30 wonderful years of Red or Dead
This was a celebration of everything it has done over the years from the stall in Camden, to the catwalks in Fashion Week. Stepping back in time was an educational and enjoyable experience, so step with us as we take you through the years.
It all started on a stall in famous Camden Town, where Wayne and Geraldine Hemingway from Lancashire chased their dreams down to London to start a fashion label. With hope in their hearts, dreams in their heads and a hunger for success, the working-class northerners rented a £6 per day stall and were an instant success overnight, taking in £80 on the first day. With their love for music, Geraldine’s gift for making clothes and Wayne’s unique twist on vintage styles, the engaged couple were a sure success, and quickly expanded to have 16 stalls.
In the early 80s, it was the Hemingways who changed the fashionable stiletto to the chunky Dr Martens, being the first to sell the work boot as a fashion shoe, which even famously got the interests of Jean Paul Gaultier and Demi Moore to the Camden stalls. They took the skin-head look away and put them on gorgeous, slim women everywhere. Even today, there are Doc Martins in so many people’s shoe closet. It has been a constant must-have fashion item over the decades; Red or Dead really did stamp themselves on the fashion map permanently with this quirky idea.
With such success, they soon opened a shop in Soho in 1986, then expanded a year later and moved to Covent Garden. By 1994, Red or Dead had 13 stores across Europe and the Far East, with more stockists worldwide.
That was just the beginning. By 1990, they hit the catwalk with their Space Baby collection, earning international attention, which they seem to grab every year. In 1991, we saw English brand’s prints like Oxo cube and assorted biscuits (made into a bra!), 1993 brought out the “Eat Less Protein” printed tees, 1994 brought the collaboration with prisoners to bring out prisoner print and 1995-96 brought the New York Dolls to the catwalk and controversially had the models acting like disturbed housewives while styled with knives, knitting needles, scissors and blood.
These are just a few of the more famous points in Red or Dead’s time. With every year, Red or Dead bring out something amazingly controversial, and send waves through the fashion world, still doing what they did in 1980, which was individualising clothing, taking inspiration from politics, the streets and the real life.
Over the 30 years, they have collaborated with Marks & Spencer, Specsavers, Bank, Sea Spray, Schuh and even Cancer Research, to name a few. Branching out worldwide, the Hemingways did sell Red or Dead in the late 1990s to Pentland Brands PLC, who had a huge reputation for building brands. Years later, Red or Dead is still a huge brand in the fashion world, even designing bikes for Raleigh when they became popular again.
With such a colourful and influential 30 years, what will Red or Dead bring us in the next 30 years? We can’t wait for the pearl to turn into a diamond, and look back and celebrate 60 years!
Check out Red or Dead celebrating here.