Carrie Johnson has positioned herself as a champion of rented fashion but attending an event at private members’ club Oswald’s in Mayfair on Monday night, the prime minister’s wife swapped pre-loved for a brand new statement dress from British label Wiggy Kit.
“I was catching up on the Daily Mail and I thought that’s familiar!” says Wiggy Hindmarch, brand founder and wife of William Hindmarch, brother to famous handbag designer Anya. “I’m amazed how many people sent the article to me,” says Hindmarch, who had no idea Johnson was going to wear one of her designs.
The dress Carrie chose is a long-sleeved A-line midi dress made from a mixture of cotton canvas and velvet, with a military bib-style neckline, and it’s still available to buy on Matches Fashion and Wiggy Kit’s own site for £695.
“I’ve definitely seen an upswing in interest since she wore it and the marketing department has contacted us to make us aware of that as well. It was one of our bestsellers even before this, and we were already down to our last few, so I wouldn’t imagine it will be around much longer.” Hindmarch won’t be restocking the style this season, after all, part of her USP is making short, limited runs of exclusive pieces “so that when you do buy it you don’t feel like everyone is going to have it.” She adds: “My pieces tend to sell out very quickly and once it’s gone its gone.”
The Wiggy Kit brand launched in 2015 and initially the focus was resortwear with one, summer-centric collection a year. In September last year however, the brand dropped its first ever autumn/winter collection (from which came Carrie’s dress), in response to popular demand. “Clients kept asking me what I wear in the winter as they wore my brand all summer then felt lost. So I found I was rattling off emails with recommendations of other labels I liked… but I found I was also getting impatient not finding what I wanted to wear. Which is why I decided to just make it myself – and translate my typical style in a winter direction.”
Hindmarch initially trained as a dancer at school, and then jumped straight into fashion upon graduation getting a job on the shop floor of Cole Haan in New York where she grew up. The early years she spent working in retail proved invaluable when it came to starting her own brand. “I wouldn’t have been able to start this business and run it successfully if I hadn’t had that understanding of the customer and the retail industry and how hard it is. You have to put blood, sweat and tears into it to make it a success, and that’s what I do because I love it.”
The clothes are made in India and Portugal and Hindmarch designs her own prints and makes all her own fabrics, which she regards as a central pillar of her business. The client base is broad, spanning girls in their mid twenties to women in their seventies, but the core client base is early 30s to late 50s, which makes Carrie the perfect poster girl.
Did Wiggy look to her sister-in-law Anya Hindmarch for business advice when she launched? “To be honest I had so much experience already that I didn’t actually need to consult her. And probably I think back in those days I would have been too shy to ask her anyway. She’s quite a busy woman! It would have made sense to have asked her for advice on a lot of things, but strangely I didn’t. I had done so much work for brands already I felt I knew what I had to do and how to do it.”
Anya will often wear Wiggy and vice versa. “In fact the other day someone who was helping buy for her didn’t realise we were sisters in law and included my brand in the selection!”
One wonders if it was the same stylist that accessorised Carrie’s Wiggy dress with a beaded Anya Hindmarch crossbody bag on Monday night. Could that really have been a coincidence? “You know, we have no idea. We were having a bit of a laugh about it as a family, the duelling Hindmarch brand situation! It’s quite funny. I have absolutely no idea whether it was a coincidence or not. Certainly Anya wasn’t aware and I wasn’t – but we did have a giggle about it.”
Regardless, the sisters-in-law were thrilled to see Johnson supporting British brands. “The British fashion industry is not always supported,” says Hindmarch. “So it was really nice to see.”
As to whether she’ll be adding Johnson to her gifting list for the next collection, Hindmarch hasn’t decided. “Ooh that’s got me thinking… I probably should be! She is welcome to come into my studio anytime she wants.”
Read on for Wiggy’s routine and her must have fashion and beauty products...
What is your daily uniform?
Inevitably it is a dress and boots or sneakers or skirts with a cashmere knit and, of course, it is always Wiggy Kit. Sometimes I will do some slightly off-beat drop crotch jean with one of my tops to toughen it up and make it irregular.
What do you wear to work?
I am fortunate that now as I am producing a winter collection in addition to my summer pieces, I now always have something Wiggy Kit to wear. However, if I have lots of fittings to do that day I will wear loose and comfy clothes that are easy to pull on and take off as I will spend most of my day in my underwear trying on samples.
Do you work from home?
Occasionally and I do find it can be very liberating mentally to work from home away from the studio as I find it can allow me to be a bit more creative when designing if I am alone in my home. Having easy access to all my interiors, design and travel books give me lots of inspiration. My kitchen is housed in a very modern all glass annexe which sits in my garden and staring out the changing seasons is always a great pondering spot.
What are the most treasured pieces in your wardrobe?
I am long on coats, sweaters, shoes and boots and just keep accumulating them and never culling. I will hand down my much loved Anya Hindmarch coats to my daughters as they are so timeless and chic (I wish she still made them).
What’s on your wishlist for Spring ‘22?
Well, I’m lucky enough obviously to have all my clothes basically sorted, so it’s things like blazers, coats, accessories, shoes, jewellery, knitwear and bikinis to complement my collections that I am always on the look out for. I am an expert shopper and it is something I really enjoy. But one thing I have had on my list for sometime is to go to Paris to get a bespoke Charvet Shirt made - I will design it with them in their Atelier, chose the fabrication and then you can keep these on file and reorder in whatever fabric and start collecting them.
You live in Chiswick - do you have any favourite shops in the area?
The Old Cinema on Chiswick High Road is a bit of an antiques mart where you can often pick up something interesting or just to have a bit of a browse. Foster Books is a beautiful little gem where you can discover first editions, second hand and antique books as well as engravings and prints and various books that you never knew you needed. Macken Brothers our local butcher who is amazing- we live off their de-boned Marinated whole chicken in ‘Indian Mystery’ rub.
Talk me through your beauty regime...
Eve Lom cleansing balm (£55, SpaceNK), Dermalogica vitamin C serum (£85, Dermalogica.co.uk) during the day, Drunk Elephant F-Balm electrolyte water facial mask (£44, SpaceNK.com) or Kora Organics Noni Glow sleeping mask (£43, SpaceNK.com) for night or a really lovely face oil like Le Creme Beaute rose facial oil (£65.5, lacremebeaute.com) or Sundari facial oil (£50, Sundari.com).
Before I apply makeup I use Bobbi Brown vitamin enriched face base (£46.50, boots.com). I swear by Vita Liberata Beauty Blur in Latte (£21.13, lookfantastic.com) to give me a dewy, glowing base, hourglass hidden concealer to even out skin but a different one for under the eyes (I have soooo many)I switch between them but always like Trinny London (£26, Trinnylondon.com) just a touch or Bobbi brown corrector (£21.50, lookfantastic.com). I play with a lot of makeup and have drawers and drawers of the stuff and I will change it up due to the time of year, what I am wearing, the weather, what my skin is looking like. I also really love those chubby eye sticks like the metallic Laura Mercier Caviar eye stick in burnished bronze (£16.66, Boots.com). Oh yes and one more trick - Chanel Le Blanc Rosy Light Drops (£40, Chanel.com) are a winner for lighting up the face and zero glitter.
If you had to pack just 5 things for a holiday, what would they be?
A brown or faded rose coloured Bikini by Fella Swim, Roman studded flat gladiator sandals by Valentino, sunglasses by Celine and, currently from the Spring/Summer collection, the Maxi Privet dress in red seersucker and the Market Dress in indigo cloud printed linen as they are both super versatile, day to night, beach to bar.
How would you sum up your style?
Classic with a twist, not afraid to take risks, I play with proportion and like interesting exaggerated cuts, prints and colours. I always want to be comfortable and won’t sacrifice comfort for style. I often like quite masculine tomboy dressing to counteract too much sweetness.