Prolific designer Wayne Hemingway MBE, co-founder of fashion label Red or Dead, visited the University of Northampton on Thursday as part of Changemaker Week. Wayne now runs his own design agency Hemingway Design which specialises in affordable and social design, including social housing.
Wayne started Red or Dead with his wife Geraldine in 1982 and from its humble beginnings on Camden market, the brand has grown to offer a range of clothes, footwear, fashion handbags, optical frames, swimwear and hosiery. Wayne and Geraldine lead the brand until 1999 and while at the helm they won numerous design awards, including the British Fashion Council’s Streetstyle Designer of the Year Award in 1996, 1997 and 1998. The label became a globally recognised brand and featured on the catwalk at London Fashion Week for 21 consecutive seasons.
Wayne addressed a packed hall of students, staff and members of the public, giving the audience a fascinating insight into the world of fashion, business and creativity. Before his presentation, Wayne joined our #LISTITLIVEIT campaign, sharing his future ambition: “Deliver and really ‘deliver’ on every project Hemingway Designs takes on.”
From Camden Market, Red or Dead grew to become a successful and in demand label. Wayne explained the key to its success: “We came up with a USP. We wanted to be the world’s first affordable designer label. We pulled out of Harrods, we sold to shops where we would buy clothes: Miss Selfridge, Top Shop.”
When explaining the passion behind Red or Dead, Wayne explained: “We were always political. We had a left wing attitude and views.” The label often skirted controversy: “Sick face of British fashion? We had an opinion. We were willing to be brave, take a risk, put our heads on the line. Not be shrinking violets.”
Encouraging students to work hard and believe in themselves, he commented: “You cannot become a really good fashion designer unless you work really hard. Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood. They worked their backsides off. But it paid off.”
Wayne offered plenty of advice to the future fashion designers in the audience: “Polarise opinion. If you can develop your conscience, your views, have balanced and researched values, you are likely to do better.”
He added: “If you can, get in front of your customers. You have to be thick skinned. Make things, get them in front of your friends, in front of people who are not your friends: you will learn so much.”
“Around the world, young creative people are making a difference. Go out there and be inspired. You won’t be inspired just staying in Northampton. Designers get so much from getting outside. Look at places. Travel, Go to the Mitte District in Berlin. Go to New York. Hackney Wick. Change society and change yourself. You can be political through your creativity and your thinking.”
Wayne visited the University of Northampton’s Avenue Campus as part of Changemaker Employability Week. The five day schedule featured over 50 events, designed to inspire both staff and students to ‘Give more, get more and be more’.
For more information on Red or Dead, visit their website. The Hemingway Design website is here. This event was arranged by the University of Northampton’s Enterprise Club.
To watch a video of Wayne Hemingway chatting to the University after his talk, click here.