We meet Henry Holland, the man behind high-end/high-street hybrid fashion label House of Holland, as he heads to the city to present Bristol Fashion Week
After graduating from the London College of Printing with a BA in journalism, and carving out a career as a fashion editor, Henry Holland unexpectedly burst onto the style scene in a whole new way when his ‘fashion groupie’ t-shirts – made just for fun and featuring slogans like ‘I’ll tell you who’s boss, Kate Moss’ – began to catch on. Eight years on from the subsequent birth of his brand House of Holland, which has built up a reputation for its cool, confident and savvy aesthetic, Henry is now firmly established in the style arena and a favourite of famous faces including Alexa Chung, Daisy Lowe, Nicola Roberts and Agyness Deyn. He’s even branched out into presenting the likes of Channel 4’s Frock Me, and judging on Sky Living’s Styled To Rock, and this month he’s heading to Bristol to join stylist Mark Heyes at The Mall…
TBM: So Henry, what trends shall we look out for this AW16?
HH: The streetwear/urban trend is showing no signs of going away. There will also be lots of embroidery and embellishment thanks to the rise and rise of the new Gucci maximalist aesthetic. Colour-wise, I’ve seen a lot more berry tones around. Deep reds, purples, blush pinks.
How can we wear them?
You can really dress up streetwear by adding metallics. A bomber and jeans outfit, for example, can look really great with a metallic flat shoe. Loafers are pretty big right now. We’ll be dishing out loads of tips at Bristol Fashion Week and I think seeing everything on the catwalk really helps – you need to get that visual.
“I love working with strong women who have great personalities and a strong sense of themselves.”
What are you most looking forward to about coming to Bristol?
I can’t wait to spend a few days discovering all the best little spots. Mark has been doing Bristol Fashion Week a long time and knows the city really well, so maybe he’ll show me a few places!
Where do you shop and what are your favourite looks for the season?
I’m wearing a lot more sportswear and casual pieces at the moment. It feels like the sports luxe trend has just evolved to be more of a way of dressing for men everywhere. Of course I wear a lot of my own stuff and there are other designers that I like, but I do shop on the high street and have worn stuff from Topman, American Apparel and Dr Martens.
Who would you most like to dress?
I love working with strong women who have great personalities and a strong sense of themselves. I make clothes to be worn and I always get a thrill out of seeing someone wearing something I have designed – whether it’s on the red carpet or at the bus stop!
Which trends do you hate?
Wet-look leggings – a weird mix of dominatrix and practicality…
“Our brand works well because it’s bright, colourful, unique, ‘out there’ – and obnoxious. It jumps off the page.”
Did you always know you wanted to be in fashion?
When I was 18 I went to university in London and studied fashion journalism. From there I moved into teen magazines working as a fashion editor and while there I started making t-shirts as a side project. I had absolutely no idea it would become so big; it was a creative outlet, something that I found really fun. It escalated really quickly so I didn’t have a chance to think about things too much until I was asked to do a show at London Fashion Week and at that point I quit my job. I had about six weeks to produce it!
Tell us more about House of Holland and its ethos…
It’s very key for me that everything we do retains a sense of Britishness. This industry, and especially design, is about putting a piece of yourself into your work and, for me that is very much that British sense of humour, that tongue-in-cheek nod and a wink. It’s what makes us unique. Our brand works well because it’s bright, colourful, unique, ‘out there’ – and obnoxious. It jumps off the page. My thoughts and dreams have always been about building a lifestyle brand. I always make the joke that I want to be like Tommy Hilfiger – I want to wake up in my Tommy sheets, put on my Tommy dressing gown with Tommy on the back, get in my Tommy-branded Bentley and drive to Tommy Town. A full lifestyle brand is what I’ve always dreamed of growing. I have always been uncomfortable with the term ‘designer’ to describe myself, just because I didn’t train as one. So from day one I’ve always viewed what I do as a brand and I think that’s what set us apart. I really think that’s why we’ve been able to build a licensing opportunity alongside our ready-to-wear business and we’ve been able to translate this across a lot of product categories.
What did you learn from being a fashion editor that helped when it came to designing your own stuff?
After showing my first collection of t-shirts, I came out wearing a tee saying ‘One Trick Pony’ as I wanted to say what I thought the critics could be saying before they had a chance. From there, we completely changed. My next show was about denim and dresses and sunglasses and handbags. The whole package. I recruited a lot of people around me to help me realise my vision, which is exactly how everyone in the industry works today, I just missed out the stage of being a struggling designer on a sewing machine.
What impact do you think social media is having on fashion?
It’s definitely changed the way people do things. We’re trying to build something that is very inclusive. We want to welcome people into our world. We’re quite transparent in many ways, through things like social media. We talk about what we had for lunch as well as what product is coming out. So many brands use it as direct marketing and it doesn’t work. Customers feel like they know us. The last three biggest news events I found out from Twitter. That’s how the world shares information now, whether or not you’re in fashion. But it makes fashion have much more of a conversation. Everyone can express their opinions now. It’s a good thing. You’ll never take away the prestige of certain publications, but you even get a sliding scale of blogs now.
What inspires you at the moment?
London girls – I love the way they dress and mix things up – elements of goth, happy-grunge and rock. Brits aren’t fixated on one style, they throw things together and create something new. Also, I’m a child of the Eighties – it was the first time I acknowledged fashion and realised how it played an important role in my life. I’m inspired by fashion in films like Pretty Woman and Clueless; they’re amazingly stylised films that are so characterised, and the fashion is so blatant.
If you had to take three fashion items to a desert island…
Sunnies, naturally. Shorts. And I would definitely need some hair products to keep the quiff in place!
What is fashion to you?
Fashion is approached by different people in different ways. Sometimes it’s about dressing to conform, sometimes it about dressing to stand out, sometimes it about dressing to keep warm. It should be something that is embraced, fun and enjoyed.
Henry Holland will be presenting alongside Mark Heyes from 28 September – 2 October at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway