Last year, as we rolled out of a tumultuous 12 months of intermittent lockdowns, Australian accessories brand Haulier International (then named Hershan after its founder, Jeremy Hershan) quietly inserted itself into every style magnate’s arsenal. At the most recent Afterpay Australian Fashion Week, their signature utility tote bag was a persistent presence by the well-shod feet of fashion editors decorating the front row of runways.
A simple tote in vibrant colourways, Hershan says that the inspiration came from a moment of personal need. “For me, the creative process often begins with what I feel is missing from my wardrobe or the market in general,” says Hershan. “The tote bag had long been a staple for me but there wasn’t one out there that I felt was true to its utility roots but with a luxury level of detail.”
Hershan quickly put his skills honed working with some of the most prestigious brands to good use: “I spent almost two years refining the Utility Tote to the point where I was satisfied with it and ready to share it. The tote also represented a great launching pad into a broader collection of utility products that everyone can use regardless of age or gender.”
It’s release in mid-2020 was perfectly timed. With the populace craving freedom and feeling the loss of travel, Haulier provided a material outlet that filled some primal urge to be able to explore the world once again.
“Stylistically, the brand takes its cues from the glory days of travel, a time when people traversed the globe with style and grace. Alongside this, the brand’s moto is ‘Enduring Goods’. This holds dual meaning and represents our dedication to timeless design and lasting quality. This informs everything we do. We build our products to last and to only improve with age and wear.”
A quick background check on Hershan proves he has a knack for the intersection between form and function. Before launching Haulier, Hershan worked for local icon R.M. Williams where he created clothes that had the same rugged affability as their famous boots but brought it into a modern, urban sensibility that broke free of the bush-and-outback trope the brand has carried for so long. Prior to this, he did stints at brands Aquascutum, Dunhill and Gieves & Hawkes. While exposure to the kinds of brands that carry the weight of their heritage in every fibre they weave into a garment, Hershan says there’s a sense of liberation that comes along with the development of something fresh: “It’s long been my ambition to launch my own lifestyle brand, with a fresh outlook and without the hang-ups of 100s of years of heritage.”
It’s the small, well-researched details that carry the Hershan’s utility tote bag over the line, however. Hand-crafted in Portugal, the weighty salvaged cotton canvas used to make the bag feels both robust yet refined and the vegetable-tanned leather handles give it a sophisticated and masculine touch. Hershan says that the looms used in the process of weaving ensure that there is zero cutting waste left over from the manufacturing process. To hear Hershan describe the process, you get a sense of the perfectionism that he brings to his work. Which any designer will tell you they have, but rarely live up to their own grand claims. But compromising on quality isn’t something that Hershan is prepared to do.
“To create the 24oz canvas used for the Utility Tote bag, I sought out the last vintage shuttle looms of their kind in Europe. They are the same looms used in Okayama to weave selvedge denim. I wanted to develop a robust selvedge canvas that would stand the test of time and everything you throw at it!”
This year, Hershan has plans to expand Haulier into fully fleshed out lifestyle offering, one that will include clothing that he believes will elicit the same visceral yearning his tote did.
“In August, we are launching a new series of colours in our Utility Tote bag. Following this, an expanded wardrobe of elevated everyday items is due to launch in December. This collection takes its cues from utility and function, with some military and sportswear influences in the mix. I love the idea of mixing these codes, for me it’s more a more natural way to dress. So the collection is designed as a revolving unisex wardrobe with a trans-seasonal outlook. Hopefully, just in time for your next escape!”