Starting out as market traders at Camden Market in 1981, Wayne and his wife Gerardine have gone on to become icons in the fashion and design world, currently running the award winning multi-disciplinary ‘HemingwayDesign’.
Their first step on to the ladder of their success took place in the early 1980’s after Wayne had used the couples rent money to help fund his band. They desperately needed £18.00 to pay that week’s rent for their flat, so they decided to empty their wardrobes of Gerardine’s home made clothes and Wayne’s old punk and second hand clothing and take the contents to Camden Market to sell. The rent was £6.00 and at the end of the first day they had taken just over £100.
After the success of day one Wayne Hemingway sensed that there was a gap in the market for second-hand clothing and he spent every waking hour trawling charity shops, jumble sales and auctions, whilst Gerardine made clothes from fabric remnants. They found out about prototype recycling facilities (called Mungo and Shoddy yards) and became the first to really exploit these places for seeking out collectable second-hand Within 18 months the couple had second-hand clothing and footwear coming in from around the world, they had 16 stalls and had expanded into the old Kensington Market where Gerardine made and sold her designs.
Things were going brilliantly for the couple and they were making £10,000 every weekend. Through working at the markets they were able to learn the history of fashion and the art of design. They soon learnt which items would sell and which wouldn’t, meaning both had enough knowledge to push on in the industry.
In 1983 the first ‘Red or Dead’ collection was created, inspired from Russian peasant clothing. It was well received and they obtained a huge order from US department store Macy’s. Over the next few years ‘Red or Dead’ stores opened up around the world and they began to sell Dr.Martens workwear shoes as a fashion item, and then designed a range of fashion shoes.
They built ‘Red or Dead’ into a label that received global acclaim resulting in winning the British Fashion Council’s Streetstyle Designer of the Year Award for an unprecedented three consecutive years in 1996, 1997 and 1998.
After 21 consecutive seasons on the catwalk at London Fashion Week, the couple sold ‘Red or Dead’ in a multi million pound cash sale. Having sold ‘Red or Dead’ Wayne and Gerardine set-up ‘HemingwayDesign’ in 1999, which specialises in affordable and social design. One of their highest profile projects has been , The Staiths South Bank, a 760 property mass market housing project on Tyneside for Taylor Wimpey Homes. They also have designed beachpods in Boscombe for rent and sale, which raised over £1million for the local authority.
Wayne and his team put on a new cultural event in August 2010, the ‘Vintage Festival’. In 2011, the festival took place in London at the Southbank Centre, as part of the 60th Anniversary of the Festival of Britain, and as well as being an annual event has a number of highly acclaimed spin offs www. vintagefestival.co.uk and www.classiccarbootsale.co.uk. In 2012, Wayne, his wife Gerardine and the ‘HemingwayDesign’ team, were appointed as designers of the historic and disused Dreamland site in Margate. This includes transformation and branding for the £10 million heritage theme park.
This year ‘HemingwayDesign’ introduced a new London Underground staff uniform Also in 2014 it was announced that Wayne was to become patron of ‘The Unite Foundation, a charity providing free university accommodation to young people in the UK who hail from challenging backgrounds. Wayne and Gerardine’s story really is fantastic and one of great success.
From starting out by selling their own clothes at Camden and continuing to move forward on the market scene, all of their hard work and persistence has led to the successful empire they own today.
Market Trade News would like to thank Wayne for his time and for sharing his fantastic story with us. The journey from where he started to where he is today truly is inspirational and goes to show where our ideas and dreams can take us if we are willing to put in the hard work.