​meet the exciting new name in menswear, nicholas daley

The London-based designer has gone from Saint Martins alum to Dover Street Market shopboy to being picked up by some of fashion’s best boutiques.

by Lynette Nylander
04 December 2015, 9:45am

Leicester-born, London based Nicholas Daley turns collisions of culture into collections that have seen the young designer go from Saint Martins alum, to Dover Street Market shopboy to being picked up by some of fashion's best boutiques. His spring/summer 16 collection, entitled First Beat uses African music and documentary photography from Seydou Keïta as a basis of his menswear which is an impressive showing of separates, reminiscent of the Buffalo style made popular in the 1980s by the likes of Ray Petri and Barry Kamen. The 25-year-old is a menswear name on the rise so we caught up with him to talk how his past and present view of a multi-cultural Britain informs his clothes.

What was it like growing up in Leicester?

Leicester is a very diverse and multicultural place. There is such a variety of people from all over the world such as Sikh, Somali and Caribbean all have thriving communities. I grew up in multi-cultural Britain for sure. There is always a great atmosphere in Leicester town centre during the Hindu celebration Diwali, it all goes down! I think even from an early age growing up there, it was great for seeing a variety of cultures which without question have helped influence my perspective and vision. 

Tell us a bit about your spring/summer 16 lookbook...

Myself and Champ magazine created a look book together for International Gallery Beams in Japan, who are one of my biggest stockists. I'm lucky enough to have a really good relationship with the Beams Japan team, which started when they initially decided to buy into my Central Saint Martins collection. The look book turned out really well but we only made a limited run of copies because each look book was handmade. Stephen Mann [the stylist] has been helping me since CSM, as I feel he understands what I'm trying to get at and gets the best out of my clothing. We are hopefully going to continue to work together again next season.

What are you trying to do with your spring/summer 16 collection?

The theme for my spring/summer 16 collection took references from the multiculturalism of my local community in Tottenham, and in particular the West African community in my local neighborhood. It was this, together with images of photographer Seydou Keïta which formed the basis of my SS16 collection.
I took quintessential pieces such as the African bubu and dashiki, and then created my own interpretation which can be worn for today's man. The time I spent working at Dover Street Market was a great learning experience. I noticed that sometimes you see massive shifts in some designers' influences and style but I feel that I work at a slightly slower pace. I want to be known as progressive, like that one trouser cut that you could identify as a Nicholas Daley piece, and each season you build and perfect it. I like the consistency of that. All the designers that I like - Yohji Yamamoto, Christopher Nemeth - they're never changing, you don't even have to think about it. You just see that silhouette whether it's Autumn/Winter 14 or 1994, their collections are still harmonised and I want to be one of those designers that has true message that can span over 20 years.

What other designers inspired you when you were younger?

The first designer that I'd heard of was Paul Smith because I'm from the Midlands and he is too. He's always had that very strong message about what he's trying to convey. So I interned there for six months and just being part of the studio, it was interesting to see how a slightly larger corporation works and how different the approach is. The other designer which I have always had huge amount of admiration for is Yohji Yamamoto. His approach and philosophy is something which I have always admired, and of course he has created some amazing garments.

 You have the likes of Don Letts model your clothes in the past. Do you consciously think about who models your clothes?

Having Don Letts modelling for me was important as it helped in intertwining the past and the present of our cultural history. Even for my graduate collection I knew I didn't want to use the school models- I just thought to myself 'it's not gonna work, I gotta get all my own guys.' I just look for people who can translate my designs and make sense of what the collection's theme is. I suppose I try to create a contrast from the generic image of what the fashion industry deems as the correct model archetype. 

One of the other inspirations for this collection is the African communities around where you live… 

For about five years now I've been living in Tottenham, near the West Green Road which is a very lively place. In terms of the type of character and the different cultures, it's not far off what Kingsland Road used to be. Although Bellway Homes keep appearing on the horizon and they're changing all the shop fronts -- trying to make it the new Hackney. But the area is just a sponge really. You see such a variety of different people who live there. The collection is called First Beat because in African culture there is the Djembe drum, which was taken from West Africa and brought to the Caribbean and was a big influence in Caribbean music especially Reggae. I'm still influenced by my Caribbean roots, but also looking at the bigger picture of how Africa and the Caribbean collide. 

What are some of things you have found hard about establishing your own label?

Well finance is obviously a really big issue for everyone. I am in no rush - I don't want to be in 30 outlets or 30 retailers by the end of next year. I'd rather work with smaller independent retailers who understand it and actually get behind the brand. Having Hostem picking me up for Spring is incredible. It's my first UK stockist, and they have been so supportive. Hopefully l will be doing events and pop ups with them in the future seasons to come. 

What are your plans for the future?

Japan is my main market at the moment. Having such a great store like Beams as my first big stockist has been amazing. They recently held a a two-week installation with the my AW15 garments and published the AW15 newsprint I did in collaboration with Champ Studio. More stores in Japan are picking up my brand and I will be going to Paris in January and presenting my latest AW16 collection. It's all a process of developing but I would like to stay true to what I've already shown so far.

Nicholas Daley spring/summer 16 will be available at Hostem in London.


Text Lynette Nylander
Photography Iain Anderson
Styling Stephen Mann

nicholas daley