Bridget Barnett and her sister recently launched their new initiative THE EAST, a curation of balmy, bohemian accessories sourced from South and South East Asia. We asked Bridget about starting the brand, where she sources her own style inspiration from and some of her favourite pieces from the recently launched collection.
Name: Bridget Barnett
Occupation: Content Creator / Founder of THE EAST
Hometown: Noosa, Australia
Current Residence: Hong Kong
Your style sense in 3 words: Resort, Relaxed, Quirky
I like to start these interviews off with the same question - How did you come to be in HK?
Actually I’ve been based in Hong Kong since I was two years old! My mother is South African, my dad is British, and I was born in Australia. I grew up here, moved to Australia for school and university and came back about five years ago to take a job within the Lane Crawford Joyce Group. It was initially just a 2 month temporary contact, but I ended up working there for almost five years.
You’ve just launched your new label THE EAST, What was the basis behind the idea and how did you decide to start the business?
About five years ago my sister and I had a jewellery label called Barnett – it was oversized, statement jewellery with skulls and tassels that we used to make ourselves. I had just taken a new marketing job with On Pedder, and my sister just gotten a new design role with Adidas and we didn’t have the time to work on it properly and it fell to the wayside. I always wanted to get back into jewellery again. I didn’t see the need to be hand creating pieces, and I knew there was already so much great stuff out there in Asia – if you know where to look – and that was sort of how it started. Why not source some amazing stuff from people that actually have the skills to make beautiful jewellery, instead?
I’m the founder of THE EAST, but I definitely can’t take that much credit – I work with a handful of different suppliers and artisans who design the accessories. Plus my sister Kate does all the graphics and branding.
Where does the collection come from and what are the inspirations behind the collection?
We’ve just launched last month so we’ve started super small with an edit of earrings from India. The plan is to grow into other areas of Asia too, with a focus on regions in the South and South East. Aesthetically, THE EAST is really about accessories that are embellished and bohemian and have a sort of a resort feel, and there are some many countries within these regions that encompass that. India was an obvious place to start.
Currently you’re collection is focused on some ‘wow factor’ earrings. Have you got plans to expand the collection into other pieces?
Totally! I’m looking into other types of jewellery and accessories such as bags. I wanted to start with a small and tight edit initially and earrings just felt right. They are still having a bit of a moment right now, so it felt like a natural place to start.
Do you have some favourite pieces in your current collection?
Most days I’m wearing EDITION 6, which are mini jhumkas in gold thread, because they are so easy and go with everything. For evening, EDITION 1: I love the star detailing – and they are unbelievably lightweight which is a plus if you’ve got hours on the dancefloor ahead of you!
What are some of your favourite labels, in no particular order, and why?
Reformation: Their styling is always perfect but I think the reason I love this brand so much is how they communicate with their customers. Their e-newsletters are literally the only piece of email marketing I open!
Aquazzura: I love every single pair of his shoes! Anything with fringe or pom-poms and I’m on board. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the designer, Edgardo Osorio, a few times over the years and every time he’s just been so nice which just makes me root for the brand even more.
Palm Angels: I’ve got a soft spot for skate brands and this one does it best, in my eyes. Before Palm Angles launched as a brand, the designer, Francesco Ragazzi, created a super dope coffee table book that documented the LA skate scene so beautifully. Every image on their tumblr is perfect too. The whole brand has this sort of lo-fi, 70s Lords of Dogtown feel which is aesthetically so strong, and which I’m completely obsessed with.
This month on Rug Lane we’re talking about the Anti-List, making lists of things we love or things to do, places to see but not ordering them so as not to be opinion pieces but rather shared information. Can you give us a list of recommended/ favourite places you’ve travelled to from Hong Kong and why they are special?
Chatuchak market, Bangkok – Definitely not off the beaten track, but it’s still my number one place to shop in the world. I’ve been going for as long as I can remember with my family. I know the vintage section of the market like the back of my hand. I go with an empty suitcase and fill up on the denim jeans, jackets, shorts and skirts (my second love after baller accessories is pre-loved denim). My sister and I also collect vintage biker and band tees and most of our collection is from Chatuchak. Over the years, I even found not one but two perfectly worn Harley Davidsons tees with my last name BARNETT on the back, with the correct spelling. My most prized possessions!
Galle Fort, Sri Lanka – I went early this year for the first time and loved it. It sort of feels like you’ve stepped back in time. It’s beautiful, rich is history and everything moves so slowly. We stayed at the Amangalla which was beautifully restored old building. Not a cheap accommodation recommendation, but an incredible one!
You can find out more about THE EAST here. While you're there, browse through their amazing collection of earrings before they all sell out! Bridget will also be at The Rug Lane Markets Vol. 3 on September 10 at Rhoda selling some rare THE EAST pieces so be sure to come down and check it out.