THE question had to come and Henry Holland, the 30-year-old rising fashion star who started his House of Holland fashion label from his living room in Ramsbottom, North West England, was more than ready for it.
“How do you keep your hair standing, especially in this hot, humid weather?” asked one fashion journo.
Flashing a wide smile, Holland listed the essentials – mousse, spray and hair dryer. The air-conditioning is a definite help.
As for coming undone in sunny Penang, Holland hoped no one would ever see him in that state.
In an earlier interview, Holland who revealed he had started life as a magazine journalist, described his entry into the fashion arena as an accident.
The year was 2006 and Holland had steeped himself deep into the club scene. To give his followers a unifying identity, he started creating T-shirts for them.
“Like fans of football clubs, I wanted to show my support for fashion. So, I made T-shirts to align myself with my fashion idols,” he recalled.
Printed in thick letters, his first unofficial collection gave tribute to Giles Deacon, then hailed as British Fashion Designer of the year; Hedi Slimane, the creative director of Saint Laurent; Christopher Bailey, chief creative officer of Burberry and Gareth Pugh, whose outlandish club wear made the press address him as “The Mad Prince of British Fashion”.
“I had 50 pieces each from the first four designs which I gave out to my friends and they spread the word for me. The first order came in after a week and within a year, my clothes were in Japan.
“That was when I saw the opportunity and grabbed it with both hands,” said Holland, who could still recall shipping his goods to Barney’s of New York from his living room.
Holland’s business formula was simple:keep up with demand and sell only to the best stores.
His denim collaboration with Levi Strauss & Co in 2009 is an example. All in, it would take Holland only three years to cut a deal with Debenhams for H! which started selling in 2010.
Describing his speedy rise, he truthfully confessed it began as a fun hobby that had grown so big, he did not have time for a real job.
“I was lucky to be introduced to the right people early on. Three years working as a journalist had helped with connections in the fashion industry,” he said.
When he started, social media was not in yet, but there was Myspace and this was where he first sold his products. A link also connected friends to his website. – GRACE CHEN