Home » ‘Fresh and considered’: fashion label Haulier wins Australian designer award

‘Fresh and considered’: fashion label Haulier wins Australian designer award

A brand that was founded as an “antidote to mass fashion” has won Australia’s national designer award for 2024.

Haulier – a Sydney-based fashion label best known for its Utility Tote bags – was founded by the former Saville Row apprentice and ex RM Williams creative director Jeremy Hershan.

Open to designers in their first five years of business, the national award is given during the Melbourne fashion festival and is the most established prize in Australian fashion. It comes with a $20,000 cash prize as well as significant non-monetary business support.

Haulier is known for its Utility Tote bags. Photograph: Matt Jelonek/WireImage

Past winners include Toni Maticevski, Dion Lee and Romance Was Born.

“It was a really nice surprise,” Hershan told Guardian Australia shortly after his win was announced.

Caroline Ralphsmith, the chief executive of the fashion festival and co-judge of the award, said Haulier’s submission stood out for its coherence and refined manufacturing.

“They really had that cohesive design. Fresh, considered, but also the quality was there,” she said.

Hershan said it was “a big challenge” to manufacture small quantities at high quality. It was only possible due to his “background with big brands”.

Hershan said when he launched Haulier, “I called relationships into play”.

All Haulier bags and clothing are manufactured in Europe. “Our signature fabric is woven from looms in the 1960s, in a really slow manner,” the designer said.

That quality was important because “in menswear, there’s nowhere to hide”. Hershan said his philosophy was built around “buy less, buy better”.

“There’s a lot out there, but not a lot of high-quality options. I intended Haulier as an antidote to mass fashion.”

Haulier has a store in Sydney’s boutique shopping strip in Paddington. When Hershan started seeing his customers, he realised he wanted to make his garments unisex. “I think the bags were really the first foundation for that. I learned quickly that the bags sold to people of all demographics, backgrounds and genders.

“When I think about clothing, I think about the best garments in my wardrobe – it’s vintage Levi’s, a navy blazer. And they look just as good on anyone.”

Last year’s designer award also went to a brand known for a single product – Best Jumpers. Ralphsmith said that was, however, “a coincidence”.

Although they do consider business acumen when judging the award, Ralphsmith said: “We actually weigh the criteria quite strongly to being visionary and creative and [having] a cohesive language. That is more than half of what we consider.

“That said, we are looking for designers that will be able to become much more commercial and viable.”