Friday, 15 March 2013

Interview: Lynne Hiriak, Cardigan

I first discovered Lynne Hiriak's beautiful line of knits Cardigan New York through Caroline (who models for the lookbook) and immediately fell in love with their timeless and cozy aesthetic. Dedicated to the eponymous item, Cardigan was founded by Lynne in 2008 after stints working with high end designers such as Michael Kors and Derek Lam. I caught up with the New York based designer to discuss Bardot, Birkin and and her rumored 200 and counting cardigan collection!

Where are you and what are you doing right now?
I’m in my kitchen working at my new kitchen table, taking my apartment back (after 8 month-oops!) after moving my design studio out of Williamsburg Brooklyn and back into Manhattan. Love the space, hate the commute!

How did you get into design?
I started sketching when I was young. I was obsessed with dancing and ballet, so I used to sketch all the pretty ballerinas in their costumes. Ballet and costume obsession eventually led me to fashion illustration which inevitably let me to Design.  I had private lessons in high school for foundation art (my mom sent me to privates because she was afraid I didn’t have the talent…) , and then I started getting scholarships to Moore College of Art in Philly for high school weekend fashion illustration programs. And there I was hooked!

How would you describe the Cardigan aesthetic in three words?
American in Paris

Who and what influences your designs?
Each season is always quite different, but the common threads of influence are always iconic women such as Brigitte Bardot, Kate Moss, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jane Birkin, etc. I love maritime and beach motifs, so you can always spy an anchor every once in a while, and of course Cardigan is famous for our take on the French Stripe. Classic motifs such as Dots are always in my design vocabulary both at work and at home. If you ever came to my apartment, I’ve got dots and stripes everywhere! I lean towards clean, graphic and classic.  It’s also how I personally dress.

Talk us through the design process.
Each season I have a very large board about 10 feet tall that I create that particular season’s mood on. Sort of like a live Pinterest board. On this board, I pin up clothes, photos, tearsheets, proportions I am feeling and objects of the moment. I then translate that into a collection and of course, start with sweaters first. Recently I’ve added several other categories such as cut and sew knits, and silk wovens, so it’s gotten a bit more busy at the studio lately!

Who is the Cardigan girl?
Everyone can be a Cardigan Girl.  Cardigan first came about as a way that a customer could buy into her favorite item in her closet. Sort of like your favorite white shirt, or your favorite pair of jeans, Cardigan was meant to be democratic..Something for everyone because I intended Cardigan to be everyone’s favorite go to piece. The one  you throw in your bag, wear on the plane, continue to keep wearing even after there are holes in the elbows. Now Cardigan has expanded beyond just cardigans because everyone kept asking me for cute striped pullovers. My mantra is to keep it simple, keep it real, and keep it colorful.

Are you limiting your brand’s vision to knitwear or will you be expanding into other garments?
This spring, I expanded into silk print wovens. It came about because I’ve been obsessed with soft silk pieces for a while now, and I honestly just wanted some cute clothes to wear with my Cardigan. I was getting bored with how I was wearing it (jeans), and I’ve been into breezy clothes lately. I’ve always been a print girl, and love to wear them, so I decided to create pieces that I needed in my wardrobe. I created essential staples of tanks, tees, dresses and shorts. Spring is launching on the website next week  and I’m pretty excited to roll out the new goods and get feedback from our loyal customers. (hopefully positive!)

How would you describe your personal style and how does that manifest itself in your designs?
I’m a simple person who loves buying in multiples. I have a very simple wardrobe and I have lots of the same items but just in different colors or patterns. I own multiple pair of denim, have tons of  tuxedo shirts, shorts, indian cotton shirts, striped tees and sweaters, sweatshirts, etc. I’m a big accessories person and I shop in multiples also. I have the same bags in different colors, Fringe wedges (I have like 4 pairs), tons of fringe moccasins, lots of ballet flats, clogs clogs clogs, and  tons of leather sandals from Florence. I get obsessed and love to collect as many versions of the same thing. I am also an avid scarf and jewelry person. I own tons!

If you could steal anyone's wardrobe - past or present - whose would it be and why? 
Past- it would be Chanel’s. But It means that I would have to steal her style too. Because I couldn’t pull off her wardrobe without her essence. Her boy meets chic woman style was so cutting edge then.  She was a real renegade, and she dressed so simply. Present- Kate Moss. Her wardrobe is sublime.

What are your 5 wardrobe essentials?
1) Cardigans. Of course. In every possible way
2)My favorite patchwork denim jeans. It cost more to patch it than the jeans themselves are worth!
3) Fringe moccasins boots from
4) All my merino french terry sweatshirts. Two always travel with me
5) My  striped sailor tees.

Any beauty rituals?
Yikes. I’m obsessed with beauty now that I’ve turned over 40. (should have started at 30!). I’m into holistic care, so I have pretty much switched over to all natural products. I use a rose face cream from that is incredible.  I make all my own body oils and fragrances.  I mix several essential oils and give them as gifts to friends. My ultimate secret which I will share is I have been using  an essential oil elixir for my hair from for over 15 years that has become my signature scent! I also am a big fan of Peppermint as a cure all and carry it with me at all times. It relieves migraines and hangovers and  helps keep me focused!

What’s coming up next for you?
My Partners in my business are from Peru so I’ve been doing a lot of traveling there lately. I leave again in another month. It’s been very exciting and very rewarding as Peru is so beautiful and rich with culture. I’ve been working more with artisans and getting more involved with making other product besides sweaters and knits. I’m still trying to figure out what it all means, but I am loving every single experience.  My next trip, I FINALLY get to go to Macchu Picchu and I cannot wait!!

Describe your perfect day
My life is so crazy, I love to keep it simple.
Wake up- (preferably upstate NY at a friends house)
Drink my juices and smoothies for breakfast
Swim and be lazy by the river all day.
Drink ice cold prosecco and have a charcuterie with cheese and arugula platter for lunch
Swim and be lazy again
Barbecue outdoors for dinner which includes a mozzarella, tomato and basil salad
Red wine
Lay on a blanket and watch the stars

For more of Lynne's work, visit her website.


  1. Lovely interview. I must say: there are definitely a few great pieces I would love to wear (also in the menswear section!).

  2. I love your interviews so much! I would love to try her cardigans.