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An interview with Nick Wakeman, founder of Studio Nicholson

To coincide with our collaboration with Studio Nicholson, we caught up with brand founder Nick Wakeman 

For our Sunspel and Studio Nicholson collaboration, we combined our fabric expertise with Studio Nicholson’s modern, relaxed silhouettes. Wardrobe staples including hoodies, sweatshirts and track pants were reinvented with looser fits, while we created new fabrics including a cotton fleece and a comfort stretch jersey, resulting in an exceptionally crafted, considered collection.

The process involved sitting down with Studio Nicholson founder, Nick Wakeman, whose love of fabric made working with Sunspel a no-brainer. We caught up with her recently to discuss her inspirations, the idea behind the collaboration, and her love of Japanese architecture.                                                   

How would you describe Studio Nicholson clothing to someone new to the brand?

Functionality, modernity and playfulness are the elements we believe in as a brand, and they are the foundations of each collection. I believe that Studio Nicholson’s magic lies in making the everyday and commonplace garment exceptionally beautiful and flawlessly modern.

I am infatuated with the idea of the ordinary and conventional in place of any kind of fantasy. Studio Nicholson offers womenswear, menswear and accessories for everyday wear in the highest quality of fabrics.

What is it about Sunspel that made you want to collaborate?

Sunspel have a beautiful British heritage story and supreme choices of jersey. Teaming up with the experts was a no-brainer for Studio Nicholson.

What’s the idea behind the Sunspel and Studio Nicholson collection?

To create a capsule of elevated jersey separates, each with a clear place and purpose within the modular wardrobe. We approached every element with the same reverence as a woven garment – incorporating attitude with elevated, well-fitting shapes and the persistent pursuit of the ideal fit. These are definite silhouettes – and have been designed to be worn together, in sets.

You’ve previously described your design process as being all about the fabric. Where did your love of fabric come from?

My Mother made all my clothes from day dot. By age 3 I had opinions and by age 6 I was very sure about what fabric and pattern I wanted from the local cloth shop. I used to sit drawing ideas, and my mum would go make it. She’s trained as an interior designer, and she loves fabric. She really loves it. She gets really excited about it and that definitely rubbed off on me. My obsession with fabrics and fascination with the sensible and clean tailoring of menswear ultimately drive the aesthetic of Studio Nicholson womenswear.

What are your biggest design inspirations outside of clothing?

Architecture is something that I constantly draw inspiration from. The sign of a good architect is really caring about the people who will live in the buildings they 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 - addressing 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. Our Pre-Fall 20 collection has 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.

Has the way you dress changed in the past year?

Not hugely because at Studio Nicholson it’s always been important to create modern essentials that work hard in anyone’s wardrobe. Now more than ever this is of high importance, with everyone having a slightly slower pace of life, and working from home more.

The desire to wear pieces that are comfortable yet stylish, easy to wear and most importantly timeless, goes for both menswear and womenswear. The Nicholson persona is someone who wants to look sophisticated in an effortless way by wearing well-cut, timeless pieces made in high quality fabrics. There is always a subtle elegance.

The Studio Nicholson collection has been well received in Japan. Are you able to provide some insight into why Studio Nicholson resonates so strongly with a Japanese customer?

I am a minimalist at heart and a lot of my designs are inspired by post-modern Japanese architecture. My favourite architect is Tadao Ando, who places a great deal of importance on creating and preserving space, an element I try to weave into my own pieces. I want people to feel free and powerful when they wear a Studio Nicholson garment.

I have a natural affinity with Japan; I love the order and adore the old and new culture clash.  Japanese designers Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo are two of my biggest creative idols, and I’ve always been inspired by Japanese textiles and fabric too, especially Japanese denim.

Japan and other East Asian countries now make up a big percentage of Studio Nicholson’s customer base. I think they look to us for the quality and that inherent playful thread that runs through the collections, which is what we do. Even though it’s elegant, it’s got a playful element that they seem to understand.

To view the full Sunspel and Studio Nicholson collection, click here

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