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Why Rooney Mara is Creating Clothes With a Conscience

ANOTHER – In support of 2018’s Fashion Revolution Week – an opportunity to reconsider the industry’s impact on the world, and the people living in it – anothermag.com is running a week-long series of stories about ethical fashion. Here, we sit down with Rooney Mara to find out more about her new cruelty-free brand, Hiraeth.

Who is it? Seemingly not content with a career as a critically acclaimed, award-winning actress and dedicated philanthropist, Rooney Mara has turned her attention to the fashion industry with new design venture Hiraeth. As an almost lifelong vegetarian and longtime vegan, Mara’s brand was born not out of a burgeoning desire to design but more so out of a frustration with not being able to find clothes that allowed her to maintain her personal values, across all aspects of her lifestyle. “A few years ago I decided to stop wearing and buying leather. I really love clothes and it was really challenging to find anything that felt like it was high quality and designed, especially shoes,” she explains. “There are a lot of more inexpensive vegan options, and to me they were cruelty-free in the animal sense but I couldn’t be sure where they were being made and if they were cruelty-free in the human sense. There are a lot of people doing faux fur and faux leather but there isn’t really anyone who have also cut out wool or silk – we don’t use any animal products whatsoever.”

The word ‘Hiraeth’ translates from Welsh as ‘a sense of longing or homesickness for a home you never had, or cannot return to’. “It just really resonated with me with what we were trying to do,” Mara says. “It’s a feeling that I’ve had so many times in my life. In the world we live in today there’s just such a an extreme disconnection from everything, from each other, from the earth, from what we eat, what we wear. The meaning of Hiraeth reminded me of that of what we were trying to get back.” These feelings were mirrored in those of Mara’s childhood best friend Sara Schloat and they founded the brand together. “We’ve lived across the street together since I was one!” Mara says. “We’ve been best friends since we were 11 and have been wearing the same clothes since that time, we’ve always shown up in matching outfits by accident. We have very similar style and sensibilities.”

With neither of their backgrounds lending themselves to that of technical design, the creation process has been one of shared references alongside an appreciation for classic cuts and staple pieces. “I’ve always had very strong opinions about design in a sense but I wouldn’t call myself a designer,” Mara muses. “We have references from culture, art, we design that way, through sharing things. I think more than anything there was a mood that was very clear to me, I was particularly inspired by female artists who were socially minded or rule breakers, those pushing boundaries with art, people who were eccentric or showing the underbellies of societies.” The brand’s Instagram feed reads as an open scrapbook of these inspirations, as a portrait of Diane Arbus (who inspired a pair of studded faux-leather slippers of the same name in the debut collection) sits alongside drawings by Egon Schiele and Kiki Smith.

Why do I want it? The debut collection juxtaposes soft suiting, shirts and slip dresses in shades of ivory ‘satin’ with buttery faux-leather trousers and harnesses matched with sturdy, built-to-last footwear, in the form of combat boots and minimal loafers. Interchangeable and simple to self-style, it is created with wearability and practicality at its heart. “I love clothes, I love fashion and I love looking at it on other people but I don’t like getting dressed every day, so I wanted the clothes to have a uniform quality to them,” Mara explains. “It comes from my own sensibilities. We wanted to make clothes for a modern woman who is slightly rebellious and edgy but also dreamy and romantic. That’s kind of how I would describe myself, I like those two edges of things.”

Despite their firm brand values, Mara insists Hiraeth is not asking its audience to adopt an entirely new lifestyle to be able to wear the clothes. “It’s not realistic for most people, I think it’s better to go into it slowly,” she says. “I just wanted to provide another option that was both high quality and design. A lot of people who are going to buy our clothes probably won’t be vegan but maybe they’ll expand their consciousness about the materials of their clothes and shoes in a way they’ve never thought about before.”

Where can I buy it? From August 2018, follow @hiraeth.collective on Instagram to see the brand’s ongoing creation process, and launch announcements.

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