Hoyt & Bond, Inc. founded in 1997, was primarily a children’s clothing and accessories line designed by Elizabeth Beer. The line, which also included adult accessories, focused on making straight-forward, effortless clothing in high-quality fabrications and exceptional colors. Beer once described the impulse that became Hoyt & Bond as simply imagining “what I would design for my child in a perfect world.”
Both the women’s accessories and children’s line was carried at a number of retail stores including Bergdorf Goodman, Barney’s NY, Fred Segal, Beams (Japan), Auto, Bark, Lester’s, K. Bond (LA) and Caramel (London). Even as the company’s wholesale distribution grew, the designer chose fabrics that promised durability and comfort, like cotton-velvets, fine wale corduroys, cotton shirtings and a variety of hand-knit wools. Much of the woolen wear was the output of a knitting circle in upstate New York, led by knitter Judith Hobson. Instead of the reduced palette that often accompanies children’s clothing, Hoyt & Bond garments were characterized by standout colors ranging from canary yellows to deep burgundies.
The Hoyt & Bond store in Brooklyn was open from 1998 to 2002.
This site aims to provide a glimpse of Hoyt & Bond through a selection of press clips and images.
“Mothers at Work”
Martha Stewart Living
Elizabeth Beer is sitting on a bench in front of Hoyt and Bond, her children’s clothing shop on Brooklyn’s suddenly swanky Smith Street, watching the world go by with 3-month-old daughter Orla in her arms. “Love your hairdo, Lil!” Beer greets a little girl with braids coiled on either side of her head. A local mecca for the steady stream of stroller-pushing moms moseying down Smith Street, Hoyt & Bond is more than just a shop that carries clothes with character: It’s an extension of Beer’s enthusiasm for the community where she works and lives–a community that Beer refers to as a small town, despite the fact that it’s located in New York’s most populous borough.
Hoyt & Bond was born out of Beer’s desire to do something that would afford her more time at home with her first daughter: “After I had Nuala, I planned to take a little time off and then go back to work,” she says. But Beer soon found that documentary filmmaking had become too time consuming. “I’d always had this design impulse,” she says. “I never really did anything about it, but I began to imagine what i would design for my child in a perfect world.”
For Beer, this meant durable, comfortable fabrics–a soft, washable cotton velvet, for instance, and plenty of hand-knit wool. It also meant color, lots of it. Opposed to the simplified palette that often accompanies children’s clothing, Beer wanted to generate an alternative. “I’m a strong believer in letting children wear what they want”–so much so that for this fall’s collection, Beer invited Nuala, now 5, to choose the colors. According to Beer, Nuala “has a great eye. She’s very specific. Kids don’t just think in terms of red, blue, and green. Nuala is passionate about the difference between lime and avocado.
Beer’s playful takes on classic apparel brought the fledgling company a flurry of attention in 1997, when she and then-partner Carolyn Cohen presented their initial collection at the International Kids Fashion Show in New York. A bevy of retailers signed up to carry the angora ponchos, woolen pullovers, and brilliant hand-knit kerchiefs.
Today Hoyt & Bond includes both a wolesale line, sold through various retailers, and the retail shop, which opened in 1998. Beer recently added adult clothing, a response to parents who were clamoring for the kids’ designs in their own sizes. Although Beer provides the continuity and makes the final decisions, she has learned not just to delegate, but also to invest a great deal of trust in her collaborators. Staffing her company carefully, with people who understand her vision, has allowed Beer to be flexible with her time. “With the kids its really important for me to be present,” she says. “It’s not good for them to feel like you are sitting with them, but your head is in production.”
As a parent, Beer also feels a strong sense of responsibility to monitor the conditions under which her clothes get made. Knitter Judith Hobson creates most of Hoyt & Bond’s knitwear patterns and organizes the knitting circle in upstate New York that generates much of the woolen wear. Hobson comes from a tradition of knitting that dates back to her grandmother. In New York City, Hoyt & Bond has added to the ranks of the company’s knitters by advertising in foreign-language papers–in Spanish, Chinese, Russian, and Polish. “We have women from all these places, with this incredible history,” says Beer, who hopes that their skills will be passed down to younger generations.
As for her own younger generation, Beer’s fluid approach to structuring her company has enabled her to scale back on wholesale production during Orla’s first year and turn her focus to the store. For now, Beer designs in her kitchen, with Orla strapped to her middle and Nuala by her side. In Beer’s world, her children not only wear spunky, comfortable clothes, inspired by none other than themselves, but they also spend plenty of time with their mother, even as her “small-town” business thrives.
Junior January/February 2000, Issue 12
Hoyt & Bond is a hot American label who have begun to make their mark on the British childrenswear scene. Their delicious mohair knits and woolen headscarves are currently flying out of uber-cool London childrenswear boutique Caramel (Tel: 020 7589 7001). If you like what you see, their dedicated shop in Brooklyn is also worth a look if you happen to be in New York.
Travel & Leisure Hoyt & Bond (No. 24; 718/488-8283) is the place for over-the-top kids’ gear. Check out the mother-daughter angora ponchos.