I say Hush Puppies and you (probably) say Bassett Hound or floppy-eared dog depending on your canine expertise. Jack Hemingway agrees but lest these 90’s prejudices of a brand that’s grown old with its market jade your view of the 21st century archetype. Cue Hemingway for Hush. Helen Turnbull spent an afternoon in obligatory posh hotel with the vintage curator and tweed suit raver talking fashion, namely shoes – the whole time silently resisting the urge to chip in with complimentary P’trique-OMGs.
“Yeah I think it’s amazing,” Jack coyly confesses after I offer my mandatory but no less genuine props for his first solo shoe project which sees him transport aforementioned doe-eyed pup (Wikipedia tells me his name is Jason) from the feet of your folks to the dance floors of where the fashion conscious apparently hang.
The potential but probable revival of Hush Puppies harvested by Hemingway for Hush is something that, on paper, would inevitably be met with caution. Jack is no stranger to the brand’s former ‘comfortable shoe’ associations but cherishes its less shouted about history: “Now, I guess, if you think of a desert boot you might think of Clarks – well actually – in the 60s the mods would have been wearing Hush Puppies,” he tells me.
However, he admits his familiarity of the brand was limited before he and his forensic eye were enlisted by Hush Puppies’ top dogs to show some love to their mascot who has long yearned for a rep that boasts more than the perfect leather loafer.
He holds the Whistle pair (or “toggle shoe”) particularly close to his heart for exactly that reason: “It was the one pair I designed with the intention of saying ‘Listen, we’re back and we’re doing it well’” but is aware it may be the one shoe in the collection that falls short of the timelessness test – a prevailing theme echoed throughout the collection.
I am surprised to learn the brand is actually of American descent but: “It has probably been cooler in the UK than it ever has in the US,” Jack posits. That is as much news to me as it is to you and was to Jack but definitely covers some mileage in clarifying the Brit sub cult connotations Hemingway for Hush has adopted in this premier partnering.
It is obvious that this man, himself dressed in attire akin to a 1940’s uniform, is attuned to the 40s’, 60s’, and 80s’ fashion and music genres. In light of this, Teddy Boy and friends were an obvious stylistic choice: “Hush Puppies have been through every single iconically British youth movement from Rockabilly to Teddy Boy through the 60’s modernists movement and because of that it made sense to reference moments in time when they stood for something great and that’s what we’ve tried to do. It’s not a trend – it will always be cool.”
The originating premise is simple really; the standalone men’s set is the result of a meticulously thought out accumulation of Hush Puppies’ best bits in homage to British Club Culture – the iconicity of said scenes and the heritage of Hush that needed a little push.
The collection offers eight separate refined styles rendered in silky soft suedes and tonal Wolverine pigskin namely brogues, creepers and Chelsea and desert boots which all cleverly encompass an element of each. Jack has imprinted his mark, literally, on the shoes’ stacked soles offering an authentic Hemingway Design finish.
This bespoke Hemingway Design finish may be attributed to him being the son of the superbly credible Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway but, understandably, Jack is eager for the collection to be recognised on its own merits. “More so than influenced this collection, they’ve influenced me as a person and a designer, throughout my whole life but (laughs) y’know what’s happened throughout my childhood,” he says of his parents, implying his folks have had valid input – albeit less direct.
As a designer Jack of all trades why shoes? His mammoth collection of 60 odd pairs – “too many” and “probably many pairs of brogues that are exactly the same” – likening him to a woman – may say it all. So what makes the perfect shoe? “A Cuban heel a la Prince nahh. Ooh I dunno,” Jack jests. As he struggles to give a definite answer we simultaneously agree: “A timeless one?” “Yeahh.”
His 40s satirical tendencies fool you into thinking afternoon tea is his favourite past time but Jack assures me he is like any other 25 year old: “I like the idea of being able to tea dance but I prefer going to raves HAHAHA but I like to look smart. Every day at Vintage (Festival) I was dressed up in a different three-piece tweed suit and brogues – it’s really heavy as well!”
I say Hemingway for Hush – you say seriously lush – as is Hemingway himself.