Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Fashion Rambler meets Henry Holland

Selfridges Manchester Trafford Centre hosted a bit of a do to celebrate a new concept in Menswear. Yes, Primark is now stocked within the Menswear Department. *pause for effect*

If you're bored of hearing about Primark. Scroll down for the interview with Mr Henry Holland. (pictured above)

And although Primark wasn't the only alteration to the Menswear offer in the out-of-town Shopping Mecca, it was certainly the most talked about. 

Whilst Mixologists concocted potent potions from Whiskey and Rum, whilst Henry Holland span the decks and whilst half naked underwear models (including Stuart from Big Brother) strutted around the floor with balloons - I was sussing out the Menswear offer from Primark.

You may have read my blog that recently announced the Primark/Selfridges collaboration [read it here] and the pictures of the Menswear Edit would have left the snob in you feeling decidedly uncomfortable about their stance on the matter. Why? The truth is, the clothes are relatively spot-on and the price is to die for in this pocket-money-less climate. 

The department benefits from ample floorspace (more than most concessions) but is tucked away under the grand staircase towards the very rear of the shop. Primark have provided bespoke fixtures and fittings that are a leap away from the drap faux-pine and blue plastic we've come to associate with their stand-alone stores.

What is interesting and troubling about the clothes is that they look the part within the store. They're colourful, exciting and the prices are just fantastic (note: Primark is the only concession in Selfridges to advertise item prices on bold end-of-arm boards). 

Why is this troubling? Well, the inner clothes snob in me is about to come out... when you take these clothes home they're still Primark. You lose the prestige of the store and have nothing to fall back on except a Cederwood State or Denim Co. label.

So. My answer to this snobbery is to buy well. Avoid 'basics' and go for the gimick. YES it's Primark and NO you don't care (or at least you're too poor to care). Also, some of the gimmick items, like this Xmas sweater, don't have Primark labels! (Bonus)

I got a couple of minutes with Mr Henry Holland, designer and resident DJ for the partay.

Fashion Rambler: Mr Holland, what do you think of Primark being welcomed into Selfridges Manchester Trafford Centre?

Henry Holland; I think the official line for Selfridges is quite good in that they say their customer buys everything from Primark to Prada and they think there is a real cross over between high end and low end. They don’t think people shop one and not the other. People like to mix and match their own styles. I think it’s fine. I don’t know what the big hoo-har is about. It’s a massive store so I think Selfridges is big enough to cater to all different markets.

FR: What were your best bits of this season’s London Fashion Week?

HH: Usually every season the best bit is when my show’s finished and I can have a drink! But I think this season everyone was saying Christopher Kane’s [show] was really good. I wasn’t there in person but people were crying and that because it was so amazing. It was beautiful – the fabrics and stuff he developed were so amazing. Richard Nichol was really good. I went to that one. It was beautiful. I thought that Roksanda Ilincic was great and I was at Louise Gray as well that was great. Really good.

Note: I saw Mr Holland at Nicoll's show, he was a little boozy and asked if his breath smelt of Vodka. It did. :) 

FR: You operate two brands, your mainline: House of Holland, and your diffusion line in Debenhams: H! By Henry Holland. How do you manage to juggle the two?

HH: It’s quite easy. We kind of oversee what happens with the diffusion line - working with the design team and designing that stuff is very different. It’s really rewarding because you see it a lot. You see it on girls. It’s about building a new brand. It’s two separate entities, a very different customer and in a very different space. Whereas House of Holland – there’s nothing that happens in my office that I don’t know about. From sales to distribution, to production, to all the design - every single thing. There’s still a team of five of us and people think we’re a huge company. We have a very wide reach. We distribute far and wide.


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