Hikalu Jane Talks Style vs. Fashion, Trends vs. Timelessness, and How Buying Shapes a Retailer's Identity

Until recently, Hatchet Supply's owner and founder Gene Han handled all the buying in our shops himself. This is to say that he selected every product we carried over the past 10 years. To be a buyer for Hatchet Supply requires a breadth of knowledge of outdoor and fashion brands around the world, an ability to forge strong relationships often across cultures, analytic skill reviewing hard numbers, as well as that prophetic knack of knowing what will be desirable months in the future.

We are very excited to say that Hikalu Jane has taken on this role at Hatchet Supply. We spoke with her about her personal style and her approach to the new role.

How did you become interested in fashion?

I think I’ve always been more interested in style versus fashion to be honest. As a child, I’d admired people or eras specifically for the style. Both my parents were super stylish and being stylish was 100% a family affair.

Are there specific periods of time that you consider particularly formative when considering your own style? Why were they so impactful?

My father was a pretty stylish person and the first person I’d looked to for inspiration. He was born and raised in Japan in the 60s/70s post-war, so his tastes were heavily influenced by what Japanese culture saw as “Americana.” We’d go to this giant warehouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn called “Domsey’s” and dig for everything from 60s era USAF field jackets to vintage 501 jeans. Sometimes I’d find random pieces like a vintage Jimmy Hendrix tour shirt or an old factory jacket - some of these pieces I still wear today. My dad also loved the outdoors and we went camping/fishing in Catskills often so there was a lot of L.L. Bean, Patagonia, Orvis and Top-Siders (Made in Maine of course) type brands in the mix. I think he paid attention to history, where things were made, the materials, and what stories clothes told - that affected my view of style a great deal. I think stylish people can wear well made pieces that can be worn forever - a consistency that translated to me as confidence.

How would you describe your own style?

That’s a hard one to answer but if I had to describe it, I would say a cross between Northeast trad/vintage outdoor meets New Yorker.

How would you describe Hatchet Supply’s style?

Hatchet Supply is at the cross section of a lot of things but I think, if we had to label it broadly, Hatchet Supply is urban outdoor style and culture.

Could you talk about what buying means in terms of a retailer’s identity?

I think any solid retailer has a sense of identity - what they are about... who they want to attract... how they are curating, etc. In that sense, buying or a buyer’s position would be to help expand on that identity and tell that story a bit more vividly. You’re constantly making these decisions about what would make sense - would something feel off, forced, random? Every piece in our shop was a choice made by a buyer to connect that product or brand with our customers. Nothing is arbitrary - at least when it comes to how I have approached buying. I am trying to see the whole picture, imagining how a customer might wear a shell jacket on a hike up Wittenberg but also wear this same shell hanging out with friends downtown, riding the subway up to Central Park, or shopping for groceries somewhere in the neighborhood. I’m imagining how this jacket could be paired with other great pieces in our shop and how our shop staff are going to feel about it when it arrives the following season. Will it reinforce what we have going as a retailer? Will it push the needle in one direction a little? Will it alienate any customers? Will it open the door to new perspectives on style and the outdoors? I know that’s a lot to think about but it really is what is going through my head as I work it out.

How do you understand the ephemeral nature of trends vs. the potentially illusory concept of timeless style?

I think it’s fairly easy to set apart trends from timeless style but honestly, I don’t really think it matters too much anymore. We are living in a time where anything goes and that makes everything so fun. Even if I might not dress a certain way, I can appreciate how different people put together different looks, drawing from all sorts of inspiration. I like how everything is so chaotic and unorganized now - it feels democratic and loose. People should dress how they want regardless of trends and timeless style - that confidence is what I think makes 99.9% of a look.

Without divulging all of your secrets, what are three sources (substacks, social accounts, zines, etc.) that you think more people should know about?

Without going into too much detail, Tokyo is almost the number 1 source of anything and everything I know. Food, music, fashion, hobbies, collectibles, whatever it is, people in Tokyo are on it with the knowledge.

Growing up in NY, honestly, skaters always know what’s what in real time. Always the ones putting me on to new cheap/delicious food spots, music, artists, little niche projects happening. It’s always moving and changing.

Tumblr is still valid. I still have the same account I opened like over 10 years ago and can spend a lot of time just looking at all the weird curated stuff all over Tumblr.

Follow Hikalu Jane on Instagram.

Photos: Henry Vuu

Interview: Storr Erickson