this research was helping to validate and challenge what my instinct was saying.
An important part of the process was spending time with Mandy and looking at Hush’s journey through the archive of product and content.
I also brought a brilliant creative on board (Matthew Roland Bannister) whom I had worked with previously in the US and who is Australian but had just relocated to London. He helped to develop the branding and identity in a way that directly references Australia. It felt very authentic, because he is an Australian in London too. As well as a brilliant creative.
Danielle: Curious to know, what woman did you have in mind when conceptualising the new brand image and styles? How do you hope to better resonate with hush's target customer without alienating the existing customer base?
Melissa: The women I had in mind were women like me and Mandy. Women who love style and fashion and find so much joy in trends and newness. But who also love being deliberately dressed down, are pragmatic and like easy, uncomplicated ideas.
I feel very strongly that fashion is about mindset not age, and that you identify with brands and other customers that share your mindset and aspirational aesthetic.
Hush already knew a lot about what its existing customers liked, which is great and important, but with fashion you can’t keep giving her the same thing the same way, that means you are actively advising her to get in a rut! Fashion should never be about that. It should be emotional, exciting and push you out of your comfort zone from time to time.
Since the new direction is so true to Hush’s founding essence, I wasn’t too worried about alienating people. Also, I know by now that if you are going to have a point of view, not everyone will agree with it. But if you don’t have a clear point of view, no one will buy into you. So the choice is easy!
Danielle: On that point of fashion being about a mindset, what key messages or emotions are you hoping to convey through the new branding and marketing initiatives?
Melissa: The key message is ‘laidback with attitude’ and we express this by saying “turn down the noise to turn up the joy”. This statement is also a statement about life and the meaning of ‘Hush’. It says that as well as championing effortless, uncomplicated style, that we also advocate for being present, intentional, and undistracted to find inner confidence and real quality of life.
Danielle: How do the new designs showcase current fashion trends while still being laid-back and effortless?
Melissa: We have really focused on the cornerstones of a woman’s wardrobe like great jeans, the perfect chino, a great wool coat, or cashmere sweater, then thought about how to disrupt or animate it to make it current. So you’ll find things like the Lya jean, which looks like a pleat-front trouser, but is made in drapey soft denim. Or our silver leather trousers, which we style back with a classic grey-marl sweatshirt. Then there are pieces like our core joggers, refreshed in cord which is cool right now, or a relaxed blazer made in luxurious camel wool.
Danielle: Working alongside our corporate partners and portfolio companies, we've seen first-hand the need to prioritise ESG strategies and the impact this has on the bottom line. What innovative fabrics or sustainable materials are Hush incorporating into the new collection?
Melissa: Hush has always placed importance on sustainability. Doing the work, rather than shouting about it. Denim and cashmere for example are two fabrics that the team have constantly innovated in to ensure less environmental impact. And we sell sneakers by Mother Earth which are made from materials made from fruit waste, amongst other things. But perhaps the most important thing is ensuring each piece has versatility and longevity to ensure it is used over and over and kept for a long time. Keeping things in use and out of landfill is something we believe will make the biggest difference.
Danielle: How does the relaunch support Hush's goals moving forward in the industry? Where do you envision the brand in the future?
Melissa: The relaunch is about ensuring Hush has brand buzz and is relevant to more people and reaching new audiences. Both of these things will help the company achieve its brand and business goals.
Danielle: What challenges did you face bringing this rebrand to life? How did you overcome them?
Melissa: The biggest challenge was time. And the speed with which we wanted to do things. If budget is not an issue then time is less of an issue, and if quality is not important, then again, time is less of an issue. But we had a challenging budget and challenging timeline - and we wanted the best quality - so that was a huge challenge - believe me!
The solution was to break off some pieces and stagger them and accept that not everything could be done in the time frame. So we took a phased approach to things like the website and garment labels. But of course, we prioritized the things that are going to make the biggest difference to the customer. Like product, styling, creative, storytelling and experience.
Danielle: What are the most exciting parts of this relaunch from a creative perspective?
Melissa: All of it! I loved redesigning the logo with Matthew, that was very exciting. And creating a campaign for social and OOH, working with amazing creatives like Derek Henderson and the model Emma Balfour in Sydney, and Esther Theaker in London to bring the campaign to life. Seeing the billboards across London tube stations was lovely too.
Danielle: How will you measure success and customer sentiment toward the rebrand?
Melissa: We are definitely closely monitoring brand buzz from the industry and the customer, as well as engagement and growth on all our digital channels. But of course, we’ll know it is really a success if she buys it.
Danielle: So what does Mandy think of the new look and feel?
Mandy: I’d be a rubbish poker player as I’m useless at hiding my feelings, particularly when I’m excited. So I don’t think my opinion was in any doubt when Melissa, took me through Hush’s new look for the first time. I absolutely loved it. I do absolutely love it. The best thing is that it’s at the same time new and fresh, but also very familiar. True to everything that Hush has meant to me for the past 20 years.