Eleven years ago Nick Wakeman took a gamble – she threw herself into her own venture Studio Nicholson. Having looked into her very own wardrobe for a creative spark, Wakeman found it in an unexpected form... "it was all there in front of me, I’ve always worn menswear and altered the pieces - raised the armholes on shirts, narrowed the shoulders on jackets, thrown darts into the waistband of suit pants. That’s where it all started, I vividly remember that day."
Known for her superior choice of fabrications, she developed her craft at the Chelsea School of Art in London where her knowledge of materials and design began to flourish. Leaning on Japanese culture, Wakeman engineers considered pieces that are not only designed to provide structure and functionality, but also elegance, modernity and playfulness. The result? Collections that exude sophisticated minimalism that are uniquely Studio Nicholson.
Working with only the best manufacturers in Italy, Portugal, Japan and the UK – all with a common goal of building quality products – Studio Nicholson’s pursuit of creating the ultimate modular wardrobe is something to behold. Expect relaxed silhouettes, premium fabrics and intricate detailing in both menswear and womenswear here at Incu.
Let’s start with the origins of the brand. How did Studio Nicholson get its start?Nick – Studio Nicholson was founded 11 years ago, I had taken a couple years out after selling the brand I launched in Japan and looked to my wardrobe for the next idea. It was all there in front of me, I’ve always worn menswear and altered the pieces - raised the armholes on shirts, narrowed the shoulders on jackets, thrown darts into the waistband of suit pants. That’s where it all started, I vividly remember that day.
Could you give our audience an idea behind the ethos of Studio Nicholson? Nick – Functionality, modernity and playfulness are the inherent elements we believe in as a brand; they are the sacrosanct foundations of each collection. I believe that Studio Nicholson’s magic lies in making the everyday and common place garment exceptionally beautiful and flawlessly modern. I am infatuated with the idea of the ordinary and conventional in place of any kind of fantasy. Street photography provides important narratives to each of our collections.
It was all there in front of me, I’ve always worn menswear and altered the pieces - raised the armholes on shirts, narrowed the shoulders on jackets, thrown darts into the waistband of suit pants. That’s where it all started, I vividly remember that day.
Where do you draw inspiration from for the label? Nick - Architecture is something that I constantly draw inspiration from. I am a big fan of Tadao Ando & Neave Brown. If the sign of a good architect is really caring about the people who will live in the buildings you design, Neave Brown was one of the best. Equal parts empathy, aesthetic balance and technical ingenuity, Brown’s approach to designing public housing was ambitious: the creation of beautiful, practical homes and neighbourhoods for ordinary Londoners. Undoubtedly the finest example of Brown’s vision is his celebrated Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate, which addresses the innate human need for room to breathe. Through my collections I hope to do the same—create beautiful, practical clothing with room to breathe for ordinary people with an emphasis on freedom—layers have been cut for maximum slouch, reinterpreting the language of volume by giving the wearer room to breathe and express themselves.
A lot of our collections, particularly menswear, are steeped in cultural references. Our first ever menswear collection was heavily inspired by David Byrne of Talking Heads. Drawing from esoteric cultural references, collections gather core recognisable items to indispensable contemporary archetypal garments. When we think about core recognisable garments, of wardrobe classics that never seem to veer off track, then the trench coat is definitely a significant player. Timeless and sophisticated, it suits everyone regardless of shape or size and the Columbo-referenced gabardine always makes an appearance in our collections.
How do your British roots inform the brand, and how do you balance that with other influences such as Japanese culture? Nick – We make a fair amount of product in the UK and provenance is important to us being a British Brand.
What’s Studio Nicholson’s design process like?Nick - Can you describe the approach it takes to engineering products? Oh wow, it’s a really lengthy process involving the design team, the production & development team, and our merchandiser. It takes 6 – 7 months from start to finish.
Do you take a different approach when it comes to menswear vs. womenswear? Nick - Not really, most of our collections are steeped in cultural references. Drawing from esoteric cultural references regardless of gender, collections gather core recognisable items to indispensable contemporary archetypal garments. When we think about core recognisable garments, of wardrobe classics that never seem to veer off track, then the trench coat is definitely a significant player. Timeless and sophisticated, it suits everyone regardless of shape or size and the Columbo-referenced gabardine always makes an appearance in our collections.
What kind of feelings are you trying to evoke with your designs? Nick – peace, power and a strong sense of fun.
The fabrication the brand uses is incredible. What’s the process like when searching for new materials?Nick - I have been working with same Italian mills for a very long time. They understand what we believe in as a brand.
What are three @’s you subscribe to? @dasswerke
Can you give us an insight into the latest collection hitting incu.com – what can people expect? Acclimatising to the reality of post-lockdown living requires positive change. This unique situation has forced us all to pause and reflect on how we must adapt to survive. A slower pace has afforded founder and creative director Nick Wakeman the time to consider the successes of Studio Nicholson’s last decade and focus on the roots of the brand.
The Spring and Summer collections come into sharp focus with a strong sense of resilience, responsibility and long-term functionality. A distillation of the modular wardrobe, This new balance signals a shift towards pieces that can be worn in more ways than one; an air of inventiveness, a new way of future-proofing the continuity classics favoured by the loyal Studio Nicholson community. Resort 21 takes a risk and reflects our new attitude; it’s a clean-cut calculation that places fabrication, fit and fundamental quality at the core. Leather has been introduced to expand on the theory of age-old luxury, providing an entirely new texture and elevated patina. It’s time to revisit the founding principles and put energy into purposeful, playful longevity. Attuned to the new world, it’s a time for everyone to invest in less – but better.
What’s in the works for the brand in 2021? Nick – A second London store, the launch of our bags and SLG’s line & a full mens and womens shoe collection by the end of the year. Its busy.