It’s pretty hard to ignore it once you see it on Instagram: images of stylish women sporting gorgeous pleated hats (some with their kids in matching headgear) traipsing around lush meadows, sandy shores and other bucolic settings. Whether they’re donning a floaty, puffed sleeve top or a streamlined slip dress, their ensembles are elevated by an artistic statement piece—a Lorna Murray hat.
For founder Lorna Murray, her lifestyle brand was born from a quest to “translate traditional textile techniques into a contemporary context”. Its iconic pleated hats look completely modern and yet are handcrafted from a combination of dyed and undyed fibres using a low-impact production technique.
We strive to create carefully considered pieces, celebrating and empowering our artisans, while minimising our negative environmental impact.
Murray is not a typical milliner or fashion designer, but more of a multidisciplinary creative. “Since my time at art school, my creative practice has been founded on translating discarded, unwanted objects and end-of-life materials into beautiful artefacts. I explored not only textiles, but painting, drawing, sculpting and etching. This mixed-media approach informs my art practice, and continues to inform the way I design today.”
Since she created the first iteration of the pleated hat design in 2007, it has undergone a multitude of variations and continues to be tweaked and perfected. It began with one design—the Capri—and now encompasses 15 hat styles. Its universe is continually expanding. Practical and incredibly easy to pack (yes, it folds down to the size of a paperback), each hat delivers instant impact to an outfit. It’s no surprise that its fan base grows by the day.
“While our pleated hat design will always be our signature silhouette and has now become synonymous with the Lorna Murray brand, the other hats and greater variety of weaves we design provide a diverse range of idiosyncratic styles,” stresses Murray.
Here, we speak to her about design ethos and journey, plus personal style signifiers.
How did you come up with the idea of the pleated sun hat, which has become your brand’s signature?
Sculptural elements have always inspired me. Since I was young and throughout my formal art education and creative practice, I have enjoyed experimenting with textiles, cloth and paper to create dynamic sculptural forms. I love translating two-dimensional fabric into three-dimensional designs. Along my travels in South East Asia, I started experimenting with woven grass fibres. I was fascinated with the way these mattings can fold and bend, to create pleats and other shapes.
The Lorna Murray brand has grown to include clothing and skincare. Why did you decide to expand to these verticals?
I have always designed and produced clothing for my namesake label in the early days. The hats became such a large part of the business that I prioritised them and paused my clothing collections. We’re now in a place where I’ve been able to focus on a broader range of designs, and we have brought back our clothing collection.
I also believe that looking after our skin is so important. Growing up in sunny Perth, Australia, and running barefoot on beaches, I grew up free-spirited and a lover of the searing heat. However, the harsh Australian sun can have damaging effects on one’s skin. Looking after my skin has always been at the forefront of my mind, so bringing suncare into our range of available products felt like a wonderful and natural addition to our collections.
How do you choose collaborators? Is there an upcoming partner you’re very excited about?
We enjoy working with a range of collaborators to share Lorna Murray with the world. Some collaborators are nano or micro-influencers and others are macro-influencers. All bring different audiences to our brand and create divergent content. We often find that the more candid or ‘organic’ style posts relate better to our audience. This also influences our choices. We have many collaborations in the works, but one we are really excited about is with Sydney-based Content Creator, Tara Milk Tea.
Can you tell us about your plans for the upcoming Australian summer, both from a brand and personal perspective?
We are looking forward to launching a range of new hat styles, including our Manhattan, Florence, and Eden Hat Styles, which some may have seen sneak peeks of on our Instagram. We are also working on a Lorna Murray Winter Collection, which has likewise been in the works for a while now. We hope to launch around the same time for international audiences.
Personally, I am hoping to travel around South East Asia. It’s my favourite area of the world to explore!
Lorna Murray also makes bags, which one of these works as your go-to holiday bag at the moment? Are there any other bag brands you personally admire?
Our Tropez Tote Bag is my go-to bag for taking with me on my holiday adventures! Big enough to fit a myriad of essentials and makes an effortless statement.
I also have a soft spot for Oroton bags. The high level of craftsmanship and quality is always consistent, and they design classic pieces with a twist. Currently, my favourite is the Muse Worker Tote. It’s perfect for fitting in my laptop and files as I am often on the move throughout my work day.
I am in constant communication with our studios in Sydney and South East Asia, as well as working on emails, social media and more.
My mother’s vintage sunglasses
I love to wear a pair of my mother’s sunglasses from the ’70s. Her wardrobe is a complete treasure trove!
A timeless and functional item, which houses not only cards but little pieces of paper from my days, such as an old stamp I found and a beautifully-illustrated thank you card. I love to collect tangible items as they provide such inspiration to me!
I’m always sketching ideas or writing notes. I much prefer putting pen to paper than taking notes on my phone.
Pen and pencil
So I always have a tool to write or draw with.
I wear minimal makeup but my favourite way to make an outfit pop or take a day-time look to night is adding a bright lipstick colour, such as a red or orange.
Head scarf or kerchief
I love a headscarf or kerchief to use as a hair accessory, to tie my hair back, or add an extra element to my outfit. I usually have one of our Lorna Murray Èze Kerchiefs in my bag.