"Holiday, if you're watching, I'm obsessed — and if you make these sets in 100 other colors I will take them and I appreciate it," said Gigi Hadid during an Instagram Live video in July. The model was raving about the printed matching set she was wearing from Holiday The Label, an Australia-based brand behind the check-covered (and floral and newspaper print) outfits that have been all over Instagram this summer.
Oftentimes a brand's popularity through social media stems from fit pics, tagged photos, and sponsored content, but to have a celebrity genuinely wax poetic about a product? That's a rare instance that feels like winning the promotional jackpot for a designer.
"It brought a lot of people that hadn't seen them before to the site and we had an amazing response to it. It was very exciting to see," recalls designer Emma Mulholland over the phone from Sydney. "We're still getting things out of it and trying to make more and add new prints, as well. When you get something that a celebrity wears, you'd see a paparazzi photo or something like that. To me, it was just so nice to hear someone actually put it out there that they really liked [the sets] and thank me. It was a really nice moment that I've never had, so it was very, very sweet of her."
It seems like Mulholland had been building Holiday over the past three years for that very moment. Upon graduating from fashion design school in 2011, she started her own namesake label at 23 years old — a "crazy young age to start a brand," she says. While her business saw success over the course of five years, Mulholland didn't see longevity behind such a structured system that mostly relied on a seasonal calendar and wholesale retailers. At the same time, Instagram was just starting to pick up in the fashion space, as well as influencing how people shopped.
"I would start to see friends pop up from Instagram and they didn't have wholesale accounts and sales agents, and all these things I was trying to manage, which weren't actually getting me anywhere because I was constantly stressed and it just wasn't working out for me," remembers Mulholland. "So I decided that I wanted to start a brand that was more about what I wanted to wear and that I could see other people wanting to wear that wasn't crazy out of budget."
Enter Holiday the Label, a name inspired by being on vacation (or on "holiday") and how it inspires a more relaxed way of dressing. Mulholland’s debut collection only consisted of three styles of T-shirts and two pairs of pants, along with a zine she made in collaboration with friends and her favorite artists. Today, her brand is still tightly edited when it comes to styles, which has since expanded to include slip dresses, skirts, bowling shirts, jackets, and swimwear. "We try to stick to a small amount so the customers really understand how they fit, so they can keep buying them in different colors and prints, which seems to be working at the moment," explains Mulholland.
Indeed, while Holiday's silhouettes may be simple on their own, it's the brand's variety of catchy, hand screen-printed prints that really cause those thumb-stopping moments on Instagram. Its signature Kokomo pants — a high-waisted, straight-leg style — is a bestseller, especially in its checkered pattern. This season, Mulholland also added a "Good News" print, which features different types of newspapers with holiday-inspired articles written on it, as well as "Flora," an artsy, retro take on its traditional "Happy Hawaii." "Bandana" is a trippy paisley print, and Holiday’s latest animal print is a spotty cheetah motif.
"If the print is doing well for the pants, I might add it into the pajama set or our swimwear. It's really amazing to work with the majority of our sales being from online because you can test things out and see what products work, which is why we often do pre-sale, as well," says Mulholland, adding that her business rarely has excess inventory. (Plus, she's keeping Holiday's stockists super curated, too, with Lisa Says Gah in the U.S. and The Iconic in Australia.)
Although Holiday's recent claim to fame includes a Hadid co-sign and a popular quarantine-friendly outfit, Mulholland has had to make some big changes because of the pandemic. She gave up her studio and now works from home, and in a few weeks, Holiday will be launching cloth face mask sets made from extra printed fabrics. "They look really cute," admits Mulholland, surprising no one.
More accessories are on the way, too, including hats at the end of August and an eyewear collaboration with an Australian brand called Local Supply. And while her designs are broadly inspired by traveling, Holiday's clothing has now become synonymous with being stylish while on lockdown and on vacation.
"We've been really lucky to have clothing that wasn't necessarily the things you needed to wear going out and to weddings and stuff like that," says Mulholland. "I feel like brands that made those sorts of clothing are probably struggling a little bit as you can't really go do those things. I have seen a lot of brands quickly shift to tracksuit pants and pajamas, which we'd already been doing the whole time. We've definitely got this at-home-hanging-out-around-the-house clothes sorted."