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Henry Holland Interview

Sophia Aiello chats to Henry Holland about his global brand that started out as a joke

Written by . Published on November 23rd 2011.


Henry Holland Interview

HENRY Holland has come a long way since being roommates with Agyness Deyn. He is now internationally known as a fashion designer and has created and crafted his brand. Today, he’s up north in Manchester for a DJ set in Selfridges at the Trafford Centre. It’s for the launch of the new menswear department which includes a controversial Primark concession.

"I started the T-shirts as a joke and it just snowballed."

“I don’t know what the big hoo-har is about with having Primark” said Holland. “It’s a massive store so I think Selfridges is big enough to cater to all different markets.”

Holland knows firsthand, the power of tapping in to the high street. His H! By Henry Holland range at Debenhams, is a diffusion line he believes “keeps the brand relevant and involved, not just in the high fashion scene but in the world of fashion” similarly to that of the latest Versace/H&M range.

“I think the Versace collaboration is a really good example. I love it, it’s really archetypal pieces yet it’s identifiable as Versace. It’s almost like Versace as a caricature for H&M. Donatella has recreated the brand for a more accessible audience and has made the collection relevant. Seeing how many people wear my H! range at Debenhams, seeing people enjoying what I do, is so important. It keeps you involved.

”It’s all been very plain sailing it would seem. Holland just so happened to be friends with a soon-to-be super duper model and in the blink of an eye everyone was wearing his bold t-shirt designs. You could say he’s got a lot to thank a certain Agy for.

England International Rugby Player Mark Cueto And England Cricketer Jimmy Anderson With Henry HollandEngland International Rugby Player Mark Cueto and England Cricketer Jimmy Anderson with Henry Holland

Mark Cueto And Jimmy Anderson With Henry Holland At SelfridgesMark Cueto And Jimmy Anderson With Henry Holland At Selfridges“When I first designed my t-shirts Agyness was still starting out as a model. I lived with her, so if I needed a model for my T-shirts she would always be there to do it. It just so happened at the same time that she became a big deal.

”Evidently, Agy’s big deal led to Holland’s design triumph, particularly with daring dressers such as Nicola Roberts from Girls Aloud who quickly latched on to the label and became Holland’s so-called muse. But who will we be seeing wearing Holland’s designs when the stardust has settled?

“Well our archetypical Henry Holland girl would be Agyness Deyn because we’re so involved in each other’s lives. We grew up together, we lived together for years.“But it’s the same with the other girls in my office. We have a Jess dress named after one of the girls who is also my best friend, but because she’s not in the papers she doesn’t get talked about. All the women I spend time with and all the women I work with are all inspirational to what I do; it’s just that Agyness is the most high profile.”

No Nicola then? “I think Nicola’s great. We’re not best friends, we’re friendly. I think what she does and what she represents, her pale skin, her individuality, is commendable. She’s cool and fun, and I’m a huge Girls Aloud fan. I always have been from day one. The word muse is used by the press more than designers. It’s so nice to have someone that you respect who also enjoys what you’re doing.”

Nicola is one of a number of celebrities who have been seen out and about in Holland’s suspender tights. Who could forget those? Yet it was a trend Holland didn’t foresee. Henry Holland Suspender Tights as seen on Rihanna.

“I’m always surprised. The hardest thing to do is follow a hit. You never know what will work. Like with the slogan T-shirts, we never predicted how big they would become. Our collections as a whole are building momentum and people are now realising that we also make dresses and jeans. But yeah the suspender tights took everyone by surprise.

”The biggest surprise of them all though, has to be the brand as a whole. It’s a little known fact that Holland never intended to become the talk of the town with his orginal catchphrase emblazoned tees including the tongue-in-cheek ‘I’ll show you who’s boss, Kate Moss’.

“I started the T-shirts as a joke and it just snowballed. I already had orders in Tokyo, London, New York and Hong Kong before I even had one member of staff or an office. It was nice because I didn’t feel held back by fears or anxieties. I always say that was a blessing.

“A blessing? I sound like Justin Bieber now. Whatever. I’m not religious.” Apparently God isn’t a DJ. Now there’s a new T-shirt catchphrase. And with that, Holland takes to the decks.

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