The past year has been a monumental one, taking meaningful strides for gender equality and celebrating womankind's strength and determination throughout history. We saw the first statue of a female figure, Millicent Fawcett, unveiled in Parliament Square to mark the centenary of women's suffrage in Britain; we've watched the #MeToo movement gain colossal momentum since the first seeds were sown late in 2017; and the message of empowered women, empowering women has never felt more potent.

This mantra has long been engrained into the Gabriela Hearst DNA – a brand that exists to support the professional and powerful modern woman, by designing her garments that mean business. For our first #ThrowbackThursday series – in which we plunder the Because Magazine archives to unearth the forgotten gems – we're shining the spotlight on Tamsin Blanchard's interview with the designer, taken from 2016...

Gabriela Hearst makes clothes for women with busy, high-powered lives who need clothes that they will be taken seriously in – that will work as hard as they do for day and night. She should know... 

As well as overseeing the cattle ranch in Uruguay she inherited from her father and raising a young family in New York, she launched her own fashion label for Autumn/Winter 2015. Comprised of ultra luxurious separates, tailoring and eveningwear, her collections have picked up a loyal following, not least by women who appreciate a suit made from the best quality wool that can be shrugged on after a trans-Atlantic flight and still look immaculate.

Hearst has a strong commitment to ethical production and has partnered with Manos de Uruguay, a non-profit craftswomen’s co-operative in Uruguay for her hand-knitted shawls and delicious jumpers. She has also created a small but perfectly thought out collection of shoes for Tod’s with profits going to Save the Children. She believes giving back is part of her responsibility as a luxury brand.

Because Magazine caught up with her on a flying visit to London where — in true Gabriela Hearst style — she comforted a tired, hungry baby while explaining the origins of her cult Nina bag without missing a beat. 

Is there a typical week in the life of Gabriela Hearst?
Yeah, there is. When the girls are in school, I wake up at 7am and am out of the house by 7.30am. I take them to school, which is in the Upper East Side. I live in the Upper West Side. And then I'll be in the office by 9pm and I feel like I've already travelled half of Manhattan. I try to get off work to get to dinner at the house, so I'll be back by 6pm on good days.

How many hours of sleep do you need?
I usually need seven hours of sleep but tonight we're on two hours.

How often do you travel?
I travel quite a bit. Also, I have a working ranch that I own in Uruguay so I go there a couple of times a year.

Right, because you juggle running a fashion brand with managing a ranch?
Yes. I inherited the ranch from my father so it's not that I had to build it from scratch – it's that I had to make sure I didn't screw it up and maintain it. I have an amazing team and a great foreman. When you have a clear path, it's very easy to follow and with Gabriela Hearst it's creating something new and hopefully, I can build something that I can pass on to my children.

What are the essentials that you always pack when you travel?
Moisturiser, toothbrush, toothpaste. Clothing-wise, good suits because if they're made out of great wools, they won't wrinkle too much so they're good for travelling. Like this one – I just took it out of the suitcase. It's good to travel with. Comfortable things but also things that I can work in.

The fabrics you use are obviously really important.
Right. Fabrics are extremely important – fabrics and yarns. I try to work with the best mills, the best tanneries so it starts from the beginning.

How did you come to be involved with Manos de Uruguay, and why is it important to work with organisations like that?
Manos de Uruguay is very impressive because it's 50 years old and they are a non-profit organisation and an all-sustainable business from the environmental point of view, in terms of economically empowering and help women so they can stay in the rural areas. And I knew one of the founders, and the product of Manos was always excellent, and they always had a retail side to it and a manufacturing side. And it just made sense for me to work with them. I just think it’s a great model that a lot of people can copy from. They've done everything from scratch themselves without any donations.

When you're a small brand like us, we know exactly where our mills are and where the clothes get made, so transparency and craftsmanship are really important. And then I think from an environmental point of view, it's extremely important. I want to make sure that our women are driven by desire but they are doing something good. You'll enjoy the product but I'm making sure that it was made with proper ethics and values.

Can you tell us a little about your collaboration with Tod’s?
The Tod's shoes also are a project about love. It's a non-profit project that I love. They have a slip-on and I designed a braille code trim that says "love" for my fall collection. So we decided to do it for Save the Children, which is an organisation that is super important – the work they do. When you can use your creativity to help and reach others it's great. Twenty percent of the profits go to Save the Children.

Your Nina bag has been a huge success but we are intrigued to know how just making one style of bag is good business sense.
It wasn't a business decision, the Nina bag. It started as a prototype of a bag to complete the look of our women. Then I started to carry the prototype and it started to get a lot of positive reaction. And I said, you know what, I'm going to do 20 of them and I'm going to gift them to women that I admire. Some of them are high profile and others are owners of the factories that I work with or the shoe person – they're women I admire and who have passion. And it kind of took off after that and we started to get requests. We have a waiting list now. It wasn't really a business decision – it just happened to make sense. I decided not to give it to retailers and we basically sell it directly to consumers. You have to e-mail and find out about us if you want the bag, and then you go on the waiting list. I also designed the Demi, which is the little Nina. And there's a backpack in the works. So basically, having one bag per season is the idea and then eventually, I'll have a collection of bags. But I'm trying to maintain them as classics, all of them, that's the goal.

The original feature was published on 23 August 2016. All of the clothes featured are recent additions and available to shop now.

In case you missed it, take a tour of Rebecca Vallance's London hot spots.