A figurehead for business, creativity and social change, Wayne Hemingway is the successful co-founder of fashion label Red or Dead and HemingwayDesign; from a market stall to a multi-million pound company, Wayne’s journey of entrepreneurship through four decades in the design industry leaves audiences hungry to leave their own legacy.
Co-founder of fashion label Red or Dead and HemingwayDesign, Wayne Hemingway (MBE) did not become acclaimed as a keynote speaker simply for scrubbing up well in black tie (although he does).
One of the UK's leading business figures with four decades’ experience in the design industry, his passion for ‘thrifty’ fashion and thought-provoking insights on how creativity can have societal impact provide real talking points for company owners, employees and students alike.
Wayne’s story reminds us that entrepreneurs rarely travel in straight lines.
His offbeat upbringing (his dad is Billy Two Rivers, a Mohawk Indian wrestling champion who left the family when Wayne was three, and his mother was a stylish fashion guru who dressed him eccentrically and in various characters such as Elvis, Tarzan and the odd Beatle) created an affiliation with the ‘unusual’ – specifically fashion and design.
Starting out at a second-hand fashion stall in Camden market, Wayne’s big break into housing design arose from a scornful piece he wrote for The Independent. Since then, his no-nonsense Northern directness partnered with his kooky punk style and instinctive working ethos have contributed to the enormous success of Red or Dead’s controversially playful street style. The result? In 1999, Wayne sold his company in a multi-million pound deal, having created one of the strongest British brands of the 90s.
Shortly after, Wayne and his partner (in marriage and business) Gerardine set up HemingwayDesign, which has created affordable new build housing schemes, 'turned around' troubled estates, and instigated a host of impactful seaside regeneration projects.
Although he had studied Geography and Town Planning at University College London, Wayne had no experience of the construction industry. Working with house builder Wimpey in 2005 he created the Staithes South Bank, an 800-unit development In Gateshead, Tyne and Wear. This was the first in a series of award-winning building projects.
The company extends into interior design: it has been involved in some notable projects including the former 2012 Athletes’ Village, The Institute of Directors, and the re-design of the Dreamland site in Margate, a heritage theme park.
Wayne Hemingways’ team are also responsible for devising some of the UK’s best loved cultural festivals including the Vintage Festival, Festival of Thrift and Urban Village Fete.
HemingwayDesign, marketing arm HemingwayDigital, work with an impressive lists of brands that include: The National Trust, Coca Cola, John Lewis Partnership, B&Q, Sainsbury's, Sky TV, Sony, The Royal Mail, CafeDirect, Hush Puppies, DC Thompson, G Plan and The Caravan Club. HemingwayDigital is also able to offer graphic design work and branding expertise to transform corporate identities ‘that strike at the heart of the customer base’.
As well as an erstwhile role as Director of The British Fashion Council, Wayne is now on the Design Council Trustee Board and the Design Council CABE Committee. Wayne has also organised several cultural festivals across the UK including.
In a refreshingly honest delivery of experiences, warts and all, that are as inspirational as they are entertaining, Wayne’s creativity and motivation to bring about change render audiences entirely galvanised from the collars of their patterned 70s’ shirts right down to their polished 40s’ shoes.