Q&A | HESPERIOS Journal No. 3

by Morgan Vickery

Autumn Hrubý is the founder of knitwear enthusiast and journal, Hesperios. The carefully crafted, sustainable collections express Hrubý’s philosophy of “quality over quantity,” with garments meant to last a lifetime. An extension of the brand is it’s dedication to classic and contemporary art, literature, and travel, which reveals itself in a biannual anthology— distributed internationally through art-and-design book stores, galleries, newsstands, and museums.

This month, Hesperios released it’s third edition of the ongoing journal series, marking the celebration of both established and emerging creatives. From artists to chefs to filmmakers and poets, No.3 is packed with visual references, intellectual nuances, and personal anecdotes that will galvanize any and every reader. Flaunt spoke with Hrubý post-Journal No.3 launch to chat all things Hesperios.

HESPERIOS founder, Autumn  Hrubý .

HESPERIOS founder, Autumn Hrubý.

What’s the story behind the name of your line and literary journal, Hesperios, meaning “the evening star”?

 My friend Evan Dando started calling me Hess as a nickname, short for Hesperios. At the time, Glenn O’ Brien and I were brainstorming potential names for my company to be. It was a long process, and he had several amusing options, but when I heard Hesperios, everything just clicked.  

Of all the interviews in this issue, who surprised you most, and why? 

Miranda Brooks interview. I loved discovering that she meditates with her client before each project to bless the land and ask the spirits for help. 

“In Japan there is a standard practice to have a land blessing with the client and architect before any construction begins, to make peace with who has been there before, and to suggest where the spirits can safely wait until construction ends. Once construction is complete, they are invited back to bring love and a sense of being to what was created.” 

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Visually, how has literature and the art world influenced your designs? 

Art and literature have influenced our brand in every possible way. I knew I wanted to make the perfect sweater and cardigan with reoccurring artist collaborations and less common color palettes. And of course, we publish art and literary books, which is at the heart of what we do. This has always been the idea behind Hesperios. Sometimes working with an artist on a particular cardigan will influence the range of colors for the collection, but I usually have a well-defined palette from the very beginning. I often have Maria Sibylla Merian’s books around for reference.  

As fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world, how does your brand support sustainable practices?

I’m glad you asked. This is a long answer, but it is the most important question I am asked. Hesperios has been called a “sustainable brand,” and I’m not sure what that means or if any brand can be truly “sustainable,” but we are trying, every day. I have set very high standards in the way I’d like to run everything. We are a small team, but we all care and want to do things differently and thoughtfully rather than arbitrarily pushing out more product. I think we’ve had a head start as a new company forming good habits in the early stages, rather than having to unravel detrimental ones later on. Even so, it’s a constant process which requires a tremendous amount of time to research alternative materials and more efficient methods of production. 

It was always my intention to create a well-made, high-quality product that would last forever and age well. Our collection began with a sweater; designed as something you can keep as an heirloom— quality over quantity. We produce two seasons a year, with limited releases in between, all of which are produced in low quantities, so we aren’t sitting on excessive inventory.  

We also recycle our inventory in a way that I’m proud of. In our last three collections, we selected a few styles from our inventory, like our Gayle or Lou knit tank, and combined them with pleating to create our signature Paloma and Lola dresses. Our collection also consists of a core library of year-round knits, which means we can keep these on our website longer because they technically don’t fall out of style. If we have inventory in a color that hasn’t sold as well, we dye it sustainably. Timeless and well-made products retain their value. 

All of our wovens are produced locally in New York City. This reduces the waste of packaging and shipping materials. We try to use as much deadstock, antique, and recycled materials as possible. We will never produce leather, and we’ve kept our material options to a minimum. I don’t plan on using cashmere or wool. We plan to use 100% organic cotton by next year, and we’re also in the planning phase of bringing our knit production in-house, so we are in control of all phases of production.  

I wish building a company was just about telling stories and making beautiful things, but this is such a small fraction of what is required. There can be a myriad of factors and variables which influence every decision and sometimes can be overwhelming. But we approach everything with thoughtfulness and integrity in mind. 

I’ve been a vegetarian for 18 years, and I’ve always been conscious of my environment. When I was 20, I lived on a permaculture and biodynamic farm in San Miguel de Allende, and when I moved back to the states, I viewed our resources differently. I think this experience has informed my life decisions going forward, and I’m constantly reminded of those lessons. I recently sat through the Earthlings documentary and was completely shaken. It takes you through all the industries that rely on animals and how corrupt so many industries are. After watching this, I wanted to begin taking steps to become vegan. I also became overwhelmed with all the lifestyle choices associated with this decision and that if I became vegan, I would want the brand to be as well. Suddenly, becoming vegan was harder than anything I’ve ever thought about doing, especially regarding fashion. Right now, I am gathering the facts so that it isn’t an overwhelming transition. Leather is everywhere. There is no reason when there are plenty of alternative materials to use for a handbag or a shoe. But then, you also have to be knowledgeable about how those materials are made and the waste or toxic threats they could be creating. 

 Patagonia has been a big inspiration for my colleagues and me. My best friend, Miye McCullough, is our Director of Operations, and she has a background in Conservation, so we are always talking about sustainability. She recommended a book called The Responsible Company by Vincent Stanley and Yvon Chouinard. It has been my ongoing resource for information. I recommend this book to everyone, both personally and professionally. You can learn from their past mistakes as a company, how transparent they are, and what they did to learn and improve not only their production but practices on a global scale. The bottom line is that it takes a community effort to create change. The book is also a reminder that while mistakes are inevitable, what counts is how we solve each problem. 

Everyone on our team has a genuine interest in sustainability. We enjoy the research process equally as much as the creative one. I’ve been a member of an innovative design library ever since we started, which gives architects and designers access to sustainable, biodegradable, recyclable, certified organic materials around the world. They have an actual library you can walk through and scan swatch cards; giving you instant access to suppliers who produce bio-leather from pineapple juice.  

I don’t want to turn a blind eye to our ecological crisis. If I’m made aware of something that isn’t right, I will go to great lengths to try and correct it and make it better. But I have to remind myself that it cannot happen overnight.