Hats Off! The Story Behind Hicks & Brown
Autumn and Winter are my favourite seasons, not just because Sweden prepares for the beautiful snow storms that leave Stockholm out of a "The Edge Of Tomorrow" scene, but also because while I am trapped in the city, I can wear my favourite accessories, which are hats.
I must admit I have a thing for hats, they can make you look taller if you combine them with tall boots or even high heels. Hats can elevate your outfits and what's most important, especially for me since I moved to Sweden, protect you from the blustery nordic wind which messes your hair up, no matter how much Elnett you've used.
I always owned Spanish, French and Italian hats, I think their designs and the quality is superb. And the truth is I had never owned an english one before, so I couldn't form an opinion on them until I started my favourite hobby: shooting. People who shoot spend a significant amount of time in the countryside, where hats are a must under certain weather conditions/activities.
English hats, especially countryside hats & fedoras from Hicks & Brown have definitely conquered my heart, so they deserved this article, as I wished someone had told me about them years ago.
My first contact with English hat brands was while doing a collaboration with Sportarm and Bentley Hatfield. We organised a photoshoot in London, where I had to wear a Hicks and Brown hat. As soon as I wore it, I immediately recognised it from magazine pictures of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. She wears Hicks and Brown quite often and that precise moment I felt very lucky to be able to produce content for the brand! I felt so honoured!
I kept in contact with the brand via instagram for some time and we finally managed to get a second collaboration going on and the result was fantastic. I thought they have an interesting story so I had the pleasure of interviewing both of the founders & owners of Hicks & Brown: Alice Leet-Cook and Rosie Turner:
A: How, when and why was Hicks & Brown founded?
Hicks & Brown was born in 2014. Set up by two sisters Alice & Rosie, we felt the lifestyle hat offering at the time was really limited and plain. The name derived from our family home “Hicks Farm”, its where the idea to form our business began. We started at the kitchen table, just the two of us and sold our hats at local events - six years on we now sell our hats all around the world, it’s been an incredible journey and we feel like we are only just getting going!
A: What makes your fedoras so unique?
We offer a huge range of colours and feather variations to choose from. Our hats are all sized so we ensure we find the hat most comfortable for you to wear. We pride ourselves on the quality and the details of the felt, the feathers, we scrutinise every element. They are all water resistant too.
A: Name a few celebrities that wear your hats?
We feel honoured to have our hats worn by The Duchess of Cambridge and the Countess of Wessex.
A: Let’s talk about protocol. They say there is a hat/fedora for every occasion, can you tell us when to wear which fedora?
Our brown and green hats are definitely more suited to be worn in the countryside paired with tweed or suede. We often see these worn on the shooting field or whilst walking the dog, they are great for keeping sun and rain of your eyes. All our hats are made from wool felt so come with the added benefit of keeping your head really warm too.
Our wider brimmed hats (known as the Oxley Collection) make quite a statement and look great dressed up with a tailored coat or even shopping in the city, they are definitely a more of a fashion piece but still provide a huge amount of practicality too.
The Chelsworth Collection are our premium hats, they are trimmed with velvet, come fully lined and feature a leather headband inside making them extra special – definitely a hat to be worn on more formal occasions. We offer this with or without feathers to suit all tastes and occasions.
A: How long does it take to make one of your fedoras?
We aren’t milliners so don’t make the hat from scratch but work with a wonderful team of experts who bring our ideas to life from a sketch to the finished product. We do, however, lots of the hand finishing in our studio, adding feathers and trims. Overall the process does take months and months to bring a design to life, but that’s only because we are so particular about the quality, look and fit of every product.
A: Where do you see your brand in 5 years time?
We are hoping to develop our hat and accessories offering substantially as well as creating a mens range too. We’d love to become a household name that if anyone requires a hat they know where to come ;).
A: Which model is your best seller?
The Suffolk Fedora with Gamebird Feather is the most popular, especially so in brown – it’s such a versatile colour that really does go with anything. If you are new to hats, this is a really easy colour to wear without standing out too much like some of our other colours.
A: What is the strategy behind your social media, you have gained a lot of traction lately!
Our social media has grown organically – all down to our wonderful customers who post photos of themselves in Hicks & Brown, we love to share user content and it really helps give potential customers a true idea of how the hats look on real people. We do partner with a small number of influencers but truly only work with people who have a love for the brand – it’s so much more genuine that way, some have even bought one of our products previously so they really are bought into the brand before we collaborate with them which is lovely.
A: Any advice for those of us whose dream is to have our own clothing/accessories brand?
It’s great to be ambitious but you can start small on a shoestring, we set up just the two of us sisters from our kitchen table, we sold a few hats at small events as a hobby whilst still working full time in city jobs and it just grew from there. We never set out to be where we’ve built it to be today.
It goes without saying that running any business is the biggest learning curve ever and you can’t expect to start out knowing it all, we still learn each day but that’s what keeps us on our toes and challenged. Of course being passionate about what you do is a huge driver for growth.
Lastly, try and be original, we’ve had lots of copycats try replicate exactly what we are doing which of course can be hugely frustrating but all it does is spur us on to be more innovative and move forward with our designs.
A: Thank you so much Rosie and Alice! We will follow your journey closely and we can't wait to see the men's collection too!
For more information about Hicks and Brown, go to https://www.hicksandbrown.com/