From catwalk fashion to social housing, Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway have packed in a lot. The Simple Things chatted to them about their latest venture, the Festival of Thrift.
Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway know a thing or two about thrift. As we sit in their office in Wembley, surrounded by busy staff and sleepy dogs, the space’s previous incarnation as the family home is still obvious – we are sitting at what was once their dining table.
The Hemingways are best known for the business they built in the early 80s – the hugely influential fashion label Red or Dead – but today we are talking about their big project this autumn, the Festival of Thrift.
The Darlington-based festival is now in its second year. As with many projects that Hemingway Design gets involved in, the idea came from a recommendation. A friend suggested they check out an old wool factory in Darlington that had been reinvented as office space for start-ups. Lingfield Point, they were told, would be right up their street.
“It was one of the best examples of large-scale upcycling we had seen,” says Wayne. “It gave the building a new, modern purpose, and we felt that was great.” And so a venue for the first Festival of Thrift was found.
“The concept of upcycling was familiar,” says Wayne, “but no one had celebrated it in a place that represented upcycling on a macro scale.” The festival featured local start-ups, demonstrations and workshops based on making-do creatively and reviving forgotten skills. It drew 27,000 visitors, largely by word of mouth.
“It showed how keen people were to come and learn new skills. Everybody was on their phones saying, ‘You’ve got to get down to this’, so as the day went on, people flooded in.”
The Festival of Thrift 2014
The Festival of Thrift, Darlington, 27th and 28th Sept. Free entry. www.festivalofthrift.co.uk. The Hemingways are also behind The Vintage Festival at the Midland Hotel, Morecambe, 6–7th Sept, www.vintagefestival.co.uk