“I still believe in this, but I think it was the quarantine that really made me think, ‘Fuck it, this is the moment,'” she adds.
Batsheva is but one of the latest brands to enter this market of easy, comfortable dresses designed with practicality, prioritizing features like breathable fabrics and pockets. You can find one in pretty much every color, every silhouette, every price point. And they can be a big money-driver.
“Our biggest sales day ever was in December 2019, on the launch of the holiday plaid nap dresses. We launched our summer nap dresses [on July 1] and that replaced December as our biggest sales day ever by six times,” Diamond explains, noting that it’s also a frequent first purchase for the Hill House Home customer.
Though Hill House Home is primarily, as the name suggests, a home company, apparel was on the mind from the beginning: “I really had them in my mind when we launched the company but I wanted to take time developing them,” Diamond says. “It was really this idea that I wanted something that I could wear at home that was super comfortable but that was also really beautiful.”
And customers’ fervor for the dresses has been there consistently. When it dropped its first collection of Nap Dresses two years ago, Hill House Home sold through six months of supply in a day — a trend it sees continue “even when we’re increasing our orders by 10x,” per Diamond. “We can’t keep up with the pace at all.”
Like with Batsheva’s line of house dresses, Hill House Home’s Nap Dresses were born out of the founder’s own love of them. “I feel like I’ve been somebody who’s been waiting their whole life to be cool and suddenly, everybody agrees with me. This is who I am. I am a house dress person,” Diamond says, adding that she’s always had one or two she’d wear exclusively at home.
“As someone who has always gotten so much joy from fashion and clothing and dresses, I’ve always wanted [house dresses] to be comfortable,” she explains. “There’s this line from ‘Clueless’ that I always think about, where Cher is talking about how she doesn’t feel well and wonders, ‘Maybe it’s because my party clothes are so binding.’ Definitely I’m excited that people are in on this thing that we can have great, pretty things that are also comfortable and practical.”
Hay acknowledges that house dresses might not be for everyone: “I definitely get comments that are like, ‘This is so frumpy and horrible.’ But that doesn’t dissuade me because when I started making prairie dresses, that was also the response,” Hay says. “There are always going to be people that don’t like it, that just respond to the frumpiness of it. Then there are some who are like, ‘Yes, this is what I’ve been waiting for.’ That’s what I always want to get: I don’t want to do what other people are doing — I want to push the envelope.”
“It’s really weird that something so old and basic and functional and frumpy is pushing the envelope,” she adds. “But that’s the world we live in.”
by ANA COLÓN