During the 2013 annual Fashion Festival at the Victoria and Albert museum I had the chance to be in the audience of the talk between Henry Holland and Scarlett Kilcooley, Junior Editor at British Vogue.
Henry revealed all about the beginning of his company House of Holland, the collaborations he has done as well as his favourite and least favourite of his shows. His mum is within the crowd and looks at him as any proud parent would.
In 2006 his mum helped to “kind of” start his label. While working at Bliss magazine he created a line of slogan T-shirts, which were really popular at the time, “We came up with some really filthy things,” he recalls. He used to sell them on MySpace -he laughs while saying that as it seems so long ago- and gave them to friends to wear. It so happened that one of them was Gareth Pugh and soon after a call from American Vogue followed. “It was like I had a double life, from New York meeting with Anna Wintour to Bliss magazine writing about flip flops!”
Through Lulu Kennedy’s Fashion East he was able to do a show with his first line of T-shirts. “I realised I didn’t know how to make clothes and T-shirts needed something to complement them, so I made them longer and they became dresses”, Henry said. This is also where his first collaboration came in, with Kickers that made the shoes for the show.
House of Holland A/W 2007
For Henry, shows are what he considers to be the most exciting and at the same time petrifying experience, and the fact that he did not have anyone to tell him how to do or not to do something made it even more fascinating. What keeps him going is the ‘high’ that he gets from the shows, he said: “Sometimes you don’t even like the collection until you see it as a whole.” With four shows per year and a mental queue of ideas Henry sure is quite busy.
Favourite show? Tartan, his third show even though he admits that production wise, “it was a disaster”. He said: “The girl with the eye patch [Agyness Deyn] was a last minute thing and everyone was like ‘ahh eye patches’, but really she had an infection and you don’t wanna see what’s under the eye patch!”
Not so favourite show… Was the leather/lace themed collection, as at the time he was distracted by matters of the heart and he did not like the clothes. But he admits that a bad show is not the end of the world, it was more of a turning point for him. He was devastated by the bad reviews, which helped constructively actually as he wants to be very proud of each collection. As a matter of fact Sarah Mower on her review on Style.com said: “House of Holland is one example, however, of what they shouldn’t be anymore: a presentation with very little substance and plenty of ironically tacky clothes that are actually genuinely tacky, too (how else to describe tangerine lace?).”
Collaborations really help his brand to become known and expand it but also to offer the best to the consumer. Bringing up the Levi’s collaboration, he explains that he would not have been able to offer that great quality of jeans all by himself also because he is self-funded and has a team of only eight.
Since he started out he says that his personality and sense of self have not changed but he has become more organised and interested in the business of his company. “When you are in it, it’s hard to see changes,” he said. Scarlett had something to say on this, “It’s a different world, really!”
In the future he is hoping to have his own shop(s), “a nice progression to present everything in one space, all the collaborations etc, to curate everything,” Henry said.
His future looks pretty bright. And his catwalk shows do to. (And fluffy).
Find out more: House of Holland