Wayne Hemingway

Wayne Hemingway

Wayne is a regular columnist for Sublime. He is co-founder of fashion label Red or Dead and in 1999 he set up his own fashion consultancy, HemingwayDesign joining forces with building firm Wimpey to work on various housing projects specialising in affordable and social design. He is also chairman of the South Coast Design Forum, and chair of Building For Life, the national standard for well-designed homes and neighbourhoods forum.

Wayne Hemingway encourages us to keep it simple, if we want to be happy and avoid debt 

You can’t hide from the words ‘credit’, ‘crunch’ and the dreaded r-word – ‘recession’. These terms seem to get sucked into every news story lately. The art world is described as ‘disgustingly decadent’ as Damien Hirst’s pickled sharks sell for millions, when surely this is art’s version of Malcolm McLaren’s and The Sex Pistols’ Great Rock and Roll Swindle. It’s a way of prizing out some ill-gotten gains from Russian oligarchs.

I’ve had an interesting few weeks sitting on the Eco Towns Challenge Panel. The proposed eco town programme to deliver up to ten new settlements in England has naturally caused a major outbreak, nay plague, of nimbyism (Not In My Back Yard)

As a kid and a teenager I grew up without understanding what the concept of being a designer meant at all. While I lived in a household that ‘did stuff’ (my mum and nan made clothes, pop made toys and furniture), if I had said I wanted to be a designer my mum and stepdad would have been nonplussed, encouraging me to get a ‘proper job’.

I am often asked, 27 years on, could Gerardine and I start our careers today in a similar way to how we started out back then. In 1981, while still in our teens, Gerardine and I emptied our wardrobes into Camden Market one Saturday morning – the rent was £6 and we took home just over £100. We returned the next morning, coughed up our £6, made a profit and realised that people liked our take on fashion. Gerardine, despite having no formal training, was then able to experiment with her dressmaking skills and opened a unit in that hotbed of creativity, Kensington Market. For £18 a week Gerardine could get direct feedback from the consumer, sit behind her sewing-machine and hone her skills, and Red or Dead was born. Soon after, we opened stalls within Affleck’s Palace and The Royal Exchange in Manchester and launched little shops in Soho. In the mid-80s we opened a store on Neal Street in Covent Garden, with a weekly rent of £60.