Painstakingly handcrafted out of natural materials like rabbit or beaver fur and treated with fire and water, Horisaki Design & Handel hats are as much art objects as they are fashion statements. With fans that range from singer Lady Gaga to actor Don Johnson, the pieces can take weeks to make. The label draws from both Japanese and Scandinavian influences—Makoto came to Sweden from Japan when he was 13 years old, while Karin grew up on a nearby farm.
We recently had the honor of visiting the couple’s workshop in Småland, a southern province rich in design history and craftsmanship. Makoto and Karin invited us into their charming studio, a modest, pitched-roof building whose peeling paint echoes the distressing of the hats themselves.
The couple met in Stockholm in 2010. Makoto was then a jewelry designer, and Karin was making hats for Sweden’s royal family after finishing her training in Gothenburg. They began to collaborate, gaining a following after bringing eight hats to Paris Fashion Week in 2012. As they received more orders, and consequently needed more space, Makoto floated the idea of moving the company to rural Småland, where costs are much lower.
Makoto and Karin have worked out a system—she designs most of the shapes, while he creates the finish; she works upstairs, while he toils downstairs. While Horisaki’s hats are decidedly unique in their texture and form, they’re also made to stretch and shapeshift due to daily use, each piece becoming as individual as the wearer.