Will Middleton, former Harrodian pupil, is celebrating one year of his brand, h clothing. He took on h clothing as a legacy to his late brother, Hugo, who came up with the idea to create a clothing brand that addressed stigma around mental health while at fashion college.
Hesitant at first, and unsure of whether it would succeed (he had no prior experience working in fashion), a year since the company’s launch he’s happy that he’s managed to bring it to life. The more he does it the more he realises that the brand has the potential to serve a lot of people.
One in four people in the UK have a mental illness and 75 per cent of these are developed by the age of 24. Considering how common problems with mental health are, more unashamed conversations need to happen. This is what Will hopes h clothing will promote. Not only do they donate 10% of their profit to mental health charities (to the Ted Senior Foundation currently but previously to Young Minds, which was Hugo’s initial choice for his project), but their clothes are designed with the intention to spark conversations about mental health as and when they’re ready.
Will has these conversations regularly, both while volunteering at the mental health support line, Shout, and with his customers. He identifies having the first conversation about mental health as the biggest challenge, which is why he sends messages to each of h clothing’s Instagram followers encouraging them to reach out if they need someone to talk to. “Sometimes you may be the only person they’ve opened up to and will open up to for months to come, if ever,” so when someone reaches out for help that comes before anything else he does for the company.
It’s often easier, he explains, to talk about these things with a complete stranger than with someone you know, particularly because a lot of people don’t know how to respond when people open up to them. This can feel invalidating when you’re taking the first steps to open up, but as Will says “everyone has a right to feel pain and to admit they’re struggling because everyone has their box they fill with their pain or grief, just someone else’s box might be a bit bigger but your feelings are still worthy.”
On top of its commitment to raising awareness about mental health, h clothing is all made from organic cotton and a tree is planted for every order to offset carbon. Considering eco anxiety is on the rise, it’s fitting that the brand ensures it doesn’t put any pressure on the planet as this will inevitably contribute to the anxieties around mental health significantly in the coming years.
Will has more planned for the future of h clothing, too. As well as further drops of new designs, he wants to start a podcast in the new year, create a community space where people can anonymously discuss their mental health without feeling judged and work with schools and universities to raise awareness about mental health among students. Congratulations, Will, on an amazing venture! We can’t wait to see what more you achieve.
You can find h clothing at: https://www.hclothing.com/
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