Branded Content

Hot As Hell: 20 years of Hell Bunny, the alt. clothing brand designed to make everyone happy

As London-based retro fashion company Hell Bunny throw a huge party for their 20th anniversary, Kerrang! meets long-time designers Stephanie and Sarah to find out about their most far-reaching inspirations, why Halloween collections always rule, and how they’ve spent two decades making their customers feel good…

Hot As Hell: 20 years of Hell Bunny, the alt. clothing brand designed to make everyone happy
Kerrang! staff
Queen Riot Productions, Isobel G Creative, Spiked Photography
Campaign photos:
Rhian Cox

Just as classic albums released by the likes of Linkin Park, Evanescence and Fall Out Boy celebrate their 20th anniversaries this year, 2023 marks a special two-decade birthday for alternative fashion brand Hell Bunny. But while nostalgia tours and record reissues are all the rage for bands, the London lovers of all things retro instead decided to mark the occasion in their own unique way: with a swanky rooftop bash at the capital’s iconic BFI.

“The party was a lot of fun!” enthuses Hell Bunny fashion designer and illustrator Sarah Cake, who has worked at the company for the past 11 years. “It was great to celebrate with the whole team and with a lovely bunch of influencers and fans. We got to hear a lot about what Hell Bunny means to our customers, and since it is Hell Bunny’s 20th year, some styles we haven’t heard about in a very long time were mentioned (laughs).”

Swipe across to see more photos from Hell Bunny’s 20th anniversary party

It’s little wonder attendees partook in a wistful trip down memory lane, though. After all, this is Hell Bunny’s modus operandi: since the very beginning, they’ve aimed to create pieces that live long in the memory, where fast fashion is shunned in favour of lovingly-made, timeless looks. They’re not in the business of cheap trend-hopping; it’s all about authentic artistry.

“Because of all the different customers we sell to, we get to try a lot of new things,” says Sarah. “Hell Bunny has always been so welcoming to new ideas and developing itself. It’s impossible to be bored designing for a brand with such a diverse audience.”

“I love the freedom,” agrees fashion and textile designer Stephanie Viallon. Want to know just how much? This 20th birthday party was also something of a personal occasion, too, as she’s been a part of things since the very beginning. “We’re lucky to be able to design prints, shapes, styling and finding ideas for photoshoots without too much restriction,” she adds, pointing to just one of the reasons for her longevity in the job.

This relaxed approach means that both Sarah and Stephanie eagerly look just about anywhere when adding fresh, quirky designs to Hell Bunny’s extensive collection of dresses, tops, jumpsuits and everything in-between. From trawling through vintage shops in treasured local spots like Brick Lane and Portobello Road, to visiting countries over 5,000 miles away…

“I went to Mexico and it was so inspiring for me,” smiles Stephanie. “I loved the landscape, cacti, the colourful walls and mosaics on the houses, the Day of the Dead figurines, the colourful embroideries on traditional clothes… This trip is a recurrent theme in my designs.”

Both are extremely passionate about music, too, and have often turned to it as a muse (no, not that Muse). While Stephanie names style icons David Bowie and Blondie, Sarah points to the ’90s grunge scene – “I can never get enough of tartan or metal trimmings!” – and artists like Amy Lee, Nova Twins and Bring Me The Horizon who have unknowingly provided her with that extra jolt of creativity.

“Going to gigs has been one of my main hobbies since I was 14,” she explains. “I love the atmosphere and how people express themselves in the crowd and onstage. My two favourite genres that inspire me right now are rock and metal, and K-pop – both are completely different but have so much fun with their fashion and styling.”

Swipe across to see much more of Hell Bunny’s Autumn Winter 2023 collection

It doesn’t mean we’ll add anything to our Hell Bunny virtual baskets based on Bring Me’s new album Post Human: NeX GEn in the near future, though. That’s not because it won’t be inspiring – it’s down to the fact they’re already finalising their designs for next autumn.

“We work so far ahead that I’m really looking forward to our new SS24 collection to come out,” says Sarah. “We’ve also just finished AW24 so I’m excited to shoot our next Halloween range!”

Indeed, when Kerrang! ask for a rare moment of self-indulgence from the two and enquire about their respective favourite Hell Bunny pieces or collections over the past 20 years, spooky season comes out on top.

“I always liked Hell Bunny’s Halloween collections, and it’s fun to design, too,” enthuses Stephanie. “I am a big fan of black dresses with Peter collars, so I think for me it’s a range of little black dresses in velvet with embroidered white collar – one of them was called Graveyard mini dress. And I love Mexico dress print.”

“There’s been so many collections I’ve liked,” says Sarah. “I always end up loving the Halloween collections we do for Hell Bunny every year. There was actually a dress Steph designed called Harlequin ’50s dress; it was a black and pink check with pink roses pattern. I rarely wear colours but I loved it. I ended up recreating it the following year for Halloween – it was called Hauntley dress and changed it to black and white check with black roses and bats!”

And it’s these eagle-eyed details, Stephanie proclaims, that differentiates Hell Bunny from other alternative brands out there.

“I think the prints are what makes Hell Bunny so unique and different,” she says. “They are all designed in-house.”

“We cover such a variety of styles of clothing,” concurs Sarah. “We are always keeping in mind what our audience is asking for and try to incorporate that where we can. We want our clothes to give people confidence to try new styles they might have not tried before.”

Hell Bunny also ensure that everyone is able to get involved and embrace alternative and retro fashion if they so desire. Having recently extended their range from size XS to 6XL, they make a genuine, conscious effort to be as inclusive as possible. It is of paramount importance to the brand.

“We have a whole team that makes sure our fit is perfect for all types of body shape,” explains Stephanie. “It makes me so happy when I see comments from our customers feeling good about themselves when they wear Hell Bunny.”

“We want our clothing to make everybody happy,” adds Sarah. “We have a great technical team who we work very closely with for all our fits. And we try every style we design on ourselves.”

All in all, then, it’s been 20 years very well spent. But, looking further into the future, what else do they hope to achieve at Hell Bunny?

“It would be nice to expand the range to accessories, bags, and shoes,” says Stephanie, “and have few Hell Bunny shops.”

“As we design our prints in the studio, it would be great to be able to put our artwork on some new items other than clothing,” adds Sarah. “And hopefully in another 20 years we’re still making people feel happy about themselves when they wear Hell Bunny!”

We’ll cheers to that. Now, who wants a slice of birthday cake?

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