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Holland: young designers need more support

Designer Henry Holland has called on the industry to do more to support young design talent and UK manufacturing.

Speaking at the Drapers Next Generation Academy, Holland - who is the founder and boss of London Fashion Week brand House of Holland - said initiatives to support a wider range of start-up labels both in and outside of the premium sector should be a priority.

“We need to encourage a wide range of design talent to ensure a diverse market,” he said. “There is great support out there from organisations like the British Fashion Council, but more should be done.”

Holland, who manufacturers the majority of his clothing in the UK, also advocated manufacturing garments on home shores to support local industry.

“It’s not necessarily the highest-end brands that grow into the biggest exports,” he added. “Support shouldn’t be elitist [and just go to designer brands] - we could get so much production back to the UK.”

Holland said House of Holland’s relatively recent explosion onto the fashion scene - it was founded with slogan T-shirts in 2006 - meant there was still potential for the business to grow.

“I think people from the outside think we are a lot bigger than we are as an organisation,” he said.

“There are only three of us full-time with an army of vital interns. I still work on every part of the business myself. It’s all hands on deck and I’m really happy with where we are as a business. I don’t think we’re growing too quickly and I’d like to continue on this trajectory and continue to grow ready-to-wear.”

Holland admitted that managing cash flow as a young business can be challenging at times, but that inking deals with third parties - including most recently in House of Holland’s case with department store Debenhams - helps support the main ready-to-wear side of his business.

He said: “[Working with Debenhams] has been a massive leap. Because of the price point it gives us access to a much wider audience and financially it helps to develop the business.”

When asked if he felt that working with a high street retailer could have compromised the House of Holland brand, he said: “Absolutely not. It’s really fun and exciting that we are making a thousand of something rather than 15 pieces.

“We are also working with [hosiery business] Pretty Polly and, again, it’s really exciting that so many people want your stuff.”

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