Amy Hawkes, one half of the brains and beauty behind The Horse, talks us through the story of the gorgeously curated leather lifestyle brand.
Why do you think the horse watches have been so widely embraced by Australians?
I think the Australian girl is natural and a little effortless, picking up her favourite pieces for the season, but investing in quality basics and denim. Our relaxed, pared-back collection complements her way of life.
You started with leather shoes, how did you turn to watches?
Yes, a men’s dress shoe called ‘Charles’ in black and grey leather was our humble beginning. A result of lessons learnt producing footwear, the timepieces are a non-seasonal product in One size! Heaven.
How has the Australian lifestyle influenced your designs?
Our design mantra is to magnify what is essential and edit out excess; I think this simplification of design speaks to the beauty of easy outdoor living. We use natural elements of leather, rope, linen and stone, in earthy hues that are ideal for long days spent outdoors.
Your products are now sold globally, how do you think Australian style is perceived?
It’s been steady-going building momentum internationally – it’s all about brand-building – but now it’s starting to trade well. I think Australian style is a breath of fresh air.
The Horse is a husband-and-wife business, is it ever the case of seeing each other too much?
It’s not perfect, it’s a bit messy, but it works for us. Often people will tell us they could never work with their partner because they’d kill each other, but learning to structure our roles so we are responsible for different areas of the business has been the key. We disagree a lot. But we have complementary skill sets, and usually very similar tastes on things.
So romance isn’t dead?
Seeing each other more at work means we’ve got to work harder to get those tummy flips at the end of the day – but it never sat well with me that I would see the people I used to work with more than ‘my people’. We’re lucky.
How do you keep the balance of affordability and good design?
We’re constantly working to achieve beautiful products at a fair price. Initially we started as an online business, which was much easier to manage as you’re dealing directly with your customer; it’s harder now we’ve expanded into wholesale. Sometimes there are products that we love and have crafted with care, but they simply don’t work in a wholesale model.
What advice would you have for other young Australians looking to start a fashion business?
It will require lots of hard work, patience and persistence. We have found everything takes twice as long to come to fruition than you planned for. Make sure your numbers work on a small and large scale. Stay humble, and don’t take momentum for granted.
What’s next for The Horse?
New colourways in The Original, The Classic and The D-Series; beautiful undyed vegetable tanned leather goods; and new women’s bags and wallets in plums and mineral greens.
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