A great article from “the Press and Journal” about Wayne Hemingway and the Hemingway brand, to think this all started with a market stall.
ONE of the UK’s most inspirational and talented designers, Wayne Hemingway, commanded the attention of over 200 industry professionals and students when he addressed a full lecture hall at Robert Gordon University.
The seminar – entitled Designing the Future – delved into the journey of the Hemingway brand as he regaled the audience with tales of how he and his wife, Gerardine, set up in business selling second-hand clothes from “shoddy yards” and reclaimed Dr. Martens boots at market stalls in London, growing from one stall to 10 in a matter of months.
Wayne recalled: “Our journey began back in 1981, when one month I couldn’t pay our rent, we had to find some money or we’d get kicked out. We heard a new section of Camden Market was opening and so we decided to go there and try to sell some of our clothes. Gerardine had always made her own, and I had loads of second-hand clothes. On the Saturday we took £100 and on the Sunday we took £186. The stall had cost us only £6. Within a couple of months we were suddenly making £10,000 every weekend.”
The Hemingway brand’s first major coup came when Gerardine, who had designed and made a range of clothing to sell at Kensington Market, was approached by a buyer from U.S. department store Macy’s, requesting a bulk order to sell in their flagship New York store.
Wayne went on: “When Macy’s approached us we hadn’t travelled further than Spain and at the time we were unaware of just how huge this opportunity was, but we grasped it, fulfilling the order with our first Red or Dead collection which led to immediate success.”
He is renowned for co-founding the fashion label, which represented “affordable design” and eco-friendly ideas. The label gained global acclamation and won the British Fashion Council’s Street Style Designer of the Year award three years running before he strategically sold the label, turning his attention to the design of social housing.
1999 saw the inception of Hemingway Design, which specialises in affordable housing. Its projects include The Staiths, a multi-award winning 750-property housing project on Tyneside.
Wayne also outlined his perspective on how design can help businesses prepare for the future, based on his experience of developing new brands and companies. He emphasised not just the significance in developing products but successfully taking them to market – as demonstrated through the varied products that fall under the Hemingway brand, from clothing and textiles to interior design, vintage festivals and urban regeneration.
He said: “I believe that design can be a force for good in terms of liveability, economic health and sustainability. The whole idea of being a designer is to improve things. We are not just here to create another product.”
Wayne’s design prowess is widely recognised, having been awarded an MBE for services to design, and a doctorate in design. He is also a trustee of The Design Council and The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, and the author of numerous design books.
The lecture was the last of three masterclasses, funded by the Design Council and run by the university’s Centre for Design and Innovation (c4di). All followed the theme of Designing for the Future.
Professor Julian Malins, c4di project director, said: “The purpose was to explore some of the ways design can assist businesses with their vision and growth for the future. We managed to secure very influential guest speakers who have vast knowledge in both design and growing a business to impart not only their passion and wisdom but also their first-hand experience.”
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