Ah, nostalgia. What a feeling – a driving force and an anchor all in one.

The ability to use the past as a foundation for building something fresh for the future or the danger of staying rooted where we cannot return.

Fashion is all too familiar with nostalgia; the sneaker industry cannot get enough of it. From Nike's near-constant Air Jordan retro releases to ASICS revival of the GEL-KAYANO; Mizuno, Saucony, everyone is in on it.

Our attachments to the clothes and sneakers of our youth are hard to shake, so when a re-release or "inspired" product gets it wrong, it feels like a major disappointment. These mistakes tend to happen where minor adjustments make major differences – changing the size of the toebox on an Air Max 1, for example.

The greatest success stories lay in bold risk-taking, using nostalgia as a catalyst to experiment, rethink, and recontextualize products in meaningful ways, testing the limitations of archival design.

HH-118389225 is on track to be such a success story.

With the extensive history and high-performance, survival expertise of Helly Hansen's products in the palm of its hands, the line is nostalgia done right.

With the arrival of the new HH-118389225-212 collection, we sat down with Design Director Dorte Vedal and Artistic Director Graeme Gaughan to discuss the line's new visual identity and modular design approach.

Given Helly Hansen’s rich history, how did you go about picking a start point to begin developing what HH - 118389225 – 212  would become, and will evolve into going forward? 

DV: The starting point for the 212 collection, and setting the tone for the collections to follow, was the introduction of the Ægir Ocean Modular Smock top as a key inspirational piece. This is a ground-breaking, versatile garment, which is built to handle unpredictable conditions in ocean racing.

Developed together with insights from ocean sailors, the smock has an abundance of details and technical features that come together in a true Helly Hansen look. The hood is an important part of this, but also the removable panels and insulation are designed to help the wearer prepare for fluctuating temperatures and challenging weather. We revisit this piece every season because it is so grounded in our DNA and is a constant reminder that our main driver is to keep people safe and alive in some of the world’s harshest environments.

GG: For me, visually it started with the adaptation of Helly Hansen’s "Storm Hood”, which was a key “spark” element for the physical and narrative side of the entire range moving forward. It is an important part of Helly Hansen's professional sailing kit, but it also takes on another mood and persona when adapted into the urban environment.

I also wanted to look from the outside in at what sets Helly Hansen apart from its peers. The ocean is a huge part of the brand’s DNA, and so we see the "Storm Hood” as being integral to each HH-118389225 collection going forward. The fact that the hood can dock with many different products also makes the range supermodular, allowing the wearer to adapt their gear based on their needs day-to-day. And in today’s changing conditions, both in the city and in nature, this is very important.

In what ways is HH - 118389225  maintaining Helly Hansen's DNA, and how is it evolving it?

DV: We stay true to our core, which is developing professional grade gear to help people stay and feel alive. We secure the quality and technicality of the product by having the same product team construct and develop both HH - 118389225 and our professional range.

There is a clear visual destination between this collection and initial collections released under ‘Helly Hansen Archive’ – how did this change come about, and why did you think this was important? 

DV: The first Archive collection was launched as part of our 140-year anniversary and was built around some of our historical iconic pieces, and the collections to follow were also about celebrating iconic looks and styles from the past and changing the theme for each collection.

We had a need to anchor the Archive collection in our technologies and current brand DNA. The move towards incorporating present technologies and stories was a turning point that also offered possibilities for us to reimagine functionality and technologies into a different framework – and secure the further evolvement of the collection.

The change was important not only to encourage innovation but also to create a consistent look and story that could build from season to season.

How has modular design informed the creative process? 

DV: The modularity sparks a lot of ideas in the product team but also intrigues the wearer – it is about discovering hidden features in your garment, the notion that there is more to the product than what you see at first glance.

GG: On the other hand, I think ethics also has something to do with it. I often hear people say things like, “oh my dad had a HH jacket and he still wears it 35 years on”. And it is great to hear that these products are so long-lasting.

True performance products ultimately need to last, it is the most responsible way to approach product design. We want these products to be worn for a long time. And to do that they need to be able to work with the products we develop in the future.

Will modular design elements be adaptable, or useable from one collection to the next?

GG: Yes 100%, that’s the point really. We want you to be able to take a “Storm Hood” or jacket from this collection and to be able to dock it with a jacket or other styles in say, 2025. We are also developing multipurpose products in the near future that have uses beyond clothing.

Which products in the extensive Helly Hansen archive are you most excited to work with as a point of reference? 

DV: For me, the excitement is not in a specific product – it is being surrounded by a product team that is curious and investigative into new ways of utilizing our technologies and constantly asking how we can improve our product to master the elements and protect the wearer.

Do you think modular, functional design is important to the modern consumer?

GG: I think it is important to anyone who puts any level of effort or physical exertion into their day-to-day. Be that commuting on foot running up and down escalators, or by bike for example.

You will at some point be hotter or colder based on your movements. And knowing you can take off or adapt parts of your outerwear offers you a great degree of flexibility. But in addition, knowing that the system you are wearing has been tried, tested and can also protect you in much more extreme outdoor environments is quite a comforting feeling.

Which products in the extensive Helly Hansen archive are you most excited to work with as a point of reference? 

DV: For me, the excitement is not in a specific product – it is being surrounded by a product team that is curious and investigative into new ways of utilizing our technologies and constantly asking how we can improve our product to master the elements and protect the wearer.

The HH-118389225-212 collection is available to shop online at LNCC, and is coming soon to MATCHESFASHION.

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