There really is no substitute for quality, a mantra held close by Australian accessories label, The Horse. This close-knit group of charming souls recognises how special it really is, and I am absolutely smitten. They value a strong craftsmanship over disposable products. They are passionate about giving back to the community and they treat our homeland as the perfect atmosphere to foster their wonderful work. We chat to Amy Hawkes about making the perfect pair of kicks, and the incredible plans for The Horse this year.
Sophie Flecknoe: Tell me a little about the brand’s history. Where did it all begin?
Amy Hawkes: Since Scotty was about 18 he was always dreaming and kicking around what his next bright business idea might be. Together with 2 mates and the money for a “boat loan” they started a T-shirt label. Today we crack up watching ‘How to Make it in America’ because it’s exactly what it looked like. Scotty still has the newspaper clipping of Missy Higgins wearing hers. Next came the wallet label, which his best mate still runs, known now as Status Anxiety. Throughout this time Scott began sampling up shoes. His friend Gabrielle complimented Scott’s ideas perfectly and brought her creativity and vintage aesthetic into the mix. One afternoon in Cronulla beach over a coffee they decided to start a shoe label, and over the years Scott and Gabrielle worked their full-time jobs while The Horse found it’s feet. Late last year we discovered that Scott’s great grandfather was a cobbler in country NSW so it seems he’s found the perfect fit.
Your brand rests on a community of local Sydney artists and designers. Who else is involved in the making of your products? Would you say your business quite close-knit?
The Horse is pretty special. Twice a year for our summer and winter campaigns, some of our clever friends come together to help us style, shoot, model, video, design and write about our collections. We are so hugely blessed to be surrounded by talented and like-minded friends who are willing to come alongside The Horse and support what we’re doing.
It is lovely to see that there is a definite family orientation behind The Horse. Can you tell me about this element of your brand?
Yes, we love keeping it in the family here. Beyond Scotty and I being married and working together on The Horse, we love naming our shoes after family members. There’s been an ‘Ivy’, a ‘Joan’, an ‘Arthur’, a ‘Nancy’, to name a few, which are all Scotty and I’s grandparent’s names. My Pa recently cheekily asked when they’ll be a ‘Kevin’ – so we’re looking forward to showing him what we’ve come up with for next summer’s range. It’s a simple way we can honour the people we love.
After reading your story, there is a certain Equine theme. Of course, this is seen in the name of your brand. Can you tell me a little more about this? Would you say that horses are a stimulus for your craft?
We loved the idea that in the same way a farrier shoes horses, that we can shoe people. So the name ‘The Horse’ is just a play on that, and it seems the puns are endless. We love it when people describe our shoes as “noble steeds” or that their “hoofs didn’t fit”. It’s all just meant to be a bit of fun.
After watching the video campaign for your SS13 collection, I had thoughts of long summer days, running around a warm and breezy beach town in my favourite kicks with great friends. Would you say this sort of culture is an influence on the brand’s aesthetic?
Oh absolutely! We’d love The Horse to represent a lifestyle and not just a shoe label.
In my opinion there are so many products out there that are essentially becoming disposable. Thankfully, you’re quoted to have said you want “quality” in your beautiful products. How involved in the process of making the perfect shoe from scratch?
Crafting shoes based on longevity not seasonality is a big motivation for us. We want shoes that can wear with you and develop beautiful grooves and markings over time that make that pair completely yours. We’re constantly working to improve the quality of our shoes. The result of which is our AW13 collection ‘The Wanderers’ which we believe is our strongest offering yet.
I can’t wait to get my hands on one of your Farmer’s Market Bags. Not only are they a wonderful product, but they also contribute to such a great cause. More than half of the profits made from the bag go to the Love Mercy Foundation. That is such a generous percentage. Can you tell me a little about your work with the Love Mercy Foundation? What does this particular foundation mean to you?
Scotty and I have always wanted The Horse to be able to do something bigger. The Love Mercy Foundation was actually started by a friend of ours, so we love that the Farmer’s Market Bag is the start of being able to give something back. Each bag sold provides a woman in northern Uganda 15kgs of A Grade seeds of her choice. She is also provided with a hand held gardening tool, and access to educational workshops. She plants her crop, tends to it in community with women around her, and then harvests her yield. She is then able to sell her produce at the local market, and feed her family. It’s such an awesome initiative! Hopefully it’s just the start of what we can do.
Much to our delight, you are currently stocked all over the country. Are there any plans to expand your brand into the international market in the future?
For now we’re happy working away at getting the recipe right in our own backyard. There’s still so much we’d like to achieve at home. BUT, I’m positive Scotty is already planning and dreaming something up! We’re just so grateful people are willing to come along for the ride with us.
Words: Sophie Flecknoe. Image courtesy of The Horse.