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Good jeans, good food, good style and good reads

Good jeans, good food, good style and good reads

Modern yet familiar: An interview with H+H designer, Lisa Ryan

Hope Voelkel

In a lot of ways, Lisa Ryan and I have grown up together. We first met in a college poetry class, but our lives became more deeply entwined post-college when we ended up in the same life place (same town, same company). As long as I’ve known her, she’s had this inherent sense of style, the Audrey Hepburn kind. So Lisa was the person I turned to when I knew I needed help designing a bag that could work within the constraints of a pair of jeans and also pay homage to the decades-old style of denim. You can see the results. 

Here, she tells us a little bit about her style and how that influences the Hem + Haw launch line.


  Photo: Cramer Photo

Photo: Cramer Photo

What informed your style over the years?

My introduction to fashion went down in the days of Jams and Hypercolor, Lisa Frank and Swatch watches. Bright colors, busy patterns. In adolescence, my wardrobe swung from preppy to hippie to freaky—think thrift-store corduroys, neon yellow shoelaces, and polyester purple argyle (shudder). By early adulthood, I’d settled into quirky-classy.

Somewhere in my early thirties I started noticing women who wore mostly black, like Grace Coddington, Georgia O’Keeffe and Louise Glück. Something in me identified with eliminating the rainbow, a severe and simple aesthetic that minimizes choices and maximizes effect.


Give us a snapshot of your style.

Now, at 35, I dress in mostly neutrals—mostly black, white, nude and denim. Within that palette, I stick to classic wardrobe essentials, like v-neck tees, slim black pants, a great pair of jeans. Black or cognac leather boots and bags makes coordination uncomplicated and timeless. Gone is the sisyphean seasonal closet refresh and wasteful spending.  


Tell us how your style informed the H&H bag designs.

I read a great quote in Esquire: “Fashion without style can be reckless. Style without fashion can be irrelevant.” Have you seen the recirculating images of denim-clad Britney and Justin at the 2001 AMAs? I didn’t want to do this classic fabric wrong.

Again, everything came down to simplicity. In choosing bag styles, we kept on the same road forged by Audrey and Jackie, that of the basic clutch. From there, straight lines, color-blocking, classic washes and leathers keep the overall aesthetic clean and neutral, since a good bag should be as versatile as a good pair of jeans. I also love how the bags can add a blue pop to a neutral wardrobe. To me, the overall H&H style feels modern but familiar.