A chat with Henry Holland
Henry Holland is one of the most exciting designers on the London Fashion Week scene. Celebrated for his youthful aesthetic and playful prints, decorating an outlandish yet wearable wardrobe, the label continues to reach new heights ten years after its inception.
With London Fashion Week fast-approaching, we speak to Henry Holland about his meteoric rise in the industry, everyday life and what is in store for spring/summer 2018.
Originally from Manchester, Holland grew up in a household where fashion and style were always important. He explains, “As long as I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated with how you can use the way you dress to change how you feel and present yourself to the outside world.” With this in mind, Holland moved to London to study for a degree in Fashion Journalism. Soon after graduating, he began working as an editor at teen magazines, and made T-shirts as a hobby – completely unaware that this creative outlet would develop into something much bigger.
In 2006, Gareth Pugh appeared at the end of his London Fashion Week show wearing one of Holland’s tees, emblazoned with the slogan “Get yer freak on Giles Deacon”, and the hype began. Without doubt, it is these cheeky shirts that have caused the House of Holland name to sky-rocket. Their fierce tone and tongue-in-cheek humour are what makes this brand not only unique, but approachable too.
The House of Holland brand was launched in 2008 and, a year later, “H by Henry Holland” was released for Debenhams. Today, designs are sold at more than 100 outlets around the world, in addition to the company’s own website, which currently stocks a range of items – from £3.99 stick-on nails to a metallic chainmail dress costing £400. This amount of success has even surprised the front man himself, as he tells us his biggest achievement is still being here. “When I started the company I never thought it would be a long term thing, so I’m really proud that I’ve continued and managed to build it for ten whole years.”
It is important to note that this brand is highly accessible; nothing is priced over £1,000. With a core customer base in their 20s and 30s, this is a smart move. Besides affordability, the brand is known for its cool aesthetic, playful prints and clashing colourways that decorate a vibrant collection of denim, dresses, jackets and, of course, slogan tees. Holland identifies his typical customer as “bold, creative and rebellious,” which are personality traits he also exhibits. “They’re the kind of women I want to be around and spend my time with.”
His celebrity fan club attracts the likes of Miley Cyrus and Rita Ora, while the front row at his London Fashion Week shows frequently accommodates Alexa Chung, Daisy Lowe and Poppy Delevingne. Incidentally, he also says these famous attendees are all friends, and he would never pay anyone for their patronage.
Holland continues to engage with his loyal customers through an array of collaborations, which have included Levi’s, Pretty Polly, Le Specs, Umbro, Cadbury and Habitat. With so much going on, we wonder where the designer obtains his inspiration. In fact, he compares creativity to being like a sponge, “constantly absorbing different ideas and concepts, and trying to mentally reconfigure a way to translate them through designs.” Most recently, he partnered with Brita to tackle plastic waste by producing tees made from recycled plastic and salvaged cotton, with all proceeds going to the Marine Conservation Society. We have to agree, “Single use plastic is never fantastic”.
Of course, Holland’s day-to-day schedule is incredibly varied. Meetings are usually a given as he works with numerous partners worldwide. “At the moment I am busy working on the show collection and the aspects around it, such as the set, accessories, footwear, music, casting – all of those things. Every day is different, which is one of the reasons why I love what I do.”
So what can we expect for spring/summer 2018? Holland tells us it is industry etiquette to keep things quiet, but reveals he does like to reference films and fictional characters in his collections. We’ll take that as a hint!
Watch the House of Holland SS18 show live on their website at 5pm on Saturday 16th September. Follow the brand on Twitter and Instagram. Main image taken when Henry Holland was speaking on behalf of online job boards totaljobs and Milkround