House of Holland first hit the spotlight with its tongue-in-cheek slogan T-shirts. The man behind it tells Laura Weir about his journey so far.
What was the idea behind your London Fashion Week collection?
I wanted to have fun with the fact that House of Holland is a young fashion brand that has come from nowhere very quickly. So I used really old iconography such as a coat of arms and a family tartan and attached it to House of Holland to give it a pseudo heritage, with our tongues firmly in our cheeks.
What is the inspiration behind your designs?
My inspiration comes from all sorts of random places. I’m inspired by what I see people wearing on the street, whether it’s an 80-year-old granny or a 15-year-old girl. I find old fashion shoots really inspiring. It’s not just the clothes I see there, but a shoot that creates an entire atmosphere and feeling, just the way a collection should do.
Who do you believe sets the trends in the UK?
There isn’t one particular clique of trend-setting people on the street. It’s obvious, but ultimately the catwalk sets the trends and then it filters down to the high street, which in turn gets its inspiration from a mix of celebrity culture and the catwalk.
How do you to maintain your niche, underground reputation while having a commercial proposition?
House of Holland started off back to front from the way most London designers start their careers. Typically, the route is to begin with a highly conceptual showcase and then evolve your ideas into a more commercial collection. But House of Holland started at the height of commerciality with T-shirts for £30, so my challenge has been to transform the brand into a more design-led collection while keeping the fun, colour and humour.
This is your third season at LFW. How has the brand evolved since your debut at the event?
The evolutionary steps have been huge. This season we are using more luxury fabrics such as wools, silks and velvets. I hope the brand has matured, but we’ve kept prices acceptable. The T-shirts allow people to buy into the brand for less than £50 at retail.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far in your career?
The major challenge that comes with being independent is cash flow and keeping up with the demands of the industry. The big guys from high fashion to the high street set the pace and have multi-million pound companies behind them.
What, if anything, does the British fashion industry lack, and how supportive is it of designers?
The UK is quite supportive, but fashion isn’t seen as an art form here in the same way as it is on the continent. If you have a commercial edge it helps, because you can get funding using your own initiative. Most of my funding comes from partnering with brands that aren’t necessarily based in fashion, such as Mac cosmetics and Mo봠& Chandon.
Why does the UK find it hard to retain its design talent?
It’s simply because the big fashion companies are based outside the UK, so there are more opportunities in Europe and the US.
What is the long-term vision for House of Holland?
I want a ranch like Ralph Lauren, called The House of Holland. At the moment we are concentrating on building the efficiency of the brand while growing our UK account base and worldwide stockists. Ultimately I’d like to open a shop in London.