Hester Van Eeghen has been on the cutting edge of making quality leather goods in Europe for over two decades. Her use of shape and color is unique in the industry. Van Eeghen recently launched HVEUS.com to extend her reach beyond boutique stores in North America.
Thanks to Hester for participating in this Q&A.
Q. Tell us about yourself – what you do and how you got to where you are today.
A. As a student 25 years ago I fell in love with a one of a kind shop in Amsterdam with “can you believe it’s still for sale” products. What to do with these treasures of fittings, laces, buckles and accessories? I absolutely wanted to use these materials for my own creations and, over time, I developed my own handbag line: structured objects in unusual shapes with little stories behind them. The public’s enthusiasm grew and grew as every purse became a new treasure hanging from your arm. In the beginning, I constructed the bags myself and later began working in Italy with incredible people who could transform my ideas into a reality.
Q. What makes your work different compared to your peers?
A. No one has worked in these shapes and colors and whimsical expressions. Of course you have the classic Hermes and Chanel bags, but bags created as a surprise, as something you cannot resist opening, those were hard to find.
Q. What attracted you to leather work?
A. I loved the smell, the touch, the flexibility, the many possibilities of leather. Leather work is a dying process, but I love the way it allows me to use my favorite surprising colors. I find pleasure in the top layer of the leather, and the ability to shape it into something beautiful.
Q. You’ve been designing fashion goods for over 20 years – what aspect of the process do you find the most satisfying at this stage of your career?
A. To create for all kinds of individuals: young and old, romantic or graphic, shocking or silent, colorful or sedate, soft or hard.
Q. What are the differences between designing for the European and American market?
A. One major difference is that European people often ride a bike, so they want handbags with a long strap, whereas Americans almost always drive a car so they presumably prefer shorter straps to wear on the shoulder.
Q. What kind of person has a Hester van Eeghen bag or wallet?
A. My typical client seems to be very independent, free of mind, intelligent and has an eye for detail. They are often art lovers who appreciate quality and think of my bags as pieces of art because of the material, shapes, and surprises.
Q. What kind of advice would you give to someone interested in getting into the fashion industry today?
A. Passion, power, and curiosity! These are the three major elements for discovering all aspects of fashion. I also feel that volunteering is extremely important to gradually discover where your talents are.
Q. Is it true that you are a Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau? What was it like to receive such an accommodation?
A. It is true, but knighting is a symbolic event. It is kept as treasure inside of you. To know that people are impressed by my work and wanted to show that and celebrate that with me is a surrealistic fairy tale and is extremely touching!
Get Hester Van Eeghen works at HVEUS.com.
Here’s a look at Hester and some of her work: