Anya Hindmarch MBE

Anya Hindmarch

Areas of Interest

Arts, Business

Honorary Award

Honorary Doctor of Arts, 2011

Biography

Anya Hindmarch is the modest but irrepressible handbag designer and style-icon who is known around the glamour cities of the globe for her brand of gorgeous but delightfully-understated bags, clothes and accessories.

Anya started her business during the 1980's when she was just 18 years old. With an eye for detail, design and quality, her business has grown to a multi-million pound fashion empire incorporating 54 branded shops in 17 countries around the world including the US, Italy, France, Japan, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

Born in Essex into an entrepreneurial family, Anya was educated at New Hall School in Chelmsford. After leaving school she went to Florence to learn Italian as part of her gap year prior to further education. It was while there that Anya noticed the popularity of the classic leather duffel bag and, seeing the potential for these bags in the UK, she borrowed the money to allow her to import some to England. Anya sent one bag to fashion magazine Harpers & Queen and as a result of this she sold 500 of them. She had started the internationally-acclaimed Anya Hindmarch business and consequently she never made it to University.

Anya went on to design her own bags and inspired by the drive and determination of Margaret Thatcher and the entrepreneurial spirit of the times, she opened a small shop in London. Her early products were heavily influenced by Italian design principles and all her pieces are based on quality of workmanship, with a British emphasis on humour and bespoke adaptation. They are also influenced by a continued interest in architecture. Anya has two London flagship stores - on Sloane Street and Bond Street, as well as her shops across the globe and her designs are popular with film stars and celebrities.

In 2001 Anya launched Be A Bag' to support the Lavender Trust, which raises money specifically to fund information and support for younger women with breast cancer. Bags are personalised with a customer's photograph and were intended to be a limited edition charity promotion, but they are now available in over 25 countries. These bags were auctioned to support the American Red Cross after 9/11 and have since benefited 31 charities worldwide.

In 2007 Anya, in collaboration with the global social change movement 'We Are What We Do', designed the global sell out Tote bag 'I'm Not A Plastic Bag' and also launched Anya Hindmarch Bespoke with a store in London, where the craftsmen work on the shop floor.

Anya is also a design consultant to British Airways. In both 2006 and 2007 Anya was voted Designer of the Year by Glamour magazine, and became the first winner of the Designer Brand of the Year at the 2007 British Fashion Awards.

In 2009, Anya was awarded an MBE in recognition of her contribution to the British fashion industry. Later that year she was awarded the 'Bravery in the Face of Adversity' award by Luxury Briefing and nominated as one of the 25 most influential people working in Britain's fashion industry. A Trustee of the Royal Academy of Arts, Anya also sits on the Royal Enterprise Committee, is a Trustee of the Design Museum; and organises fundraising events for the Conservative Party.

Anya is an outstanding businesswoman and an exemplary role model for students on our BA Fashion Design course and to those studying the BA Enterprise and Entrepreneurial Management. Moreover, she is an inspiration to everyone for her extraordinary talent for developing one exceptional idea.



Citation

"Vice Chancellor, it is my pleasure to read the citation for Anya Hindmarch MBE for the award of Honorary Doctor of Arts.

Anya Hindmarch is the modest but irrepressible handbag designer and style-icon who is known around the glamour cities of the globe for her brand of gorgeous but delightfully-understated bags, clothes and accessories. She is a top British export despite the fact that she has had no formal training in business or design.

Anya started her business during the 1980's when she was just 18 years old. With an eye for detail, design and quality, her business has grown to a multi-million pound fashion empire incorporating 54 branded shops in 17 countries around the world including the US, Italy, France, Japan, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

Born in Essex into an entrepreneurial family, Anya was educated at New Hall School in Chelmsford. After leaving school she went to Florence to learn Italian as part of her gap year prior to further education. It was in Florence, one of Europe's most beautiful and fashionable cities, that Anya noticed the popularity of the classic leather duffel bag and, seeing the potential for these bags in the UK, she borrowed the money to allow her to import some to England. Anya sent one bag to fashion magazine Harpers & Queen and as a result of this she sold 500 of them. She had started the internationally-acclaimed Anya Hindmarch business and consequently she never made it to University.

Anya went on to design her own bags which were produced in Hackney, East London. Inspired by the drive and determination of Margaret Thatcher and the entrepreneurial spirit of the times, she opened a small first floor shop in Walton Street, London SW3, off the Brompton Road. Her early products were heavily influenced by Italian design principles and all her pieces are based on quality of workmanship, with a British emphasis on humour and bespoke adaptation. They are also influenced by a continued interest in architecture. The company is now based in a former brewery in Battersea. Anya has two London flagship stores - on Sloane Street and Bond Street, as well as her shops across the globe. Her designs are popular with film stars and celebrities, including Scarlett Johansson, Sienna Miller, Madonna, Claudia Schiffer and Reese Witherspoon.

She launched Anya Hindmarch Bespoke in September 2009 with a store in Pont Street, London, where the craftsmen work on the shop floor. The Bespoke Collection focuses on individual pieces that are made personally for the customer. These pieces have hidden details and are personalised with handwritten messages and the name of the person for whom it is made.

'Be A Bag' is another concept created by Anya and launched in 2001 to support the Lavender Trust, which raises money specifically to fund information and support for younger women with breast cancer. Bags are personalised with a customer's photograph and were intended to be a limited edition charity promotion, but they are now available in over 25 countries. These bags were auctioned to support the American Red Cross after 9/11 and have since benefited 31 charities worldwide.

In 2007 Anya, in collaboration with the global social change movement 'We Are What We Do', designed the global sell out Tote bag 'I'm Not A Plastic Bag'. On the launch day, 80,000 customers queued to buy them and a further 190,000 customers registered for the bags online. While she admits to thinking that fashion is sometimes 'a bit frilly', this is just another campaign that Anya can be truly proud of.

Anya is also a design consultant to British Airways. In both 2006 and 2007 Anya was voted Designer of the Year by Glamour magazine, and became the first winner of the Designer Brand of the Year at the 2007 British Fashion Awards.

In 2009, Anya was awarded an MBE in recognition of her contribution to the British fashion industry. Later that year she was awarded the 'Bravery in the Face of Adversity' award by Luxury Briefing and nominated as one of the 25 most influential people working in Britain's fashion industry. A Trustee of the Royal Academy of Arts, Anya also sits on the Royal Enterprise Committee, is a Trustee of the Design Museum; and organises fundraising events for the Conservative Party.

Anya is not just driven in her work, she is married to it. Her husband, James Seymour, is a director of the company and together they have five children.

Anya is an outstanding businesswoman. She is an exemplary role model for students on our BA Fashion Design course and to those studying the BA Enterprise and Entrepreneurial Management. Moreover, she is an inspiration to everyone for her extraordinary talent for developing one exceptional idea.

Vice Chancellor, it is my pleasure to present Anya Hindmarch MBE for the award of Doctor of Arts, honoris causa."