It’s been a while since I’ve worked with them and a few of you have been asking me what’s going on at hush. It’s a small company that has found itself growing so fast that it’s suddenly had to switch its focus towards gearing up for growth in a big way. Everybody here of course has known and loved hush for a long time, but two years ago when they launched at John Lewis & Partners, they were introduced to a whole new customer base and they very quickly became the top selling brand on the womenswear floor there.
What’s going on at hush?
I think we’re all familiar with hush’s background story. It began when Mandy Watkins, a native Australian, met Englishman Rupert Youngman and moved to the UK to be with him. During her first winter here, she felt the cold and so she started designing and selling cosy flannel pyjamas from her kitchen table. She wasn’t completely inexperienced, she’d previously worked in marketing at Adidas and so she had good athleisure pedigree to draw upon as she expanded the range to cover ‘relaxed cool’, a look that doesn’t always come naturally to a UK consumer.
Her start-up grew so quickly that by 2005 Rupert had given up his job in publishing to help her build the company. They continue to run hush together as a privately owned venture and now, not only do they have two children but also a team of 128 staff. In a difficult retail market, it’s heartening to hear a success story – the business has quadrupled in the last three years and in the last set of published results, Hush’s turnover was up 74% year on year.
So, the last twelve months have been focused on taking the business to the next level so that they can stay ahead of demand. They’ve doubled their office space, taken on new designers, a new marketing team and they’ve even employed Sustainable Steph, a full time Ethical and Sustainability Co-ordinator to make sure that as they continue to grow, they do it with the right values in place. The focus now is on expanding internationally and the website is being replatformed so that they can operate across different languages and currencies.
For somebody like me who loves analysing different retail models, it’s a very clever one. The partnership with John Lewis, coupled with the low risk pop-up stores that they run, enables them to test the storefront experience without having to invest heavily in bricks and mortar. In the meantime, increasing their proven online business enables them to strike out confidently in a medium that they’re already comfortable with. Hopefully the fact that they remain determinedly privately-owned will mean that they won’t lose the individual hush signature that runs through their style, it’s going to be an interesting development to watch over the next few years.
My pick of the hush winter collection
So now that we’ve caught up on the background, let’s move on to this season’s clothes. I’m aware that some of you find it tricky to know how to wear hush and I understand. The look tends to be loose and laidback and yet you’re probably drawn to this blog because you share my neat and tidy approach to chic. The thing is that even though I like to feel pulled together, I always find that at least half of hush’s collection works for me, I just have to adapt it which generally means sizing down. I also avoid anything with dropped shoulders or no waist definition, not because I don’t like it but because it won’t flatter my shape.
The thing that hush particularly helps me with is relaxed weekend style which I find much more challenging than ‘smart’. Often when I buy a new jumper or a casual jacket that I like the look of, I get it home and find that it just doesn’t quite work proportionally with the rest of my wardrobe. However if I go to hush, I know they’ll have worked out the perfect balance between their pieces and so I can just buy straight into it, knowing it will work with the other hush items I already have.
Hush winter collection 2019 try-on
As part of this post I had the opportunity to put three outfits together and I deliberately made them all jeans based to illustrate my point. I wore the first one a couple of weekends ago for the first day of the Lancaster Music Festival. Every pub and wine bar in the city opens its doors to live bands who play from Friday night to Sunday afternoon and whatever your taste in music, you can guarantee you’ll find it. It means that the lovely old Georgian city is humming with people of all ages having a good time and the atmosphere is electric.
So I wore my first hush outfit on the Saturday afternoon; we had loose plans to meet up with friends at different venues and my outfit felt just right. And yes – I’m back in skinnies but that’s because I find Hush skinnies more flattering than any others. To balance out my long torso, I have to find jeans that lengthen my legs visually which these do thanks to a good amount of stretch and subtle panels of shading down the front of the thighs. Shading works in the same slimming and leg-lengthening way as a crease or pintuck at the front of a trouser. You can see it clearly here in the product shot…
… but when they’re on it’s less obvious. I like the fact that they’re cropped at just the right place and not too tight at the ankle, I’m wearing a 12 and they’re true to size.
My favourite cashmere is always pale grey. I find there’s something about the colour coupled with the softness that represents absolute luxury and so I’ve been really pleased to see it appearing in a new iteration this year, the Donegal fleck. This jumper is a boyfriend cut so it has a slightly more open neckline than a classic crew which I prefer. I also like the way that it skims over my midriff and has a split hem to avoid any bunching. As always I’ve sized down to a small and the fit feels perfect. It’s good quality, soft cashmere; mid-weight with a knit that isn’t too dense so it feels light and yet it’s still warm.
The following day we went back to the festival for a jazz brunch. I wore a different pair of Hush jeans, they’re similar to the grey ones with clever fading and hip-narrowing whiskering but they’re in a slightly heavier denim. And I added Hush boots. You know how much I love my red metallic boots from last year and I’ve always kicked myself for not buying them in silver and gold when they released them. This pair has a silver stripe down the back which adds to the joy and even though they’re pointed, they widen slightly before they narrow which makes them comfortable to wear. I’m wearing a size 12 in the jeans and they’re a good fit, if you’re between sizes, size down; the boots are true to size.
It was a cooler day so I was glad to be wearing this warm jumper. It’s such a lovely colour and because it tones with the blue denim, it helps you to look taller and leaner. I wondered if it would be itchy but it isn’t. I sized down to a small as usual.
Lunch in Nice
I wore the last outfit on a warm and windy Sunday afternoon for lunch in Nice… I’ll tell you about that on Friday. The jeans are the same as in the outfit above but this time I added a blouse and blazer for a more elevated look. The jacket is a great length for wearing with tight jeans because it breaks lower down the thigh than an ordinary blazer and so it doesn’t create a horizontal line at your widest point. I particularly love the fact that the lapels are black whereas the rest of it is a warm French navy – and the satin lining even has a subtle, leopard print texture. It’s slightly oversized so if in doubt, size down.
The blouse is pretty but not too girly. The sleeves have ties which look lovely when it’s worn without a jacket and the print is a small white star. It’s very transparent so you’ll need to wear a camisole underneath, true to size.
And I’m finishing with the boots which added a toughened up twist to the whole look. They’re elegant and yet the silver studs nod to biker chic. Once again they’re comfortable to wear, the heel is low and the toe narrows towards the end of your foot so they don’t pinch. Hush footwear isn’t cheap but there’s no doubting the quality, it’s rapidly becoming the place I look first for statement shoes and boots that are guaranteed to make any outfit look a thousand times cooler.
I loved everything I wore in this post but the surprising discovery was the jeans, they’re so comfortable and flattering that I’ll be wearing them all of the time now. It’s great to find skinnies that hug but aren’t sausage skin tight – they’re just a brilliant find.
Don’t forget the dresses…
And before I go, I just wanted to give you a reminder of two of my early purchases from hush this season because even though they’re both still on backorder, the wait isn’t quite so long now. This red and black print dress with its handkerchief hemline and shirred waist…
Red dress; Hush red boots (past season)
And the streamlined shirtdress that skims the curves of your body perfectly, I wish they’d do a few more colours in this that would work for my skin tone.
So, I hope that’s given you some inspiration for relaxed chic from a label that I really love. Sometimes when I meet brands, I sense that I’m there to tick an ‘over 50’ box in their inclusivity matrix but I never do with hush. When I’m with them I always have the feeling that age is irrelevant to them and they certainly have a good demographic mix in their own team. A whole new drop of delights has arrived today and you can find them all here so do go over and have a look, it’s the last big drop of the season.
Disclosure: ‘What’s going on at hush?’ was commissioned by hush but all thoughts, words and pictures are my own. Please support the brands that care about our midlife audience.
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