VIDEO: Wayne Hemingway: “you’re not born with talent, you earn it”

  • NQ's Amy Holmes and Rachel Velebny caught up with legendary fashion and urban designer, Wayne Hemingway
  • Wayne co-founded the world famous Red or Dead fashion label, and new venture HemingwayDesigns 
  • Watch full interview below: 

It was a miserable Friday morning in Manchester and the glimpse of Spring and sunshine we had seen earlier in the week had been washed away with the rain that threatened not to stop. It is Manchester after all and you soon learn not to get your hopes up when it comes to the city's weather.

But the grey skies didn't stop the students and academics from attending the event, Future Talent in the Creative Industries with Wayne Hemingway, hosted by the Creative Industries cluster at Manchester Metropolitan University.

The event included a range of talks from industry experts, the chance to network as well as a competition that was open to postgraduate and undergraduate third year students of creative courses at MMU, with tickets for the event priced at £4 and £6.

Wayne Hemingway, co-founder of Red or Dead and HemingwayDesign, has experienced a whole variety of aspects within the creative industry from growing the fashion brand Red or Dead after moving to London with his wife Gerardine, with £50 each in their pocket, to more recently co-designing the London Underground uniform and specialising in housing regeneration. He was even in a band at one point!

So what better person to open the event and inspire this generation's creatives.

Wayne, 56, spoke to us before his talk giving NQ a sneak preview of what it would involve: "I'm going to talk about how we started off and hopefully give some inspiration to young people about how it can be done without having loads of money. I'll be talking about things like not to fear failure, I'll be talking about some of the projects that we do and how you shouldn't pigeonhole yourself.

"Hopefully at the end of it people will have learnt a bit, that's the main thing. I've been a designer for thirty eight years and at one time I was the same age as the people in the audience and if I can give tips back about how I've achieved stuff then hopefully it might help them a little bit, you never know."

Inspiration definitely flowed throughout the talk with Wayne giving plenty advice and guidance – like how he thinks you are better off spending time forming a band at uni and going out, which I think was a reference to his experiences and time in a band, which was lapped up by the audience, the majority of them being students.

The talk was also filled with funny stories and anecdotes from his career as a designer, he briefly mentioned that Alexander McQueen's first job in fashion was at Red or Dead.

What stood out to me most was how much he stressed that through sheer hard work and dedication we have the power to change the world and rethink how society runs, drawing examples from his work and the social impact they have had.

He even pointed out how our generation is worse off than his, in terms of how much harder it is for us to able to buy our first house and get a job, referring to it as 'disempowering a generation'. Going on to explain how he is trying to do everything he can to make change.

Hard work was also an element mentioned when Wayne shared with us some tips on making a career in the design industry: "The main thing that you've got to have is you've got to want to do it, number one, there's no point in doing anything in life if you're just doing it because you think you should or because you think it might be an idea. You've got to have a passion for it, there's a lot of competition, you've got to be able to work hard, roll your sleeves up, get stuck in.

"It's constant learning you're not born with talent, you earn it, you work hard. We're still learning, my age, I'm still learning and the day that you think you know it all is the day you will fail.

"And you've got to get on with people because it's not one person who makes design happen or a brand happen, you need to get on with your manufacturers, you need to get on with your sales people, your marketing people, your banks, everything and the public. So you've got to be a decent person I think to succeed."

But Wayne pointed out that if you enjoy what you do it doesn't feel like hard work and you find you are willing to make sacrifices for your career, something he himself has learnt through growing the brand Red or Dead and HemingwayDesign.

The popular quote came to mind, 'do something you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life.'

He explained: "Well it never felt hard, it's still sixteen hours a day working and even now we've just come up with a new style of event, we also have an events side to our business we design events and put them on.

"We came up with a new one that was launched last weekend and the team were working in the month up to it, they were working up until nine 'o clock every night, often till midnight, eating in the office, showering in the office, they might as well of slept on the chairs because they were back in again at 8 'o clock the next morning.

"When you're driven and you want to do something, yes you get knackered, you're working hard but you're not thinking it's hard work. It's not a chore and Red or Dead was never a chore. We could go for a month with sleeping 3 hours a night but it was the fun of getting to where we got to.

"If you enjoy what you do you can do without sleep, you can do without watching tele, you can do without going out for periods, you can let your relationships take a second tier down. But you've got to really enjoy what you do and you've got to be driven to achieve something."

Anyone else thinking about cancelling their Netflix subscription after that and loading up on coffee? Me too.

However, I'm sure making room in the diary for one of Wayne's events could be a worthy reason to put the books down for a day. HemingwayDesign put on a whole host of events throughout the year such as The Vintage Festival in London and Vintage on the Dock in Liverpool.

So, will we be seeing an event spring up in Manchester anytime soon?

Wayne said: "We nearly brought one to Tib Street car park in Manchester but they're building on it, they decided they're going to build some flats on it.

"So if we find a space and we can make it work financially then yeah. We do them in Liverpool, we do them in Glasgow, Blackburn, all over the place we've just never done one in Manchester. But one day I'm sure."

The last question we asked Wayne was one that was on everyone's lips, well everyone's who know that Doc Martens can make an outfit.

Yeah, you guessed it. How did Wayne predict Dr Martens were going to be such a big hit in fashion?

He said: "We were wearing them ourselves, It was clear that a big silhouette on the end of a tight, fitted, body conscious outfit was different, it hadn't been done before. These things just happen and if enough people like what you do it grows and it grows very quickly."

Before you ask, no unfortunately we didn't have time to ask Wayne what he predicts the next 'Doc Martens' in the fashion industry will be.

We will have to figure that one out for ourselves.