The son of a Red Indian Wrestler, Billy Two Rivers, Wayne Hemingway and his partner Geraldine took Red or Dead from a small stall on Camden Market selling second hand clothes and shoes to a worldwide fashion brand in less than 10 years.
In 1999 they sold up and moved on, this time the goal was more ambitious. Staiths South Bank, is a 800 property mass market housing development built in a particularly run down part of Tyneside in the north of England. It was designed by the Hemingways in partnership with Wimpey homes.
It’s aims were simple, to create a living environment full of individuality and stimulus that people enjoyed living in. Greenery and cycle paths replaced car parks and concrete, a place the residents could care about while encouraging the local community to be just that, a community.
Since Staiths, they’ve been regenerating parts of Lothian, Manchester and Dartford with affordable housing schemes in addition to a wide range of creative and charity projects.
Not content with saving the world the pair also organise the BEST festival in the UK. The Vintage festival runs over the 29th, 30th and 31st July 2011 on the South Bank in London.
It’s a celebration of all things vintage, from music and fashion to film, art and design from the 1920s to the 1980s. Now in it’s second year, there is TONS of stuff happening (check out their site below), all of it good old fashioned no nonsense fun!
We spoke to the Blackburn Rovers fan about the upcoming festival and some of his other projects…
Are you proud of The Staiths South Bank project (below), and did you learn a lot from the experience?
Its the project Gerardine and I are most proud of ….we really proved that affordable housing can lift the spirit
. We learnt that there are no excuses for mediocrity.
What is the main problem with the current social housing?
In general it doesn’t lift the spirit …in many cases it doesn’t feel like home, and is just something functional that keeps people dry and warm.. but there is more to life than that.
What are you up to at the moment?
Working on some very stimulating projects ..from our social housing projects, to all our product ranges, and of course our Vintage Festival…and some wonderful new initiatives that we will be announcing over the next few months…you can get a lot of info from projects section of www.hemingwaydesign.co.uk
Are there any ‘current’ fashion designers you like?
There are loads of good designers …many work on the High St at places like Cos ..in terms of big names I have enormous respect for what Vivienne Westwood has achieved.
Do you think having no ‘formal’ training was an advantage with Red or Dead?
It allowed us to be “free” and to have no boundaries …” learning on the job was also stimulating.
Do you still feel like an outsider?
I was an outsider when I owned Red or Dead…it was the best way for me and the brand…and of course am an outsider today because most of our work is outside of the fashion industry.
What would you take on a fashion version of Desert Island Discs?
Guess what.. musically…. Fashion ..turn to the left (Bowie) and She’s in Fashion by Suede… I would wear my trusty old 50s army shorts and 60s M & S short sleeve shirt that I have had for 25 years.
Were you surprised at how popular the Vintage Festival was last year?
Not really ..we knew that the demand was there , we knew that the idea is good and we worked damn hard to make it a great event and to get the word out.
Are you hoping to make this the Vintage Festival an annual event?
If it develops into something that becomes simpler to deliver (through experience) then yes! ..its a complex event + takes a tremendous effort to deliver …there are only so many years you can work at this intensity.
What are you most excited about this year?
Dividing the Royal Festival hall into 13 venues, each with fantastic content is exciting ..I am looking forward to sampling everything from Shhh! the 20s Prohibition Club to The Warehouse ( 80s rare groove to rave) in a previously unused cavernous space deep in the bowels of the Royal Festival Hall.
If you could go back to an era (and be in your twenties), when and where would it be?
The 70s were fantastic for me Bowie, Northern Soul, Disco, Punk, wow!!
Were you ever tempted to follow your father into wrestling?
No thank you!
What is the secret to a good work/play relationship with your partner?
Love, great kids, a shared vision, tolerance.
Do your kids think you are cool?
Yes, just like I know they are!!
Is it easy for you to prioritise your time between work and family life?
No..but when the kids are as interested in our work / our passions as us then life works.
Who was Blackburn Rovers’s best player last season, and will they stay up next year?
Samba + Hoilett + Robinson + Yes
Where is your fav place in the world?
Home … round the dinner table with all the family at home