Over the past year, Hello Darling’s irrepressible headbands have become a bit of an Instagram sensation. “I’ve sent headbands to Australia, New Zealand, The Netherlands – it’s just wild how people find me,” designer Miriam Delos Santos says. The Winnipeg-based maker rarely even uses hashtags on the joyful posts spotlighting her statement headwear, with their neon pompoms and sculptural ruching (picture a Scrunchie, but for your whole head). When she does, however, it’s #CrownsUp.
The hashtag is an encouraging mantra about girding yourself to face the world, one that Delos Santos says comes from watching women try on her headbands. “It’s almost like something changes in their brain, in the way they hold and carry themselves,” she says. “It’s that little accessory that can make you feel empowered. I can carry this off and I look great. It’s such a little piece of self-care.”
Entrepreneurship runs in the Delos Santos family. Her parents, who emigrated from the Philippines, opened Winnipeg’s beloved Spice World market 23 years ago and it’s now operated by her brother, Aaron. Hello Darling likewise began as the quirky fashion and accessories that Delos Santos created for her young daughter during many high-stress years working in the corporate world and politics.
Today, from her whitewashed studio in a North Point Douglas building filled with other creatives, Delos Santos works instinctually and on her own schedule while embracing the line’s childlike exuberance. “That joy of being a kid and wanting to play – that’s what I take from her,” she says of her daughter. “It’s about experimenting and having fun.”
The people who buy Hello Darling headbands are generally not timid, but they do tend to work their way up in scale. A gathered mini-croissant, for example, is a style that Delos Santos dubs a level one headband. “You still get that statement effect but it’s not adding a foot to your height,” she says. Whether they’re fashioned in red braided velvet inspired by Frida Kahlo’s signature coif or faux fur reminiscent of teddy bear coats, Delos Santos favours the whimsical and unexpected. For fall, there are hints of metallics and romantic florals in the mix.
Many of the pieces are limited editions, making use of fabric ends. “I don’t want to make a million of something,” she says. “It’s nice having balance and knowing your limitations as a one-person artist to say, ‘I only have 10 and that’s all there will be.’”
Hello Darling’s apparel is a more subtle foil for the headpieces. “I love colourblocking on any day,” Delos Santos says of her popular one-size-fits-most Nati dress. Named for the aunt who introduced her to sewing as a young girl, the comfy boiled wool cocoon is an easy work-from-home piece. This season, there will be fleece versions. “I know that I have a lot of [women with] diverse body types who purchase my clothing,” she says, “As a curvy girl, I want to feel fashionable and confident.”
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