V News: Gigi Hadid's Guest in Residence Cracks The Cashmere Code
The supermodel's cozy new brand of style essentials are ready to become your new wardrobe staples
The supermodel's cozy new brand of style essentials are ready to become your new wardrobe staples
With scores of runway shows and editorials under her belt, it’s safe to say that Gigi Hadid knows fashion. After all, making clothes look good is her job. But while the supermodel is best known for flaunting other designers’ creations, her latest project sees her stepping into the role of designer herself. A debut three years in the making—clouded by the uncertainties of everyday life–Hadid founded her very own all-cashmere clothing brand, Guest in Residence. Named after the notion that we are all guests—on this Earth, outside our comfort zones, and in our clothes—the brand’s luxurious knitwear reflects Hadid’s affinity for quality, comfortable pieces. Launched today, the brand’s offerings fall into three categories: foundational core knits, timeless seasonal pieces, and limited-edition drops. Each versatile design can be layered or worn alone. While Hadid draws inspiration from the cashmere staples she’s acquired over the years, she also incorporates splashes of vivid color and unexpected styling. Besides lending her unique POV as creative director, the fashion icon also sets her brand apart with thoughtful crafting. The use of long fibers decreases pilling, while a tight-tension knit ensures each piece is made to last. Stylish and supermodel-approved, Hadid’s knitwear is sure to be a welcome guest in any closet.
To learn more about how the brand came to fruition, V's Digital & Beauty Editor Kevin Ponce caught up with Hadid to chat about how the brand went from idea to concept to product.
Kevin Ponce: Let’s get into it! From the Gigi Journal to now, Guest in Residence–congratulations on the brand! I heard about it through Stephen [Gan] when he sent me videos of you giving him a walk-through of the collection and I was like ‘Wait, what is this?’ I had no idea that you were doing a brand.
Gigi Hadid: *laughs* Oh my god, he's so funny. He was filming everything!
KP: I immediately thought ‘Why not get Guest In Residence in our new issue?’ and here we are.
GH: Thank you! Appreciate you!
KP: We got to talk about the name of this brand–Guest in Residence. Where did that even come from? I feel like you would expect it maybe to be named after yourself, but it's nice that you did something a little unexpected.
GH: When going into this process, naming it after myself or being the singular face of this brand was not something that I was interested in. I'm not even really interested in being in the campaigns if I don't have to be *laughs*. I want people to be fans of it and buy it. I know that I have some of the most amazing fans in the world and they support everything I do, but I also want people to know that I'm doing it from a place of integrity and I want to put good clothes out there. I want them to be timeless and not feel like it's tied to a brand that has to do with just putting stuff out there to make money. I think that's why I turned down a lot of partnerships and opportunities to do more fast fashion or just different types of collections that I could have done in the last few years. Guest in Residence was a kind of term that I always found interesting. While I was sitting with different names or phrases that I found interesting, I started to think about guests, and residents, and what that actually means. I think people will relate it to a movie as if someone's staying in a hotel for a long period of time. They become the guest in residence. To me, it has a much broader feeling to it, which is that we're all guests and residents of the clothes that we own, and the clothes that we own have a life before us. And hopefully, if they're made well enough, they’ll have a life after us. We're also a guest and a resident of our own bodies, the houses we live in, this planet. I think that cashmere kind of has a tie between all of those things. It's a material that, if you take care of it correctly, can last decades and different lifetimes and be passed down through generations. It also can be buried in the ground, it’s a natural fiber. I think that Guest in Residence is kind of a nod to creating something and being a consumer of something that you realize is not just for yourself. You're only a guest in this whole situation. A Guest in Residence to me is someone that is at home with themselves and whatever city they land in, whether they're camping or at a nice dinner with 10 people they know, or by themselves at a movie theater, there is a home within themselves. I feel like cashmere kind of does that for people. It's a material that is comfortable yet luxurious. For me, this brand is about making a luxury item not so exclusive as it's been for a long time.
KP: I love that the whole line is based on cashmere because I feel like it sort of brings back a lot of memories. Some of the pieces that you have from your parents are pieces that are treasured. They are something that you keep in your closet as a staple for what you put on–whether it's being at home or going out. How do those memories, whether it’s visual memories like seeing your parents wear cashmere or whether it was sensory such as feeling it and it brings you back to a place, play into the collection that we're going to see?
GH: When I moved to New York, it was the first time that I lived in a very intense winter. One of the things that each of my parents sent me to New York was a cashmere sweater and my dad gave me a scarf. They taught me how to take care of them because I don't have to wash them every time. If you hand wash it, you do it with something that works on your hair, you roll it up in a towel, and hang it outside. It kind of feels like something meaningful to be passed down and taken care of. I think that both of my parents have that sustainable way of investing in their wardrobe, which is what I hope to inspire with a brand like this is. I think a lot of people right now are caught up in the feeling that they have to have new outfits every day because of the way that our lives are photographed and shared so constantly. But I think that if you buy quality pieces that are simple and beautifully made, you can style them in a hundred different ways. And that kind of ties into what we did with the first campaign. It’s this sense of investing in beautiful, well-made things and passing them on to people that you love.
KP: Right. In that sense, they become little treasures in your closet, you know what I mean? A lot of things in our closet, and I feel like everyone can speak on this as well, are quite disposable. It's nice to have the focus on longevity for a company, especially for a new brand. Having that sort of mindset, what did the beginning stage for the pieces look like? Did you sort of start out thinking, ‘I want the perfect sweater, the perfect jogger and when I'm 25 to when I'm 80, they're always going to work?
GH: So at this point, the design process is different, but when we started, it began with our core collection, which will be available year-round. And exactly like you said, we wanted to start with that. During every design process, I start by closing my eyes and thinking about the people that are in these clothes–where they are, what they're doing, who they're with, and who they pass this down to. So it [was about] the perfect crewneck hoodie, track pants, pajama set, turtleneck, polo shirt, that kind of simple things. We started with probably a hundred ideas and really edited it down to what I think is a beautiful basic collection for so many people. It's funny that you said I can wear this now and I can wear this when I'm 80 because our first campaign is a one hundred years yearbook, which [showcases] a hundred people and their portraits from age zero to hundred, all styled completely different but in the same basics. There are moments that I thought of about me sitting and taking off a Guest in Residence piece and passing it to my friend on the couch, and then taking it home and their grandma picking it up. I want things to have that feeling. When things are beautifully and simply made, they actually take on your energy much easier.
KP: At that point, it’s sort of like a second skin when it's that special and that treasured in a way.
GH: Those pieces will always come in the core colors of tan, ivory, black, gray, and navy. Seasonally, they'll come out in new fun colors. If you have your favorite crew neck and you already have it in black and almond, it would then come out in a bright yellow, lime, hot pink, or whatever. I think it’ll be fun for people because something that I experienced shopping was that I would fall in love with something and I wish they made this every season in a different color. You can usually never find it again so I'm trying to bring that element in.
KP: Going back earlier when speaking about collaborations, I think the most notable one that you did recently was with Frankie's Bikinis and a few years ago with Tommy Hilfiger. From those combined experiences of knowing what you love and then having done special capsules, what are some of the things that you've learned from those experiences that you’ve applied towards Guest in Residence, in terms of a business model and visual feel for the brand?
GH: There's an unimaginable amount of things that I learned. I think generally [I’ve learned how] to work with a design team and understand how best to do that. Having four seasons at Tommy Hilfiger was such a blessing because when I look back at [being] the creative director of that collaboration, I was a completely different person and leader from the first season and to the fourth season. That comes with someone giving you the opportunity to have enough time to learn how to articulate and imagine with other people and how to do it on that big of a scale was really crazy. I'll always be so grateful to Tommy for that. They have all the infrastructure there, when you do a partnership like that, you come into that situation as a person whose own style and brand is being asked to infiltrate this other brand. So my goal with Tommy Hilfiger or Frankie’s Bikinis was to really only bring my style into it because those brands have such an identity on their own. Right. Obviously, my style is definitely in the pieces but I also have to think about a lot of different kinds of people. I really appreciate the team that I have for that. On my design team, I’m surrounded by people whose style and taste I really trust, so we have a back-and-forth process and I'm not always the one that's winning or my answer goes first. But I love that and I think it's part of what makes us all feel really close by the time that the collection comes out and we see that first sample.
KP: How did you find the right members to join you in building this brand together? How did you navigate and do outreach for that? I feel like it can be hard starting from the very core bottom of team building.
GH: I have two partners whose previous brands are ones that I love and respect so I trust them a lot with that kind of stuff. Also, people's background and resumes, I trusted them on a lot of the more technical jobs in our company. When we found factories, we all did that together and we were all learning in the process, which was really fun. My head of design, Sijeo [Kim] was one of the people that we interviewed. Obviously, people’s background definitely has something to do with it, and where they are trained and have designed previously, But Sijeo as a person just clicks with me. You don't really know that it’s working until you get your first sample. I'm an artistic sketcher but she's a technical sketcher. So even if I draw something one way, she technically draws it another way. The first time we got our samples, I was like ‘Sijeo's my girl, she just gets me.' I'm just a people person and I think that it really shows in the team that is there. But besides that, Rossella [Rafi] I used to work with it at Tommy Hilfiger, Kevin [McIntosh Jr] is one of my best friends. Ronde [Coletta] has been my publicist and friend for almost 10 years. Gabriella [Karefa-Johnson] is one of my best friends and she's styling for us. It's just people that I've trusted for a long time and over the years. I feel like this is my first opportunity to have them all join in for the ride with me and I'm just grateful that I’m not scared.
KP: That's amazing. Team building is always a bit scary because putting trust in people is the most vulnerable thing you can do. I feel like you have to let that subside in order to let the true art and the project as a whole come to fruition, and it’s for the better. There’s not one person that knows everything single thing. It's letting that control not get in the way of things is what I can imagine can be difficult, especially when it comes to your own brands.
GH: It's just nice to go into it with people that have already seen me work for a long time, you don't have to re-explain anything and they've seen me in crazy situations *laughs* so that's nice.
KP: I feel you there. And with the brand finally being released, it was mentioned somewhere that it’s been three years in the making, which is kind of crazy because I think I last spoke to you about two years ago for part two of the Gigi Journal, and when you were expecting Khai, so that means you were well underway with it already, right?
GH: Yes! Before COVID, I was doing a lot of research on cashmere generally and just trying to learn more about it. I wanted to understand why something could be called a hundred percent cashier and be $90 or $3,000. I feel that it is such a sustainable material to own and sometimes it says a hundred percent, but it just falls apart differently. So I went to a lot of different cashmere companies and learned about how would you [identify] the different levels of integrity with the materials and the pricing, and that's kind of where I started a few years back.
KP: I can definitely see Guest in Residence falling in the middle of brands like Naadam who do the $75 cashmere sweater and then there are brands like Loro Piana who do $4,000 sweaters. I think it's a good in-between because in the business game of fashion, and in terms of finance for a lot of people, you lean one way or you lean the other, but where's the in-between? Maybe that’s an untapped market that normal consumers probably don't really look into. Personally, I haven't really thought about the cashmere game up until recently.
GH: There are a lot of brands that will sell it at a certain price point and call it a hundred percent cashmere, but they're technically using shorter fibers. So they're cheating on the front end, which is why it falls apart faster. I mean, those are great sweaters and I'm not saying I don't have them, but you can buy five of those a year or you can buy something that will last much longer. I think [when it comes to] learning about materials, we should all do this more regardless of if you're trying to start a brand or not. We should all look more into the materials that we're putting on our bodies. I feel that's the direction that we're hopefully headed in.
KP: I think we kind of have to now because people would be shocked to understand that if there was a cigarette next to an extremely poorly and cheaply done shirt, it can go up in smoke because of the material and treatment processes used, you know what I mean? It becomes a conversation about sustainability and what ends up in a landfill versus what stays the course in one’s closet. I think it's about educating consumers who may not know the difference between fiber on a sweater, about whether something is going to last or not last.
GH: And I didn't know that either! *laughs*I didn't know these things until I actually looked into it, but I think that it's important when you're putting out a product to understand what is the best way to give your consumer the best quality material and at a price that's fair, and not just put it up for the purpose of the brand name.
KP: Exactly. And now with Guest in Residence finally being released, why was now, especially with everything that we've gone through as a world together, the right time to release this brand? Especially, after having a baby and the personal experiences you've gone through in recent years.
GH: It was something that I was interested in doing before COVID hit, right? So I had a long time to think about and understand exactly what I wanted to do. This is why when we were all able to start, and when we started with zoom meetings and were able to meet in person, we really hit the ground running and it was really fast getting started from there because we all had a lot of time to think about it.
KP: Deadlines–gotta make them!
Kevin Ponce is V’s Digital & Beauty Editor.
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