For Heidi Merrick, the outdoors is important, yet fashion is also central to her world. Her expertise is in blending the two.
When Merrick talks about her daily schedule, it often includes many moments spent outdoors, yet she also embraces smart dressing.
“I am an outdoor woman who loves to dress. I surf. I fly fish. I have an apple farm. I am not comfortable inside. I relate to being outside. That’s where my soul calls,” said Merrick, who lives in Carpinteria, Calif. “I might not go into my studio or have an appointment, but every day I am going to be outside with my dog, check to make sure there is no surf or go by my farm, and I still dress beautifully.”
The designer focused on a smaller drop when developing her Autumn/Winter 2023 collection for the Heidi Merrick brand, which is made in Los Angeles, and available at heidimerrick.com and at the brand’s Summerland, Calif., flagship.
“Pieces that transition in your wardrobe from a statement piece in the beginning but are basic enough to continue as classics” is the way Merrick explains it. “The basis for my drops is to help women build their wardrobes as the seasons go. A dress you buy in August I want you to wear as a winter white later.”
The vision for Autumn/Winter 2023 was inspired by a forest setting, which the designer referenced as “earthy,” with teatime in a cottage atmosphere. Many of the pieces are oversized yet tailored with the detailed expertise for which Merrick’s brand is known.
“An oversized sleeve is very cool, but women want to feel sexy especially on top,” said Merrick. “The big sleeve is something that is coming back. It’s sort of boyish. It’s you in your extra, extra-large T-shirt. A big T-shirt sleeve is the inspiration, but I wanted it to be dressed. I wanted it to have air. I wanted it to feel tailored. A laser-cut detail solves that for me.”
Denim also appears in the collection with the wide-leg Perrine pant, named for and made to fit one of Merrick’s in-house designers. The Ian denim jacket is a unisex style that Merrick developed on one of her employees—for whom the jacket was named—to achieve the rugged appeal of the rancher aesthetic.
“We were trying to get unisex looks that were good enough to be in my collection and would work for a man and a woman working on a ranch,” explained Merrick.
When designing the Perrine pant, Merrick carefully planned the denim, knowing that she wanted to incorporate elements of 1940s oversized styles.
“I was thinking about how to get women to wear denim that doesn’t feel childish or soccer mommy,” said Merrick, “something that feels elegant that would be worn while walking in the country.”
New for Merrick this season is the Wallace oversized blazer in a hand-marled wool from India in deep brown and camel. The Marais coat was designed using the same textile and follows the oversized trend. A Heidi Merrick staple, the Hemingway pant, returns this season in the hand-marled wool fabrication and oversized silhouette with Merrick fortifying the construction.
“I always try to work toward being a woman who feels confident but also not ridiculous,” Merrick explained. “It’s realizing that where I am is special, and if my clothes fit that situation it’s bringing something to the world. The song of the individualist. Remembering who you are and where you are is enough.”