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Wayne Hemingway: Things "have to change" for retailers to recover

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By Cameron Clarke, Editor

December 21, 2011 | 2 min read

Wayne Hemingway has told The Drum that it would be "a lot harder" to launch his Red or Dead brand today due to the struggles facing the high street.

Speaking in the wake of the Mary Portas review, Hemingway insisted "things have to change" to allow more upcoming retailers to thrive in Britain's town centres.

The renowned designer, who started by selling his Red or Dead clothing on Camden Market in the early 1980s, said: "We managed to do it without any money or any borrowings because our first rent on Camden was £6. And we were able to open a shop on Kensington High Street which was part of Kensington Market for £18 a week.

"Most high streets have been gentrified, they are owned by pension funds and they won’t rent them at the prices that we were able to. Places like Kensington Market are now PC Worlds. Those places are gone for young people to be able to start-up in.

"You can do it on the internet now but that’s not the same as seeing the whites of a customer’s eyes and understanding whether what you are doing is good or average or brilliant."

Hemingway, who is inviting budding retailers to sell their wares at his Vintage festival, said if he were starting out today he would neither rely solely on the high street or digital.

"You’d have to do a combination of [high street and digital]. You’d be daft not to start up without a digital offer, especially when it’s such a cost-effective way of getting out there.

"But no way would I just do digital. I would look at every possible way to get my product out there - from doing market stalls, to pop-up shops, to knocking on retailers' doors to stock my products.

"I don’t think we’re gonna all sit at home and order everything on our computers."

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