London 2012 has been the best advert for British creativity and ability to “deliver” that I can remember.
Our Olympic and Paralympic athletes have not only achieved stunning success but have looked great while doing so, in Stella McCartney’s stylish team kit and in an environment delivered by Britain’ world beating architectural and design community
Not all of us may have needed reminding, but the global enthusiasm for London’s games has conclusively shown that brand Britain sells.
But the excitement that has surrounded Britain during the Olympics cannot be allowed to become a missed opportunity.
We need people who will continue to be ambassadors for British design, capitalising on our rich heritage while continuing to innovate, surprise and delight the world.
As a believer in homegrown design and its business potential, I’m delighted to be speaking at MADE: The Entrepreneur Festival in Sheffield. MADE is sending out all the right messages about entrepreneurs and the need for people who are willing to stand up and make their own way in the world.
Sheffield is a brilliant city which epitomises the combination of heritage and innovation that is characteristic of the best modern British brands.
I will be telling the story of how my wife Gerardine and I built Red or Dead into an international fashion label from humble origins as a stall on Camden Market and then went on to create our current HemingwayDesign and Vintage brands across housing, interiors , products and fashion
For people who are willing to put the work in, Britain remains the ideal launch pad for creating brands that the world wants to buy into.
People from all over the world love the mixture of tradition, innovation and quirkiness that is such a hallmark of British design.
It’s exactly that spirit we have tapped into with some of our recent collections, notably the G Plan Vintage, a furniture range inspired by the G Plan era of the 1950s and 1960s.
The original G Plan, which grew out of another brilliant national celebration, the 1951 Festival of Britain, was the iconic furniture of its day. Having the chance to trawl the archives and see how it could be recreated for today’s market was a real joy.
That a bestseller of the post-war years can be brought back to life over half a century later shows our sense of history and tradition, and is also a testament to the enduring stylishness of iconic British design.
That’s something we at Hemingway Design have been celebrating annually since 2010 with the Vintage Festival, which showcases the history of British culture, from fashion to film, music, art and food. Drawing 50,000 to its inaugural event, and 200,000 to Southbank in 2011, the Vintage Festival has displayed the enduring appetite for our history and social heritage.
The wonderful paradox of British culture means, however, that while tradition and vintage are strong pillars of our design industry, we are constantly looking forward.
Sustainability will be the watchword of business in the decades to come, and Britain has once again shown itself to be ahead of the game.
At Hemingway Design, we have teamed up with McDonalds and textile recycling specialists Worn Again to work on a system for delivering a recycled staff uniform for their 88,000 UK employees that would allow material to be re-used ad infinitum.
Similarly, Arsenal FC have led the way this football season with a team kit made entirely out of recycled plastic bottles. This is the future and it’s happening now, right here in Britain.
Knowing our history and being aware of what’s round the corner are the twin virtues of Brand Britain, which we must invest in maintaining and selling to the world.
MADE: The Entrepreneur Festival is a brilliant opportunity to show off what’s good about British businesses, design-based and otherwise and I look forward to meeting the many interesting people who will be attending.