nick wooster, from street style star to fashion designer
Introducing 55-year-old menswear retailer-turned-designer Nickelson ‘Nick’ Wooster. Known to street style photographers around the world for his sharp tailoring, handlebar moustache, and elegant arm sleeve tattoos.
In an inspiring twist on its annual Bright Young Things scheme, iconic British department store Selfridges has cast its net much wider this year. Instead of handpicking 14 bright eyed and bushy tailed youths from the worlds of fashion, art, music and design, the store - whose previous alumni has included designers Simone Rocha and Astrid Andersen - has set its sights on a new crop of exciting talent within the older generation. As the campaign kicked off yesterday, with the unveiling of 14 individually designed store windows, representing each of the Bright Old Things, we caught up with one the brightest among them. Introducing 55-year-old menswear retailer-turned-designer Nickelson 'Nick' Wooster. Known to street style photographers around the world for his sharp tailoring, handlebar moustache, and elegant arm sleeve tattoos, Nick had worked for over 25 years in the retail business before realizing his lifelong dream of becoming a designer. Collaborating with Italian tailoring brand Lardini, his first collection is available exclusively at Selfridges, and can be seen in all its sartorial glory in Nick's very own window display at the Oxford Street flagship store.
Where did you grow up?
Salina, Kansas. Very Mid-western. Very wholesome. Not sure how I landed here.
How long have you been a designer?
I've actually spent half of my career as a merchant, and the other half as a design director/creative director working for other people such as Ralph Lauren, John Bartlett, Byblos and commercial brands in the US like Splendid and J C Penney. It was never my plan to do something on my own.
When did you first dream of designing on your own?
It occurred to me when I was a buyer, that I would actually like to make a product rather than buy it...but it was never exactly my dream to have my own brand.
Why become a designer now?
Quite simply, I was asked. I was consulting with the Lardini company and they suggested a collaboration.
You've worked in menswear retail up until now, constantly selling other people's designs, how does that differ from being a designer?
In the end, it's exactly the same. Regardless of where you are in the process, you are still in the business of selling stuff. Some people choose the colour and the fabric; some people choose what pieces go on the floor. But the ultimate goal for every person is to sell something.
How does it feel that you can now call yourself a designer?
I don't know, because I don't refer to myself as one. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to put a lot of skills to work, which I have acquired over the years...and I get the opportunity to work with really nice people. That is the best part.
How would you describe your personal style?
Peaky Blinders meets Miss Selfridge
Has it changed over the years?
Of course it has. What hasn't changed is my obsession with clothes. Some people collect things. I just collect clothes.
What about your aesthetic as a designer?
It's a bit like a DJ... I like to sample a lot of stuff and hopefully that result is unique.
Who do you design for? Yourself? A particular client/age group?
I design exactly for my closet, things I would like to own.
How did you first get involved with the Bright Old Things initiative?
I was invited in the fall...I keep finding myself in this incredible position to get to say yes.
What does it mean to you to be a part of it?
I think it's hilarious, and a brilliant concept. It's funny that the older I get the easier it is for me to accept life. If this had happened to me 20 or 30 years ago I am sure it would have ended in tears.
How would you describe your window display and how do you think it captures your character?
I think [hope] that it first and foremost does what a window should do...sell clothes and showcase some product. As I haven't seen it yet all I can do is keep my fingers crossed.
If you could give the younger you one piece of advice what would it be and why?
Don't quit before the miracle.You never know what's around the corner and I know that I wouldn't be here without all of the hard work that I have done before this moment.
What things have you been able to do now that you weren't able to do when you were younger?
The economics work better now. But I also think that's the job of young people...to be poor and figure it out. My twenties were during the 80s in New York and it was bonkers. I didn't have that much money, but I had a REALLY good time.
Growing old means…
Michael Kors says that growing old isn't for sissies. I think he has a point.
Text Tish Weinstock