Afternoon Tea with Henry Holland
/ 9 December 2013

Jet lag didn’t stop the British fashion designer from giving Sub-Cult his all when we interviewed him. Just like his collection, Henry Holland is a very vibrant, fun, and full of life. Oh, and did we mention he’s super friendly? Mr. Holland himself even created his famous catchphrase especially for Sub-Cult, how cool is that.

In 2006, your remarkable rhyming t-shirt was worn by everyone. I mean, everyone wants that t-shirt. How did you come up with that brilliant idea?

I was drunk *laughs*. I was very drunk. (I was) working in magazines, as fashion editor. You know when you say some things with your friends and it just grows and grows, and eventually I just did it. Just as a hobby while I was still working, doing it as a side project, the first ones I did completely failed. The ones that you know about, they’re the second round.

Was on a night out with a few friends of mine, I was with a friend of mine Gareth Pugh (one of the designers I was designing t-shirt with) and he was taking a piss out of my failed t-shirt business and I said “Well maybe I’ll put your name up on a t-shirt, maybe that will sell.” He laughed and it played on my mind, some things with fashion designers’ name on it, it developed and I started being really rude with my friends while I was being really drunk – talking about designers that we wanted to sleep with and started making rhymes about those, it got really filthy and that became my business.


What’s your favorite line?

I can’t choose from the first four because they’re so special to me, they started my entire career; ‘Do Me Daily Christopher Bailey’, ‘UHU Gareth Pugh’, ‘Cause Me Pain Heidi Slimane’, and ‘Get Your Freak On Giles Deacon’.

Can you make a rhyme for SUB-Cult?

Hmm, ‘Do Me In The Club SUB’.

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We saw your Spring/Summer 2013 collection’s preview; it’s not as colorful and playful as your previous previous collection. Getting serious?

Definitely not, no. That was just the idea reflected on the collection; the idea started with looking at girls in Los Angeles, they were sort of Hispanic and South American looking girls. They were really tough and very masculine so we twisted that and created a super feminize version, we used a very feminine shapes – quite sophisticated shapes in some ways, but then all the embellishments and embroideries are tattooed. I worked with a tattoo artist from Venice Beach called Alex Garcia and he created all the tattoos for me, which we’ve interpreted into the prints. So the essence of it was still really playful and really fun, and we did use a lot of color, there were lots of Romeo and Juliet references from the Baz Luhrman film.

The woman that we were representing and inspired by into creating throughout the collection; she was slightly a less colorful woman. I think every collection needs to be different, needs to have different elements represented of the brand. We are growing and evolving as a brand, as we are a team and designers and a team of people that worked on the collection, it does evolve as it goes, but I think this particular woman maybe called for a slightly more paired down palette. But the next one’s very playful, I can tell you that, yeah.

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You’re in love with stripes and dots. What’s the story?

Oh yeah, I love graphic prints, I love a very strong visually arresting prints. I love checks just as much. .I don’t know if it’s me being a boy but I just really like graphic prints. It’s like when you inject color to them, (making them) really excited to work with. You know, at this point in the game I suppose, we’re identified to a certain type of print and so you kinda’ have to keep the DNA of the brand, the ethos, along the similar tracks.

Whilst every single season our collection did grow a lot, with color palette and references, and with the women that we create, the thread that went through is always the personality that (I hope anyway) we inject into the clothes. I wanna create clothes that make people smile and make people happy to wear them. Some days I wear head-to-toe black because I’m not in the mood to mess around, which is great, everybody needs those clothes. But I also think everybody needs those clothes that when they’re out there and everybody looks at you, they’re quite obnoxious clothes in a way because they’re worn to be seen and they make you smile, and feel a certain way when you wear them; playful and energetic. That’s the kind of clothes that I want to create.

I don’t think everyone needs to wear colors every single day of their lives, because I don’t. Sometimes I change my clothes three times a day just because my mood changes. Clothes very much affect my mood, and color is a very great way of representing.

What’s your actual favorite color?

Purple. Like your eyes *laughs*. Yeah, I don’t know why, it’s one of my favorite colors to work with; it’s in my collections every time some way or another. It’s just a great color and it mixes well with other colors; purple and orange, purple and green, purple and pink, it goes with everything!

About Mr. Quiffy, what’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

Ooh, Cookies and Cream. When I was about 12 years old I went to Los Angeles for the first time with my parents, we went to a diner on Santa Monica Pier and I had cookies and cream milkshake for the first time ever and I fell in love with the flavor. I also like really boring flavor, like chocolate and vanilla mixed together, and as it starts to melt in a bowl you mixed it like soup – I love that.

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Of all the amazing shows you’ve done, which one is the most memorable and most fun to do

Other than the first, because you could never escape the memory of your first show; the fear and excitement, I think my most memorable show has to be my Tartan collection for Autumn/Winter 2008. It was a certain point in my career where everything was so exciting and still so new and fresh, and I have no idea what I was doing. It was just a great moment that I wish I could bottle, the collection itself really cemented in people’s mind of what I was trying to do. It had a British heritage theme to it that I’m very passionate about communicating through my clothes. We’re a very British brand.

I love that show, it was tiny and (the show) was running so late, and Hillary Alexander (a big journalist in the UK) started chanting my name and I could hear them backstage and I was so scared.

Name the songs that you’ve been playing the most

Whenever I travel there’s a gym at the hotel and there’s this really sad fact that Justin Timberlake’s ‘Mirror’ is 8 minutes long, that’s how long I do my stomach exercises for, so I play that a lot. I’ve been playing a lot of Kanye’s ‘Black Skinhead’, Miley Cyrus’s new album, Iggy Azalea I listen to a lot of her, I love her she’s amazing. I like female hip hop stars actually.

What’s the one thing that really inspires you?

If I had to say one thing I would say film. It’s always different and every collection is inspired by a different reference, but the one that I reference the most is film. I love the way that costume is used in terms of characterization, that’s my favorite thing about fashion, it tells you things about who a person is. When you’re watching a film you know about a character because of the situations or the line that they say, but just as much as their costumes and what they wear. Clueless is one of my favorite films.

What’s the most random thing that happened to you in the last 6 months?

I was on a train in France on the way to visit my mom and this crazy man got on the train, and he thought I was the Prime Minister of France. Somehow he must’ve recognized me, whether it was pure coincidence but he said “You’re Holland right?” in French it sounded like François Hollande. I told him who I was but he would just not give it a rest and his parting line was, “Do you know who my name is? I’m Jesus Christ.” My friend who was beside me just kept quiet the entire time.

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Describe yourself in four words

Playful, loyal, gentle, and silly.

If you could shadow any designer for a day who would it be?

Donatella Versace, I think she’d be really fun. I did meet her before but I’d love to see what her actual life is like, I bet it’s fascinating.

What’s your favorite way to spend a lazy Sunday?

In front of the TV with my boyfriend, doing absolutely nothing.

What’s the best advice that you could give to any aspiring designer

Stay very true to what it is that you want to say through your work. Designers can get very hurt by criticism and by reviews, and I think that if you want to say something through your work you should stick to that vision, then nobody can criticize that cause that’s what you’re saying.

What you make isn’t going to be for everyone and it isn’t going to be right for everyone, so if you just stick to your belief then you have every right to stand up with your head held high.

Interview by Vita Aviandhono

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