60 Seconds With Hej-Hej Designers Alice Isles and Kiki Judd

Tasty chit-chat with Ashleigh Cometti over fresh sushi and sashimi at SKYCITY’s MASU by Nic Watt

The linen-loving duo bide their time between offices in Shanghai and New Zealand. Photo / Rebecca Zephyr Thomas.

Viva invited Alice and Kiki from Hej-Hej to SKYCITY’s premier Japanese restaurant, MASU, for a chat over fresh sushi and sashimi. It’s the restaurant with the reputation that that needs no introducton, proferring the finest Japanese fare with a traditional sake for a contemporary dining experience like no other.

Let’s set the record straight, how do you pronounce Hej-Hej? Where did this name come from?
A lot of people say hedge hedge — it’s pronounced “hey hey”. Kiki did a lot of travel through Sweden, and when you walk into stores there they say ‘Hej Hej’. Naming our brand was so hard. We wanted something that was fun, approachable, and memorable.

The way you connect with your consumer is very tongue-and-cheek. Was playfulness and relatability a big part of your business model?
We want our brand to be friendly and fun, so communicating in a way that a friend would is important to us. We don’t want to be a fashion brand taking ourselves too seriously! We want all of our communications to be like a conversation, and to make someone laugh when they scroll our Instagram feed.

Who is the Hej-Hej girl?
She is a young working mum. She is looking for brands that are approachable, and she needs versatility in her life. She likes to look good, and appreciates colour, fun, and quality. We’ve recut some of our popular styles in new fabrics, like the Babydoll Savage in a new stripe. We think of our collections as little capsules, so all the pieces work together. Kiki always says, if you put the whole collection in a suitcase, you could wear the pieces to any occasion.

What vibe can we expect at your presentation?
It’s on a yacht called the Pacific Eagle. Our spring collection is called “Cruise Control”, so the idea was for our guests to arrive on the boat and feel like they’re on holiday. We’ll also be serving G&Ts which will be fun!
What’s the first thing you’ll do when your presentation ends?
We’re getting off the yacht and heading straight into Endemic in Ponsonby to set up our pop-up shop. Kiki lives in Shanghai and is only here briefly, so we have to squeeze in as much as we can while she’s here.

Hej-Hej. Wednesday, August 29, at, 4pm. Off-site.

• MASU is home to Auckland’s premier robata counter, where you can sit and witness the kitchen action — from chefs preparing ingredients to plating the finished product. Discover the traditions of sake and how it can be incorporated into any dining experience. This November, MASU will be part of SKYCITY’s Fashion on Federal event, a celebration of the Melbourne Cup, fashion, and long lunches at your favourite Federal Street Restaurants. For tickets, visit Fedst.co.nz

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