Marin Hopper comes from a family used to making things. Her father, actor Dennis Hopper, and her mother, actress and author, Brooke Hayward, filled her childhood with exotic collectibles, fascinating art, fabulous people, and an overall beauty, now reflected in her accessories brand Hayward. A few years ago, Hopper stumbled across an archive of her grandfather’s, Leland Hayward’s (agent, producer, and aviator) old letters and telegrams. It was a historical trove of her family’s travels, photos, and inspirations – plenty of story to give life to her burgeoning design career. Soon after, she launched a custom accessories business and fueled by the line’s success she launched a full collection in 2013. Two years later came the exquisite atelier, Hayward House, that serves as the brand’s flagship on the Upper East Side.
You’ve led a most interesting life! When you look back on your experiences, were there premonitions along the way that steered you in the design direction?
My parents collected art, and they made it themselves. So to make fanciful but practical objects that are carried and used made perfect sense to me.
The brand is described as a translation of your family story – can you elaborate on this?
I design custom pieces of hardware that both came out of and relate back to my family story. The whole brand functions as a kind of symbology. It’s about people who make things, and make things happen. Those typically are the customers it draws too.
Having worked in fashion for years, and with exceptional personal style, what was missing from the marketplace that your brand fulfills?
Thank you for your kind words! As a luxury, American heritage accessories brand, there really is nothing else like it in the marketplace. Part of what makes Hayward unique is that it is 100% true! We own our factory which is in NYC – so our products are all made in America. And we have the archival materials to illustrate it all, going back to the 1920s.
Were the particular elements of the brands you worked for previously, (Tods, Hogan) that helped you define what you wanted out of your namesake brand?
Yes! Both Hogan and Tods were very clear about who their customer was. Also, Diego della Valle was deeply proud of the Italian handcrafted heritage of his brands. I found that inspirational. I was determined to celebrate the spirit of America and have the work be done by American craftsmen.
Why did you launch as a custom business only in 2008?
I really wanted to develop the business authentically, one step at a time. That was the best way to start.
When did you know it was the right time to expand the business?
When the business took off! The marketplace tells you; I just listened.
How do approach a new season? Or new products? Is the family the only source of inspiration?
I love storytelling. Every season, I curate the goods around a particular story. There is always a connection to the family. Sometimes it is very specific, but it can also be very abstract.
Are your handbags available wholesale?
How does the architecture and interiors of your NYC flagship, Hayward House, reflect the signatures of your brand?
I can’t think of a better way to tell this family story than in a wildly eccentric and beautiful mansion – with rooms that run from richly embellished – to palomino paneling that evokes the Wild West – yet it is on the Upper East Side!
Are you based in New York? What do you love about the city?
Yes, I am based here. I love the velocity of New York! So much happens here, and so fast! It’s a city filled with an unstoppable plot!