Nottingham designers Nick Holland and Ash Gangotra - the men behind Chinese label Bosideng - celebrate first UK store opening
ONE of the largest fashion brands in China has moved into the UK market for the first time – with clothes created by two Nottingham designers.
The new upmarket menswear collection for Bosideng has been designed by Hucknall-based fashion designers Nick Holland and Ash Gangotra, who previously worked together on former Oasis singer Liam Gallagher's brand Pretty Green.
Bosideng is a household name in China, with more than 8,000 stores. But it was largely unknown outside the country – until now, with the opening of its £35m flagship store in the affluent west London shopping area of South Molton Street.
It is being hailed as the first major Chinese entry into the European fashion market – and the work of friends Holland and Gangotra has been recognised and praised all over the world.
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The pair were asked to design an entire 500-item wardrobe which looked European but also reflected Chinese influences.
"They wanted to produce a high-level European brand – that's what our brief was," says Gangotra. "And they wanted a full wardrobe – two-piece suits, three-piece suits, jackets, shirts, shoes, belts, scarves, knitwear – and place it within that English, European look, but with Chinese influence.
"But it's very subtle. You can't go round putting dragon designs on the linings. It's more about silhouettes, mandarin collars and a signature red lining throughout.
"It gets a bit tricky as you go through the seasons because you're trying to find ways of keeping that link in. So when I go to China I'm always trying to find and research areas of design I can include.
"Here at Nottingham Castle there's also a Chinese silk collection from the state museum that I looked at."
The designs have attracted celebrity buyers such as Jahmene Douglas, who was recently seen wearing a Bosideng polo shirt on the X-Factor.
He was also wearing Bosideng London – along with pop stars JLS – when they posed for the cameras at the recent premiere of James Bond movie Skyfall in London.
A Holland and Gangotra-designed polo shirt of the kind worn by Jahmene costs £95 while a double-breasted suit will set you back £500.
Holland and Gangotra remain modest about their achievements.
The pair first met nearly 25 years ago when Gangotra was doing a work placement at the Cormans clothing factory in Hucknall where Holland's father was production manager.
Gangotra first went on to set up his own street and clubwear label called Chameleon while Holland, well known as a tailor, set up his own classic English clothing label Holland Esquire 12 years ago.
The two now work together at their fashion consultancy titled 28bpm, in Bolsover Street, Hucknall.
In 2009 the duo became founder directors of Liam Gallagher's new fashion label Pretty Green and designed its award-winning range for the next two years.
It was after leaving Pretty Green last year that the call came through from Bosideng, where founder and chairman Dekang Gao was looking to appoint a team to design a range for the company's first store outside China.
"A Bosideng retail director's wife worked in a clothes shop and when they were looking for a brand or a design to bring them into the UK she saw Nick's stuff in the store and said, 'We like this look, we like this style'," says Gangotra.
"So they basically traced him. It wasn't until the phone call came that they realised that we were two of the original founders of Pretty Green."
That was in June 2011. After winning the contract, the pair spent several months designing a full wardrobe and shuttling back and forth between Nottingham and China.
With the Bosideng store in London now open, the company is said to be already looking for new premises in Milan and New York. And ironically Holland and Gangotra's designs, largely made in Europe, are set to be exported to China.
Meanwhile, despite the global press about their Bosideng work, the two designers intend to remain in Nottingham. The Bosideng contract is up for renewal in February. In the meantime Holland will keep running his label Holland Esquire while Gangotra has aspirations to set up his own brand called 28.
"I'm happy to keep a low profile and keep my head down in Nottingham," says Holland.
Gangotra adds: "We can get our names in newspapers all over the world but when we walk down the street in Nottingham nobody knows who we are."