George Heaton and his brother, Michael, Heaton turned a hobby into a global fashion brand
Premium fashion brand Represent started out as “more of a hobby” but has developed a loyal celebrity following in the seven years since its inception, including singers Post Malone and Dua Lipa. Founded in 2012 by graphic design graduates and brothers George and Michael Heaton, Represent was born during George’s last year at the University of Salford, when a project required him to create something that would sell.
The pair agreed to print graphic T-shirts, which they went on to sell to friends and then through a “basic” website. That website now receives more than 2 million visits a year.
Represent’s offer includes men’s and women’s knitwear, T-shirts, trousers and denim, which come in classic silhouettes with heavy use of graphic prints, logos and different materials, from distressed denim to velour, to flannel. Wholesale prices range from £50 for a T-shirt to £400 for a shearling jacket.
Products are available via the Represent website and through the brand’s 150 global stockists worldwide, which include Selfridges and Harvey Nichols in the UK.
George tells Drapers about early starts and why travelling for work is so appealing.
What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
My alarm goes off at 6.40am and I read fashion industry news for 20 minutes.
What was your first job?
I worked as a sales assistant at Jack Wills while studying for my degree, which led to me creating Represent.
How would you describe the brand in one sentence?
Luxury British streetwear.
What’s your coffee (or tea) order?
A large Americano, black, with a shot of caramel.
Where are your favourite places to shop?
Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills is great for finding luxury inspiration, and I shop with [luxury retailer] Ssense online.
Last fashion purchase? Why did it catch your eye?
A teddy jacket from Celine’s autumn 19 collection – I only really purchase products that I absolutely love and are everlasting.
Emails or phone calls?
Most important lesson you’ve learned during your career?
Be patient, which is hard if you’re motivated and a driven person.
What would be your ideal office/meeting space?
Somewhere open plan with natural light.
What’s your favourite part of the creative process?
When everything starts falling into place and making sense. This tends to be the final week before a show, showroom or campaign deadline, as this is when our collections really come to life. Fitting samples and putting the looks together gives me a real buzz.
What has been your proudest moment since you launched the brand?
Our first catwalk show at New York Fashion Week Men’s for autumn 2017. We were a pair of kids from Manchester, who managed to produce and fill a runway show in New York entirely by ourselves – we’d never experienced anything like it.
What’s the last book you read?
The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Mötley Crüe. Michael and I are fascinated by that whole era and the style that came with it.
A family trip to the Maldives in 2015. We travel so much for work that it’s hard to find the time. That said, getting to work in different countries, with different cultures, weather and environments is more appealing to me than a typical holiday.
Who in the fashion/retail industry inspires you?
In terms of creativity, I love the aesthetics of Haider Ackermann’s silhouettes and his attention to detail. I also like Rick Owens and Hedi Slimane.
What’s the biggest challenge facing fashion today?
Oversaturation and the pace of the industry. Everything is moving so fast, and brands are constantly trying to adapt to trends that they end up losing their image. I think it’s important to stay true to your brand’s identity, especially across marketing and social media.
One piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Who do you turn to when you need advice?
It depends on what kind of advice I need. My brother, Mike, is with me the majority of the time, so we tend to discuss a lot of work-related issues.
What would we find you doing at the weekend?
The same as what I do in the week! I get up at 6.30am, go to the gym, then head to the studio until late. It’s much quieter than in the week so I get more done. It sounds boring but this is the life I live and love.
What are you looking forward to most in the year ahead?
Our autumn 19 collection is completely different from what we’ve done before and the first reactions have been incredible. We took a step back from creating for a runway show. We looked into our carefully curated personal wardrobes, leading us to develop everlasting shapes and fabrics that would then become new building blocks for our future collections. We’ve been working with new factories over the last year to improve the quality of product. We strive to improve and develop each season.