Founded in 2018 by friends Alice Isles and Kirsten Judd, Hej Hej (pronounced “hey hey”) started life as a fashion label dedicated to the versatility of linen. It’s since branched out to include both lightweight and cold-weather-friendly knitwear, while building a local reputation for easy-wearing staples in playful silhouettes and a mixture of bright and neutral tones.

The label’s new winter release, Let’s Go Outside, launched today, with a second drop coming in July. Aiming to quell the unavoidable gloom of shorter days and stormy weather, it includes pieces in spirit-lifting tones of periwinkle, sage and cobalt. The collection also builds further on the label’s knitwear offering, with a new jumper style – the Comfort Creature knit – made from a very soft, sheer blend of kid mohair and spun silk.

“We knew we wanted to create a collection of colourful knits, [as we felt] the market was saturated with black and beige,” Isles and Judd tell Broadsheet. Colour is the starting point of all the duo’s collections; they begin with the overall palette, building silhouettes and styles from there.

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Of the new fabric, they say, “Over the last couple of years, we’ve been looking for a natural fibre that would allow us to create a sheer, lightweight knit that was soft and non-itchy. This yarn ticked all the boxes.”

Elsewhere in the concise seven-piece collection, the new Bad Nan cardigan is for those who like their knitwear thick and relaxed. It’s made of navy mohair and wool, with large pale shell buttons and a crew neck. The sage-coloured Checkmate set combines a long fitted skirt with an oversized polo, each made from a sleek, lightweight combination of silk and cashmere. Its check-shaped weave is a monochromatic pop of texture.

Judd namechecks the Knitty Gritty jumper as her favourite piece. With its purply periwinkle shade and polo-style button front and collar, it’s another mohair-wool blend to beat the chill.

When the pair started their label, Judd was based in Shanghai while Isles was in Auckland. Late last year Judd moved back to join Isles in New Zealand’s biggest city. “We’re both based in Auckland for the moment and enjoying working together in real life for the first time.”

Supply-chain hold-ups have undoubtedly been tough for fashion labels over the last couple of years, and with its major suppliers based in Shanghai, Hej Hej hasn’t escaped the issue. But during her decade on the ground in China, Judd established some strong relationships the partners can rely on while “adjusting to a new way of doing things”. Meanwhile, Hej Hej has “lots of exciting things in the pipeline” – from a new collaboration launching with the July drop, to an embroidered fabric making its debut this summer.

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