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Features / Workwear

Workwear: photographer Hayley Louisa Brown on her wardrobe

Photography:

Elliot Kennedy

If you’ve spotted young hip hop publication Brick on a newsstand of late – a chunky magazine with a punk sensibility and Wiz Khalifa’s cheeky gaze staring out from its bright white and fluorescent green cover – you’ll already be au fait with the work of photographer and founder Hayley Louisa Brown, perhaps without even knowing it. At 25 she’s shot more musicians and hip hop mainstays than most could even name, and with issue two underway, contact sheets falling out of her pockets and an energy that demonstrates exactly why her subjects seem to open right up to her lens, she’s only just getting started.

In the middle of a move, Hayley has been camping out at a friend’s Dalston studio, which is where we photographed her this summer. Her uniform ranges from tough and industrial staples when she’s shooting, to a collection scattered with streetwear, skate brands and high fashion influences, not to mention a T-shirt collection so sprawling it seems to be taking over. Here she is, in her own words.

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Elliot Kennedy: Hayley Louisa Brown

Hi Hayley. What are you wearing today?

I’m wearing a Bianca Chandon T-shirt, a pair of black American Apparel slacks, and my very worn out Chanel shoes, that I need to get resoled.

When did you get them?

I did a big job a couple of years ago, and I was like ‘fuck it. I’m gonna buy myself some Chanel shoes with the money.’

Is that the first time that you’ve done a big job and then bought a treat?

It was the second time. The first time I did a big job I bought myself a Prada handbag.

Nice!

Yeah! I don’t ever really do it. I like wearing workwear-type things, and they’re never that expensive, so occasionally I’m just like, ‘you know what? I’m just gonna spend all my money on something fancy.’

What’s the story behind your T-shirt?

It’s by a skate brand, Bianca Chandôn, that I think is really cool. One of [the brand’s founder] Alex Olson’s main reference points for the collection is Paris is Burning, and that will probably go over quite a lot of skate guys’ heads. Also, I feel like Bianca Chandôn is quite a feminine name – it’s unexpected and a lot of people don’t really clock it still as being a skate brand, and I think that’s just an interesting way of doing it. I’ve got one of their skate decks with a guy voguing on it, and it says ‘the legendary house of Bianca’ on it.

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Elliot Kennedy: Hayley Louisa Brown

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Elliot Kennedy: Hayley Louisa Brown

What do your working days tend to be like, and how do you dress for them?

I go to meetings a lot, and I hate carrying a bag around with me when I don’t have to, so my leather jacket is like my favourite thing. It’s literally got about 30 pockets, so I can fit all of my stuff in it and not have to carry my bag around.

When I’m shooting I’ll generally wear Dickies – is it 874s or 873s? – the original loose trousers, just because they’re super comfy. My assistant Rory wears really good Carhartt ones with all the pockets, and he literally has all of the stuff that you need for a shoot in his pockets. I never really wear skirts and stuff because I’m all over the place when I’m taking pictures, and I don’t want to feel self conscious about what I’m wearing – that’s like the last thing that I want to be. I try and look a bit more professional.

Have you got a power outfit for the tricky meetings?

I’ve got like a pair of high-waisted woollen Sonia Rykiel trousers that I tend to pull out, they make me feel quite in charge of my life. It’s funny how clothes can make you feel like that.

Do you tailor how you look to who you’re going to be photographing?

Not really, I think being comfortable is the most important thing for me. The only thing I wouldn’t do is wear a T-shirt of the artist I was shooting. That would be a bit creepy.

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Elliot Kennedy: Hayley Louisa Brown

How has the way you dress changed over the years?

I used to wear a lot more streetwear than I do now. I’ve always really liked skate brands and trainers and that, but I feel like the way that I wear it now has changed. Now I’ll mix it with trousers and cleaner things.

What’s your favourite thing you’ve ever found?

When I went to LA in March I had it in my head that I wanted to get a Prince T-shirt while I was there, they’re so expensive here, and we went to the flea market at the Rosebowl and I think I’d basically manifested the situation into happening; I walked past a stall and turned my head and there was the Purple Rain T-shirt hanging up. That’s my favourite thing I’ve ever found.

Do you remember the first music T shirt you ever bought?

Yeah I do! I don’t know whether I should tell you though… It was a Limp Bizkit T-shirt, and I still wear it to the gym now, I still have it. Also, when I was a kid, me and my brother used to be really into wrestling, and I bought a The Rock hockey jersey when I was like eight in a man’s medium. It was huge, but I used to wear it all the time, and I still wear that to the gym. The amount of people who are like ‘where is that from?’ Sometimes I’m really glad that I was a weird hoarder child and didn’t throw any of my stuff away.

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Elliot Kennedy: Hayley Louisa Brown

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Elliot Kennedy: Hayley Louisa Brown

Are you still a hoarder?

I’m quite good now, I just really like T shirts. I have loads of T shirts. I like the graphics.

How do you keep them? Are they all hung up in a row?

Oh my god no, I wish! They’re just stacked. I have a stack of ‘these are really cool and I’m never gonna wear them,’ then a stack of ‘these are the ones that I wear on a regular basis.’

Why don’t you wear them all?

Just because I’m really boring, I don’t wear much loud stuff or bright colours. A lot of them I just buy because they’re really cool, but then I’ll never wear them. Like I’ve got the worst bootleg Misfits t-shirt of all time, and because the ink was so bad they’re all red and purple. It’s like the coolest thing, but I never ever wear it.

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Elliot Kennedy: Hayley Louisa Brown

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Elliot Kennedy: Hayley Louisa Brown

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Elliot Kennedy: Hayley Louisa Brown

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Elliot Kennedy: Hayley Louisa Brown

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Elliot Kennedy: Hayley Louisa Brown

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Elliot Kennedy: Hayley Louisa Brown