Henry Holland Talks Brexit, Activism And Diversity

We sat down with the designer to discuss what has changed, and why has he finally decided to talk politics, publicly?

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House of Holland celebrated its 10th year with a reworking of founder and designer Henry Holland's 2006 slogan t-shirts (they, in themselves, being an 80s rejig).

The t-shirts started as a joke - he was working at a teen fashion magazine when he began to make them for his friends. But the in-joke grew into an in-industry nod, with muttering and rumours about mainstream design, until he gave the people what they wanted and created an entire line.

Henry Holland and Jaime Winstone
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He once told Vogue he wanted to expand even further, past clothing, and start a lifestyle brand: 'I always make the joke I want to be Tommy Hilfiger - I want to wake up in my Tommy sheets, put on my Tommy dressing gown with Tommy on the back, get in my Tommy-branded Bentley and drive to Tommy town. A full lifestyle brand is what I've always dreamed of growing.'

Since the first round of those tongue-in-cheek tees, his dream has become a fairly solid reality - Henry has collaborations with Le Specs, Debenhams, Levis , Umbro and more under his belt.

Limited styles online TODAY! @houseofholland x @umbro Live!

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The Homeware (and Creation Of HolLAND)

Now, on his second homeware collection for Habitat, all he needs is a car collab and then he can make his foray into town planning and call it a day. 'HolLAND' for a Henry themed amusement park, anyone?

Henry's homeware reflects his womenswear collections. A year ago, for his SS16 collection, and first homeware collaboration, he went for a Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Theme, part inspired by Hunter S. Thompson himself, and part inspired by the film adaptation of the book, starring Johnny Depp.

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This time round the new collection, again, reflects the womenswear, but this time, of course, of his SS17 season, taking cues from Romany gypsy culture and continuing on in the maximalism trend with gingham and lace.

House of Holland SS17

Patchworked prints and fabrics make the collection (complete with pink, plush chair) high impact and, most importantly, dog friendly. 'It's so bright and colourful that you'll never see a dog hair in it,' Henry told us.

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#inspo #henryforhabitat ✌🏼@henryholland

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This is an important element for Henry, thanks in no small part to his beloved French bulldog, Peggy (who has her own Instagram, naturally).

Current mood. 😛

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House of Holland x Habitat
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His Nod To America And It's 'Recent Events'

In February of 2017, Henry sent forth his latest womenswear collection down the runway and it was a return to Americana for AW17. It was all about fringing, cowboy hats and boots akimbo.

Henry explained the references for us:

'So this collection was really a love letter to American culture, from country and western, to hip hop, to all of those things. I went on a big road trip to America last year, so it was a show of solidarity I suppose, with all the things going on over there.'

House of Holland AW17

Although Henry has been reluctant to be openly political, for fear of 'sounding stupid' (which, he doesn't, by the way), as an artist, he can't help but respond to, what we called in our interview 'recent events.'

He told us, 'You can't ignore what's going on in the world at the moment and it's quite scary.'

Having said that, Henry was adamant he wanted his political expressions to be implicit, and humorous. Would he put politics in his slogans I wondered?

'The political t-shirt thing has been done, and been done really well by other people, so that's something we consciously shy away from.'

Fair enough.

House of Holland AW17
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Courting controversy isn't Henry's thing, when we asked who he would like to dress and who he would rather not (with recent designer boycotts in mind), he gave us a typically diplomatic answer.

'I think we always try and dress people that feel like they work with our brand and with our ethos. So we would always focus on dressing people that we feel are right for us. But yeah, I've always wanted to dress the Queen, I can't think of anyone better. Also, it's really difficult to say a celebrity, because then every other celebrity is like, "Well, he doesn't want to dress me!". It's quite a difficult question to answer, without pissing certain people off. The Queen is my diplomatic [answer], and very true, actually.'

I went on a big road trip to America last year, so it was my love letter to American culture as a show of solidarity I suppose, with all the things going on over there.

He cares about who wears his clothes, and his choices of model for his shows reflects that passion. His casting factors in personality, with the express command that strictly no 'moody bitches' need apply and, of course, as full a representation of ethnicities as possible.

House of Holland AW17

Uh-Oh, We Talked About Brexit

Henry sees his and his brand's ethos as being international, and European in particular, 'My mum lives in France, half of my work force are from Europe, we do a lot of trade in Europe, so it affects me from a business point of view, but also on a personal level as well.'

Yep, we talked about Brexit - we couldn't not. As we've said, Henry has a knack for side-stepping overly political questions: 'Somebody did ask me backstage at a show, what would Trump's America think of that show and I just said, I am not answering that question! Thankyou!', he explains, but Brexit is different.

😒

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'I was a very strong supporter of the Remain campaign, and I was very saddened. For me, more than just that I'm saddened, I find it quite upsetting that my country would rather turn its back on something instead of try to get along with something together. I think it's the sentiment of it.'

Thanks @christopher_shannon for the idea!

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Henry chose to move to London, from Manchester, because of the capital's multiculturalism, to him it is, 'the most inspiring city in the world, for sure.'

He often says he dresses for the London girl but, in reality, the London girl comes in all shapes and sizes.

You can't ignore what's going on in the world at the moment and it's quite scary.

'London is so unique because it's such an eclectic melting pot of cultures and ideas and people, there is an atmosphere here that is like nowhere else in the world. The street level culture that we have in this city is second-to-none. And so when I say I design for the London girl aesthetic in mind, it's more about that eclectic individuality, I think.'

Ultimately, he is hopeful, despite his disappointment in aforementioned 'recent events', fashion is here to react, and reacting it is.

'There's a real undercurrent of activism,...which I think is showing through fashion and art, and culture, as it always does. These cultural changes always reflect in lots of different art forms, and I think that's a great thing. As I say, I would never have wanted to answer a question about politics, for fear of sounding stupid. But I think learning more about it, reading more about it and being more aware of what's going on, is what's happening with the younger generation. And the sad thing is it tends to be the older generations making the decisions for us. But I think that's a great thing [in the end], definitely a positive.'

I'm saddened, I find it quite upsetting that my country would rather turn it's back on something rather than try to get along with something together. I think it's the sentiment of it.

Looking on the bright side seems to be habitual for Holland, or, perhaps more accurately, looking on the gingham and floral patchwork side of things, seems to be habitual for Holland.

And, despite his brand's frivolity, there has always been an enduring sincerity to all things Henry, all the way from his long-time friends to his cowgirl fringing.

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