Photography Jade Mainade.

these hand-made hats give old fabrics a second life

We talk to designer Maddie Hurtence about her cult designs, shot in LA by photographer Jade Mainade.

by Jack Sunnucks
13 August 2018, 3:26pm

Photography Jade Mainade.

“I was trying to start from zero,” says Maddie Hurtence of the thought process that lead her to start her eponymous, London-based millinery brand, which creates hats out of exclusively second hand fabric. “I had this hat that I really liked, and I thought, if I could have two of these it would be really cool.” Without much (or any) training however, her first attempts weren’t quite right. “I tried making something like it, and it went in a really different direction! Which turned into trying, trying, and trying. It worked out, just in a way I didn’t expect! And since then I’ve been doing it like that.” It seems to be working out — Hurtence’s reversible creations have since been shot on Solange and Amandla Stenberg, and attracted something of a cult following.

Hurtence created the images seen here with photographer Jade Mainade in Los Angeles, shooting her creations on a bunch of Mainade’s friends along the much maligned LA river. “It’s nice to see some green in the city,” she says of the photos, which capture a little bit of nature in one of the biggest cities in America. “It’s nice to have a little wink.”

Here, Hurtence talks about buying fabric at thrift stores, LA versus London, and the perils of floppy hats.

Where do you get your inspiration from, apart from hats you already own?
Well, I use all second hand material, so it’s pretty fabric-led. I go to a lot of charity shops, and there’s a huge variety of materials that I find there, from towels or sofa coverings. When I get the material I think, ‘what’s that going to look like?’ There are times when I try to come up with an idea first, but it always changes.

So you source your fabrics in charity shops?
Yeah, and in thrift stores in LA. It’s amazing. I get a few bits off eBay, like the safety pins.

And you live in LA and London?
I was in between the two before I realized that the London scene was more in tune with what I do — there’s more attention, and more people looking for things like this. It’s hard there to establish your own little pocket. London is treating me well.

Are there any hat wearing people, or hats, you find inspirational?
No [laughs]. I’ve had a lot of feedback from people in the business, that there’s a lot of fascinators out there, and things for going to the races. But as far as casual, wearable day-to-day stuff, there’s not really much. It’s fun to find something unexplored. There’s not many people doing things like me so it gives me more freedom, and allows me to be a bit more relaxed. Not so stressed about the competition.

Are all of your creations one offs?
Yes, the fabric I get — I don’t get huge amounts of it. I don’t think I’ve actually made two identical ones, they always have a little variation. They’re hand stitched as well, so it’s all super precise, custom. You believe in a fabric so much, and then you put it together and it’s floppy. Basic structural ideas. It’s a good learning curve. You figure stuff out, like ‘if I bond this to something stronger it will work.’ Because most of them are reversible as well! I’m trying to do more of that so you can have two hats in one.

Is there anyone you’d like to work with?
I really like working with my friends!

Do you wear a hat every day?
I do! I trial them. Right now I have a sort of headband. It depends on what’s new.