Henry Holland has always been fascinated with fashion and how fashion has the power to change the way you feel. “It’s a therapeutic thing for me, and I have real attachments to clothes as memories growing up,” he explained. Holland believes his earliest memories are connected to particular outfits. One of Holland’s favourite ensembles showed off royal blue corduroy trousers paired with a yellow and white striped knit jumper. “It was epic and could be a piece of House of Holland for sure! So I suppose I’ve always had similar tastes,” Holland added. When he was younger, he would go shopping with his mother and sister and style them. “If my mum was in the changing rooms, I’d be out on the shop floor searching for different items she should try with what she had chosen. Like an eight-year-old stylist,” he said. Holland’s mother has always had a great eye for colour and if she ever needed some shoes to match an outfit she would need to take him with her.
As he wasn’t 100 percent sure what he wanted to do or be at 17, Holland decided to study journalism. When he moved to university in London, he quickly discovered that fashion courses existed and that there was an entire industry around this thing that he loved. “It just was not a career choice in Ramsbottom where I grew up. So after four days I tried to transfer to the fashion course and they turned me down,” he said. Holland then continued to pursue journalism but spent every spare second he had getting work experience or internships in fashion doing anything and everything. “So that once I graduated I had a degree in journalism and two years fashion industry experience. I think being on what I felt wasn’t the right course just drove me to succeed,” Holland explained. He believes there is no one formula to success, that one must do it their own way. Holland said the best advice he has been given is sort of a collection of advice he has received from people in his life. “Stay true to who and what you are in life and business”.
House of Holland has evolved and developed to a certain point where he believes it’s a constant battle not to let the commerciality of what you do influence your work too much. “It’s so important to stay true to your brand DNA and always keep that at the forefront,” he added. Since he started the label, Holland now has a lot more people working for him and works all over the globe. “It has definitely changed the way I work. When I first started out, I didn’t think I would be around for another six months let alone another six years. I think that the more you have and the more you have to achieve, the more you have to lose, so there’s always that element of trepidation. I do operate slightly less fearlessly than I did when I first started and I do try and fight that on a daily basis.”
No good at being too serious, Holland finds he is influenced by a more fun and playful approach and continues House of Holland because he simply loves it.
His favourite collaboration he has done so far has been his eyewear line first with Le Specs and then later again with his own line. “I love the category and the different styles and ways of translating what we do and our DNA,” Holland said.
Two key elements in Holland’s designs is to infuse a personality and tone to his work. The visual aesthetic varies depending on the reference points, but Holland always tries to maintain a particular tone in a collection. “A bold, playful bright and knowing humour is what I want to be in all of my garments,” said Holland. Over the years, House of Holland has expanded its reach to encompass a wider age group. A House of Holland customer is someone who has a youthful approach to life, loves fashion and isn’t afraid to express themselves through what they wear.
The biggest challenges Holland has faced so far in his career have been “boring things like money and business growth and development”. Holland said that yes the fashion industry is creative, but it’s a creative business and most people don’t realise the importance of this. “If you don’t have the cash flow and capital to build and grow then your creativity is in vain because it will never see the light of day!”
With no two days alike, this is one of the perks of Holland’s job. “I need variation and change on a daily basis, and my job has that. Without looking at my diary before I go to sleep I have no clue what I will be doing,” he added. However, there are constants such as meetings with different departments within House of Holland including; design, production development, finance and so on.
One of his favourite memories for House of Holland was his first ever London Fashion Week show. Holland took part in fashion east which is a group show where three designers show at one venue and share space backstage. “It wasn’t until all of the girls were dressed and ready to go from all three designers that I realised that it was a winter season! That’s how clueless I was. One of the other designer's models were wearing balaclavas and huge knits and my girls were wearing t-shirts in neon colours that just covered their bums!”
The first garment Holland designed were the original four t-shirts that kicked off the brand, but the first thing Holland ever made was a denim vest that he wore to boombox one night. Another time, Holland received the first piece of fabric from his first show and was so excited that he made a top from it to wear that night. “It was uneven and terribly cut, but I didn’t give a sh*t,” he added.
Holland said that a formal education is great and very important to some people, but no real formula works for everyone. “Obviously a full training in a certain field is probably a better approach for some, but for me, something so vocational is such a learning curve once you are in the industry whether you have studied or not,” he explained. “Your training doesn’t stop once you leave education no matter how much or how long you train.”
For those seeking a career in the fashion industry, Holland advises; “don’t worry if you decide later on that you want to be something different to what you set out to be. I didn’t study fashion; I wasn’t ready to decide that’s what I was going to do when I was 17. If you do want to go into fashion, find out what it is that you want to say with your work, find your point of view and your tone of voice and just stay really true to that from day one. Because this is an industry that’s subjective, some people will love what you do, and others will hate it, but if you always stay very authentic and true to your brand and your DNA, then nobody can take that away from you.”
The next step for Holland is world domination and maybe marriage.