When Melbourne local Ema Hewitt was working as costume designer overseas in 2012 she noticed a gap in the market for vivid, colourful men’s clothing.
“I used to live in LA doing costuming for TV, and I really struggled to find bright menswear,” she says. “I was interning on season six of Mad Men, too, so that was a great insight into retro clothing.”
In 2014 she launched her own label, HEW. The Collingwood-based brand is all about print, pattern, colour, and lots of it.
Each season, Hewitt collaborates with different Australian illustrators, artists and graphic designers to create singular prints for her patterned shirts. Past collections include finely dotted digital prints by Melbourne illustrator Laura Bernard, and a haphazard, painterly print by artist Augustus Geddes. Collaborators are sometimes friends, sometimes Hewitt approaches a designer, or vice versa.
The striking prints and colourways in each HEW collection feel retro, but the cuts are thoroughly modern. The latest spring/summer range is collaboration with graphic designer Rachel Kelly. It takes inspiration from Miami in the 1970s and the city’s pastel-hued, Art Deco buildings. One shirt features a multicoloured, geometric-tiled print that plays on the city’s eclectic architecture.
HEW also has a range of colourful shorts, socks, ties, and bow ties.
“I’ve found that men can’t be that adventurous with their dress in corporate workplaces, so they love wearing patterned socks instead,” Hewitt says.
You can find Hew online or in the SO:ME section of the South Melbourne Market. The label also has a stall at this weekend’s Big Design Market at the Royal Exhibition Building.
“Markets are a good way to introduce the brand to lots of customers in a short amount of time,” Hewitt says. “It’s great for a small business.”