nicola formichetti talks harajuku icons, tumblr tales and nicopanda
As he takes Nicopanda to the next level with it’s first ready-to-wear collection, we talk to Diesel’s artistic director about his own personal project.
When he's not #REBOOT-ing denim superbrand Diesel, searching for the next it-kid on Tumblr or hanging out at Tokyo's hallowed shopping emporium Laforet, Nicola Formichetti is knuckling down on his own personal project, Nicopanda. Born out of his love for the colourful metropolis of Harajuku and the huge rainbow of subcultures that thrive there from the Lolita's to the Cosplayers, Nicopanda was a cult cartoon collection of baseball caps and panda ears. Last year however, Nicola announced his first ready-to-wear, unisex collection for the line, turning it into a fully-fledged fashion label, throwing rose pinks, baby blues, bows, frills and neoprene into his magical blender. It's all the most kawaii parts of Harajuku, mixed with the best of New York streetwear and the punkest parts of London. As the 70 piece collection lands in Opening Ceremony, we catch some downtime with the baddest panda in town…
Why did you decide to make a full collection this year?
Nicopanda only existed online really… mainly on Tumblr. I made a few graphic T-shirts and some rings, but it wasn't anything serious, purely for fun. There was a big demand from my fans so I decided to do it properly.
Can you describe it in 5 words?
High low kawaii. Panda tribe.
What elements of downtown New York did you inject into it?
It's where I live so I obviously get inspired by my surroundings and also people downtown, and mainly kids that work for me, my Nicopanda tribe.
Who can you see wearing it?
It's unisex so I don't have anyone in particular when I'm designing, its any kind of occasion too…its for people who are FREE spirited and wants to have fun.
Who are your favourite Harajuku icons?
Hirari Ikeda is one of my favourite girls. She wears Nicopanda too.
Who would be your all-time ideal line-up to star in a Nicopanda campaign?
I love using people who are different, currently I'm obsessed with this boy Candy Ken and this crazy Japanese woman called Vanilla who looks like a French doll.
What are your favourite Japanese youth cultures?
I love Harajuku culture, I've been part of this since I was a teenager, hanging out in Laforet etc. It's always fun and colorful.
Why do you think these youth tribes have all come out of Tokyo?
Because we love dressing up and being different, there are also so many amazing vintage stores there that it's easier to be part of it.
Do you think you'd be a part of any of them if you lived in Japan?
I am already! I'm in Japan every few months.
Do you think they'll be adopted anywhere else in the world?
Its difficult to leave Harajuku but I know that in Korea and China there are very similar tribes, I would love to see that in London and New York.
Who's your favourite animé character?
I love Chibi Maruko.
What are your top Tumblr's?
What music are you listening to at the moment?
I'm currently listen to all my favourite computer game soundtracks again, like Dragon Quest's orchestra soundtrack is so good. Also I'm working with Brooke Candy on her new album so Brooke Candy all the way! It's so good.
Text Felicity Kinsella