Last month I had the pleasure of chatting with Henry Holland. No, not that Henry Holland. The other one – from Sydney label Eleventh Commandment.
While I’m sure this Henry Holland is just as ravishing, I was drawn to the man for starting a label which sums itself up in a modern day biblical quote.
“Thou shalt always dress with tremendous amounts of style and be furiously good-looking.”
If other businesses had a commandment instead of a lame mission and vision I think we’d all feel a bit better. Anyhow, back to the story.
I wanted to interview Henry so that I can get the essence of the label without diluting it. The interview below is him unleashed. Thanks Henry!
Now go forth and be fabulous. x
Describe your label
Eleventh Commandment is premium denim and apparel label that was launched at Sydney Fashion Week in 2008. We focus on creating designs that are cutting edge yet irreverent and sometimes satirical. Everything we produce is 100% Made in Australia.
Who does your label appeal to?
Eleventh Commandment should appeal to anyone that is passionate about style and pop culture. We particularly love jeans and attempt to constantly explore what is possible with denim. Our customers seems to appreciate this, so hopefully we can continue to appeal to a wider range of denim lovers.
Why do you think your work is loved by your customers?
Hopefully our customers appreciate the items we produce because they understand the work that we have put into making a premium quality garment that has our signature style which hopefully isn’t the same as everything else available on the market. Either that, or they have been brainwashed.
Who would you most like to see in your designs?
Anyone from the 27 Club. Tall order I know.
What is the price range of your garments?
$69.95 – $349.95
How many collections do you produce per year?
Each year we produce a spring / summer collection and an autumn / winter collection. Each of these is split into two drops.
Where is the label manufactured?
We are 100% Australian made. Every one of our garments is fitted with a swing tag that reads ‘This garment is 100% Made in Australia. If you’re looking for some poor quality Chinese shit you’re going to have to look elsewhere.’
Where is the label stocked?
We are currently stocked in 25+ leading boutiques nationwide.
Do you have plans to expand stockists beyond Australia?
We have a couple of stockists overseas but export throws up a whole bunch of challenges which makes things extremely difficult. The depressed world economy and the high Australian dollar are working against us at the moment but we have plans to continue to expand internationally when the timing is right.
We are also interested in being stocked on Mars, but haven’t had any luck as of writing.
How did the label get started?
The label was started by Henry Holland and Joshua Oldfield. It was the result of a science experiment gone wrong.
How big is the design team? Who does what in the design team?
The design team consists of myself, Josh and Madeline. I am in charge of the cupcakes, Josh’s responsibilities include temperature control and protecting us from comic book super villains and Madeline spends most of the time balancing plates on her head. She is getting pretty good at it.
How did you get started in design and what did you do before that?
I got started in design on a whim and a prayer. Well not so much the second part, prayer is for fools. So basically it was just on a whole lot of whim. But it was good whim, and it has got me this far. I didn’t have any formal design training and before starting the label I studied journalism.
How do you find staff? What do you look for in people? Where do you advertise jobs?
It’s funny you should ask that as we have just taken on another staff member, and so have just been through the process of fishing around the industry / universe to try and land the right person. The main thing we look for is someone that has all the right skills and experience but who is also going to be the right cultural fit for Eleventh Commandment.
We advertised the position through a couple of websites, our own blog and social media pages and basically just along the grapevine. We had a pretty overwhelming response due partly to the fact that Eleventh Commandment is a cool place to work and partly to the fact that the economy is in the doldrums so there are lots of applicants and very few jobs. Sad but true.
How do you find inspiration for your work?
Inspiration is like love. You never know where you might find it and when you describe it you will invariably talk in massive boring clichés. All that being said, we find inspiration everywhere (see I told you, didn’t I?)
You can find inspiration in movies, music, online, behind the couch. Basically it’s going to be in the last place you look. So when you lose it, think back and retrace your steps, and you will eventually find it again.
What have you found most rewarding about having your own label?
It is very rewarding at the end of each development phase to see the whole new collection altogether. It takes a tremendous amount of work to create a collection, bordering on the absurd. But to see it all looking pretty at the end makes it all worthwhile. It’s kind of how I imagine a mother to feel when looking at their baby after so many months of difficult labor. Except that the collection doesn’t cry and shit everywhere.
What do you wish you knew at the start of your label?
If I had a time machine I would cruise back and have a conversation with a younger me that would go a little something like this:
“Hey Henry from the past, I’m you three years from now. I’ve come back in time to give you some advice.”
“Fuck off you creep. You’re not me three years from now. You look about 40.”
“Yes, running my own business has aged me terribly. But I’ve got some words of wisdom for you that can help you avoid some of the difficulties I have faced.”
“Sorry what was that? I could’t hear you, I was too busy thinking I already know everything.”
“You know you’re a little shit, I’m sorry I ever came back here. Go invest in some U.S. subprime mortgages. Have a nice life…. asshole.”
The next step for your label is….
Some of the projects we’re working on:
- Producing our SS11/12 ‘Made in Dreams’ collection, which hits stores in August / September
- Making uniforms for Swiss army (we figure if they’re going to be neutral they should at least look good)
- Developing our AW2012 collection
- Creating a new ozone layer made out of teen spirit and french fries
- World domination (well, the nice bits anyway)