Crystal Birch is a fan of challenging the status quo. Today, the young designer is one of Cape Town’s most prominent milliners, whose irreverent designs have made their way into countless editions of Vogue, and the consciousness of the fashion’s global elite. Birch studied fashion design at Elizabeth Galloway Academy of Fashion in Stellenbosch, but began her millinery training in London, where she interned under the guidance of Noel Stewart and Piers Atkinson—two esteemed British hatmakers.
From selling at a stand at Cape Town’s Old Biscuit Mill market, to taking over the almost century-old South African based manufacturing company Parisian Milliners (today known as The Hat Factory), the young milliner creates hats that have a life of their own. Each style is unique, personal, and holds its own character. The designer has showcased numerous times at Lagos Fashion Week, collaborating with British Vogue in 2019 for a pop-up in London.
Birch’s mission is to bring hats back to a younger generation and make them more accessible. Known for both drawing from and bucking tradition, Birch’s colorful, enthusiastic aesthetic is clear in each design. There’s also a fresh sense of humor about her hats (one collection, Quack Attack, was inspired by, of all things, an occasion that saw her attacked by flying ducks), a charm that emerges in everything from her classic visors and straw boaters, to the rainbow hued sunhats and felt newsboys that pepper her eccentric collections.
- Visi Magazine, Top 100 Designers in South Africa, 2019
- Design Indaba Emerging Creatives, 2016