​unlikely obsessions: henry holland and business advice books

In an ongoing series of interviews, i-D talks to all manner of creative and interesting folks about specific things they love which you somehow wouldn't expect them to love.

by James Anderson
05 January 2016, 12:22am

Ramsbottom's most famous export, Henry Holland, has proved to be one of the more successful London-based designers of the past decade. Not least because his House of Holland label exudes a youthful, non-elitist, tongue-in-cheek spirit that perfectly chimes with lads and lasses of the LOL generation.

From the fashion biz in-joke slogan T-shirts which kick started his design career back in 2006, to the subsequent full collections shown each Fashion Week in the capital, or the popular collaborations with high street stores including Debenhams, as well as the appearances as a mentor and presenter on prime time tele shows such as Styled To Rock and The Changing Room, Henry makes it all seem rather giddy and somehow effortless.

Yet behind the quips and the trademark mega-quiff is a young man who grafts like a trooper. Hence, away from the catwalks and the nation's TV screens -- not to mention the showbiz parties at which he is often papped with famous pals -- you might spot him poring over the pages of best-selling, motivational, business advice books, written by brand-building legends, as Henry now reveals to i-D.

You seem like a down-to-earth Notherner who's done alright for himself - so do you actually need to read business advice books?
I'm definitely a down to earth Northerner, but the "done alright for himself" bit is definitely a matter of opinion. I have a long way to go and a lot more to do before I'm ready to profess I know anything, never mind everything!

Which was the first business advice book you read and what made you read it?
It was a Richard Branson book, Like a Virgin, or something. I bought it in an airport before a long haul flight - which is where I buy most of these things. Basically, because the Mail Online isn't available in the air!

Was it inspiring?
Yes, it gave me this internal "Hell, yeah!" kind of American attitude and a belief in myself that I could achieve anything. Then I got off whatever flight it was and completely forgot what it said!

Do you tend to read such books mainly while on the move?
I do tend to read them on my one holiday a year and on long haul flights. Usually when I'm away from work for brief moments, as I like to think I'm refuelling my brain into how to be better while I'm not actually doing stuff!

Which of them has proved to be particularly motivational?  
The latest one I've read, actually. It's called Damn Good Advice (For People With Talent!): How to Unleash Your Creative Potential by America's Master Communicator, George Lois. He's the guy that Mad Men is based on and works in advertising. It's in bite size chunks and my favourite quote is, "The only thing that gets better as it gets bigger is a penis", in relation to warning you about letting go of control of your business in order to grow it! I concur! I think I'm heeding that advice right now as the company is growing and I'm being very careful about how I manage that and comparing my company to a penis every single day!

Any other pearls of wisdom you can recall reading?
"If you see a bandwagon, it's too late..." which is a quote by James Goldsmith and I've no idea where I read it but I think it's so true.

Do any of these books seem particularly relevant to the world of fashion?
I think they all do. The fashion world is so much more basic nuts and bolts business than people like to think. We're basically manufacturers, distributors and retailers and all of those industries come with a shit load of back end management, that is so far away from the "House of Idiot" ideal I had in my mind when I started this!

Who is the most stylish business guru of all? And are there any who desperately need a makeover?
Polo necks are surely trending right now, thanks to Steve Jobs. And I love him, but Branson needs to address that mullet!

Can you imagine writing a House of Holland business advice book, for aspiring fashion designers?
I can, and I will… just give me a second. It will be called, How Not To Get Ahead By Giving Head And Other Things I've Learnt From The Fashion Industry!



Text James Anderson
Photography Piczo

Henry Holland
House of Holland
james anderson
unlikely obsessions