When Hila Klein set out to create her streetwear brand Teddy Fresh in 2017, she had two priorities: high-quality design at an affordable price point. Most would say it’s easier said than done, but for the last six years, Klein has proven otherwise. With its cheeky and vibrant aesthetic—think bright knits, cool shackets, and baby-doll dresses—Teddy Fresh has amassed a cult following that counts Billie Eilish and Post Malone as some of its biggest fans. Thanks to limited-edition collections hitting the site each month and one-of-a-kind collaborations with artists and nostalgic brands like Care Bears and Looney Tunes, it’s not uncommon for items to sell out quickly. What’s more, the brand is now available in select U.S. Urban Outfitters locations and on the retailer’s website. Klein found a gap in the marketplace and filled it with exciting, fun, and fresh designs.
The entrepreneur and creative powerhouse attributes Teddy Fresh’s success to the details. A special lining, a collectible-worthy hang tag, a free small gift with every order—these are the things that keep customers flocking to the site for more. For the November drop, Klein and her team prioritized playful, giftable moments, like a signature teddy mug and cute bear mittens, which she says have been a big success. Also on our radar are a charm-adorned denim cargo skirt and an embroidered teddy bear knit vest.
In addition to the brand’s spot-on marketing campaigns, Klein herself is a walking billboard for Teddy Fresh. Her Instagram is rife with outfit inspiration, featuring the latest pieces and bold beauty looks. Ahead, we catch up with the multi-hyphenate, who is also the co-creator of the H3 Podcast and H3h3Productions YouTube channel, to talk shop and what’s next for the streetwear label.
You and your partner have been a powerhouse in the YouTube and podcast spaces for years. Where did your interest in fashion and design come from?
I’ve always been a creative person. I tried painting and drawing, and I went to art school and did sculptures and silk-screen prints and all sorts of things like that. I never knew which avenue I was going to take, but once I landed on fashion, I think it really pulled in all the different elements that I’m interested in, and it allowed my creativity to find a happy, satisfying place. I felt fulfilled, and there’s always a challenge. Not just the design part, but figuring out problems and solving issues, even with just running a company. We had this moment when our YouTube career picked up and had an option to pursue something else, so I was excited to go for it and see what happens.
When you launched Teddy Fresh in 2017, what were you missing in the market?
First of all, I wanted something affordable, but for the price, I wanted something really creative, playful, colorful, and also at a really good quality. I used to be able to find some things at Zara or the fast-fashion brands, but the quality is so not fun. It’s cheaply made, and you know it’s not going to last. On the other hand, I would shop at vintage places, and there, you could see the attention to detail people used to put into clothing a long time ago. I wanted to bring all of those things that I was personally looking for as a shopper that I couldn’t find and fill the void.
How did the teddy bear become such a big part of the brand?
I had this idea of a guy wearing a shirt but having a little teddy bear on it. I thought it could be so cute. I was thinking of this idea of masculinity and gender-bending. What I liked was that contradiction of what is technically a cutesy thing but something you can put on anything and have those different factors working together.
What was one of the things you quickly learned about the Teddy Fresh consumer?
I learned that they are paying attention to the details. Looking at the things I admired but were way too expensive, you’ll see a really beautiful label or nice lining, a beautiful print on the lining, which is something you don’t even see, but it’s such a nice detail. I personally always had this admiration for those details and incorporated it into Teddy Fresh, but I didn’t know how much other people would necessarily pay attention to or appreciate it. I learned over time that they really do. We send with every package something for free too. Sometimes, it can change from stickers to a key chain. I’ll see Reddit posts where they collect all the stuff. They collect the hang tags because even the hang tags I wanted to be special, so they have a sticker on it that you can take off and use on something.
How has the brand evolved in the last six years?
At first, the collections were a lot more simple. It was mostly fleece and T-shirts and the bare bones of a streetwear brand with hats, beanies, and socks, but over time, we really expanded on the product offering and now include dresses, woven shirts, and outerwear pieces from heavy puffers to lightweight jackets, skirts, and all kinds of accessories. With every new product that we do, it’s a whole new thing for us to learn, finding the right manufacturer and knowing what to ask and how should the product be made. I feel like we’ve grown so much with the offering we can do now and the resources we’ve accumulated over time. In a way, we’re maturing together with our audience.
Can you tell us a little about the November collection and what’s coming up?
We really wanted to do a lot of giftable items because, as time goes on, we have learned there are months where people want to buy a lot of gifts, and sometimes, you can’t be prepared for that. This time, we were ready. We made a lot of cute stuff that are doing so well, and I’m happy to see that. We made teddy bear mittens, a hair scrunchie, a bear-shaped mug, and a cute little bonnet. All of the novelty bear pieces were really fun to do this month. Also, when we design for the winter months, I really have fun with it because it’s our opportunity to do outerwear and heavier jackets. To me, when we design those, it’s the most fun because you get to put so much into the make of it and the fabrics, and you can put so much detail into it.
What do you think will be a fast seller from the collection?
That’s a tough call. Sometimes, I think something will do well, and then it’s not the biggest seller, and then something I wasn’t expecting becomes the biggest one. It’s not always easy to predict. We have this corduroy puffer in tie-dye, and I think those will do really well. If we restock, it won’t happen until next winter, so it’s like you get it now or not at all.
What about you? What are you wearing on repeat these days?
Right now, it’s the dresses because I’m pregnant. I’ve been wearing anything that is a little more roomy, and dresses are just so easy right now. The thought of wearing pants is not exciting. There’s a dress that’s going to come out next month that I’ve already been wearing so much.
You have done some fun collaborations with Trixie Mattel, Care Bears, and Marvel. What makes for a good Teddy Fresh collab?
For me, I look for some sort of nostalgic sense about it. Some collaborations that have been presented to me may feel too contemporary or IP that is from now, and I like to do stuff that takes me back to the ’90s or something you would find in a vintage store or something that [makes me say], “Oh, I remember that! That used to be so cool.”
In an effort to speak it into the universe, what would be your next dream collab?
I would really love a shoe collab. It’s something we haven’t done yet, and I’m such a sneakerhead. I love shopping for cool sneakers, so if we could do any kind of cool shoe with Adidas, Nike, or any of the big brands that are so established, that would be so fun to tap into their archives.
You were an early YouTube creator, so vlogging and video content are a big part of your brand. Has TikTok been a source of inspiration for you?
I think it’s a good place to see what people are into, what they are wearing, and how they are styling their outfits. I do the same on Instagram, but I think TikTok gives you a different perspective. I do think there is a lot to get from people-watching—even makeup trends and using it in our photo shoots. It all connects.
We are coming to the end of 2023, so looking ahead, what are you prioritizing in 2024?
For me personally, something I want to learn how to have more fun and creativity with is our marketing. I’ve always been so focused on the product and the internal side of the company and that we build the right processes and grow in a way that is sustainable and making the best product that we can, and marketing was always an afterthought for me. Now that everything else is in a good place, I can focus on marketing. I don’t really know what it is yet, but I want to explore how else we can do marketing or projects we can [do] solely for marketing—fun, creative projects.
Shop more of the Teddy Fresh November collection here!