This year was the debut year for Ada + Nik. A delicious, beautifully fashionable menswear brand, which we told you about before. Clean can tell you a nice story about the brand but I think there are two persons who can do this better than we can. We give the word to Ada and Nik to tell us about their collaboration, their solo projects and which teenage star they want to dress up in their clothes. Please, let us introduce to you: Ada + Nik.
Women’s first, Ada tell me when did you realise the first time you had passion for fashion?
When I was a very small child, about 6 years old and I discovered Vogue magazine whilst in the supermarket with my mum – I opened it to have a look – didn’t want to put it down…. My mother was not keen to buy a fashion magazine for a small child so I did what any small child would do…. I had a tantrum and lay on the floor screaming until she bought it for me. I don’t lie on the floor and scream anymore but essentially the level of passion has remained at a constant level since.
Your catwalk debut was in 2009, could you describe the difference between how you felt five minutes before the show then and now?
I always feel exactly the same five minutes before the show – OUT OF CONTROL EXCITEMENT! I thought it would change but it doesn’t. I think I feel that feeling also when I show people a film I have made, when I talk to students, when I am delivering a commission, delivering to a store – I’m just thrilled to see that moment when dreams become reality and go beyond me and into the world.
It’s amazing how you combine illustrations in your collections. We were wondering what was your first love; making illustrations or design clothes? When did you start combing these two?
I think when I was a child I was really interested in silhouette and shapes – I loved origami. When I started to refine and find my illustration style – I was a teenager and then that really came into its own when I did my art foundation course at Kingston. So I guess from then on I started to evolve and explore taking my illustrations and bringing them together with my silhouettes. Now for my womenswear, my greatest desire is to express my passion for endangered species and the environment through beautiful illustrations which I turn into prints, embroideries and embellishments. I want to really engage the imagination and the senses and flatter the female form.
The Ada + Nik print process is different – Nik and I collaborate (telepathically express) our ideas. The concept of the print is more a reflection of the experience of masculinity. I love our SS14 print because we used photography to create something that visually expresses that meeting of strength and vulnerability crushing together.
If we gave you an unlimited budget for the next collection, what can we expect?
UNLIMITED? If we had an unlimited budget then you could expect everything from 3D printing, to a shirt that could do your accounts for you whilst you sip a cocktail… however – we will be unlimited with our ideas that is for sure. With SS14 I think we have introduced who we are, the Ada + Nik man is a modern day Gladiator – A Game of Thrones mentality with a hyper modern luxe edge. Our Greco Roman Punk character is unapologetically masculine with a fearless sexual appeal and I think our capsule concept will now really broaden with Autumn Winter and explore this realm much further.
How about you Nik, tell us about the first time you came in touch with fashion?
Looking back on it now, I had what you could describe as a “unique” style as a child and teenager. It was a complete mess, but I used to experiment a lot with silhouettes – even if it was oversized jeans that used to drag on the floor and soak up the rain water from the ground. Since then, it has evolved into something that is more identifiable and recognisable. Over the last few years, I’ve had the honour of working with some really big industry names and as my public profile has grown, my look has become more refined.
People love you, that’s clear, but I think a lot of people don’t even know how much hard work you do. Can you take us on a working day with you?
Wow, thank you! I don’t like to be THAT person that bangs on about how much they work. In my 6 or so years in the industry, I feel like I have been working double time which has resulted in something like 12 years of experience, but the same goes for anyone that I admire or look up to. Take Karl Lagerfeld for example, he once said. “My thing is to work more than the others to show them how useless they are.”
No single day is ever the same – they can be studio based, on set for a shoot, from a make-shift office (i.e. my laptop) on the Eurostar or even the gym on my iPhone. I tend to spread work out over the day, so sometimes I am up until 5am because I have spent the whole day without access to a computer.
This year you became a judge on Fashion One (Sky), how was the experience going from a blogger to a television personality?
I’ve never described myself as a blogger. KARL IS MY UNKLE is essentially just one of my digital platforms with a combination of curated and original content. It’s popular because I have a taste and talent to showcase elements of pop culture that people appreciate. It’s all positive energy with a mutual appreciation of creativity that I share with my readers. Taking it to the small screen was an amazing experience, I’ve done TV work with the likes of MTV, Sky, BBC etc. so it is something that I want to continue to do – but essentially it just serves as an alternative platform – plus I’m not gonna lie, I do like being on camera.
You are literally everywhere; behind the laptop, on television, in front of the camera, in the designer room. Is there anything you can’t do but really want to?
I’m a classically trained pianist and vocalist, and would love to create some original music like Jean Paul Gaultier did with “How To Do That”, no matter how much in denial he is of that fact! In all seriousness, I get to work with some amazing artists – Zebra Katz, VV Brown, Natalia Kills, Karin Park – I even consulted recently for a MAJOR MAJOR pop megastar, so my involvement with the industry is always going to be there.
What I really want to do is direct a feature film. I have a vision for it already, it’s just a matter of finding the time.
Let’s talk about Ada + Nik. Who came up with the idea to work together? Can you tell us how Ada + Nik became the brand it is now?
It was really organic. Ada and I have shared a mutual appreciation for each others’ work for many years, so when launching a men’s wear brand came up in conversation, it felt really natural to be doing it together. We were at dinner in January and I asked Ada when she was going to design men’s wear, her response was “when you do it with me”. The rest is history.
In terms of creative vision, we shared it from the outset. Our minds are totally in synch and have been on this entire journey. I can’t express in words how incredible that is – to truly share one vision for something. I’ve never had that with anyone before. We’re still in such an early stage, so we’re totally honoured that there has been so much positive reception and genuine excitement from the industry and fans.
The launch of your brand couldn’t be bigger, the film premiered on Hunger and the collection was shown at the London Collections: Men. Already fantasied on how to premiere next season’s collection?
Hell yes, but you will just have to wait and see. We’ve got a few ideas of what we are going to do, I’m really excited about January. The next collection is a sensible evolution of the brand, maintaining the same integrity but growing at the same time.
Speaking about the film, can you tell us how you came up with the idea for the concept Nik?
As with anything, there were a lot of changes, but the roots of the idea and the brand were always based in Greco-Roman culture with a modernistic 80s nod to British punk heritage. I’ve always had a fascination with the Greek Gods and wanted to imagine what it would be like on Mount Olympus but with everyone dressed in our collection. A narrative was really important to me, I wanted to tell a story, but nothing too pretentious. It’s all quite tongue in cheek. I wrote it and then Thomas Knights and I story boarded it together.
And how was it to work with the extremely talented Thomas Knights?
I adore Thomas. He’s a “slasher” just like me. Both of us are multi-talented in a sense, and work across different mediums, so we have a lot of mutual understanding and synergy. He is one of the hardest working people I know in the industry and a good friend.
The debut collection was all about leather, black and simple luxury. Can we see any of these elements coming back? What can we expect from the next collection?
Oh completely. As I said, it will be natural evolution, the main themes will still be there. Minimalist luxury is everything to me, and maintaining a timeless nature and creating timeless pieces that someone can still wear 50 or 100 years from now.
We already spotted Miguel in Ada + Nik. If it’s up to you two, who would you choose to wear the brand?
James Franco and Jared Leto.
Teenage stars Selena Gomez, One Direction and Miley Cyrus are calling the office. They want you to design their clothes for a new photoshoot. You can only pick one, who would be the lucky one?
Ada: Obviously Selena Gomez! But of course I say that as a women’s wear designer… I would love to see One Direction wearing Ada + Nik.
Nik: I am all about Selena Gomez. I think she is the most incredibly beautiful person and so talented. Stars Dance is one of my favourite albums of the year so far. I also think Miley is playing the game extremely well. I’m excited to hear her collaboration with Lil Kim and she looks super sexy in men’s wear.
It’s up to you which photographer is going to shoot the new look book for Ada + Nik, no limits. Who can expect the call?
My friend Mariano Vivanco. I’d also have loved Herb Ritts, rest in peace or Sally Mann. Also, I’d love to see Ellen Von Unwerth’s take on our collection. So many too choose from!
Clean loves music, can you both name your favourite artist all time and your favourite new artist?
Ada: I love Grace Jones and Kylie Minogue – they have made music that I have listened to for most of my life so far – but this year is all about Karin Park – Highwire Poetry.
Nik: I’m very excited about the release of my friend Natalia Kills’ second album Trouble, but my favourite all time is probably Elliott Smith.
Last one, what would you like to say to everyone who thinks they don’t need an Ada + Nik item in their wardrobe?
That’s fine. It’s not for everyone. I believe in experimentation and pushing personal boundaries, Ada + Nik has a traditional aesthetic with a subversive twist. It’s for a man (and woman) who is pioneering and confident. We want to inspire people to be themselves and make bold choices, if someone chooses to wear us, then we’re honoured, but we acknowledge that it isn’t for every man. We’re not trying to be generic.