Nicholas Daley: “Central Saint Martins taught me design, Nigel Cabourn taught me how to produce”

We caught up with the British designer before the launch of his latest collection, inspired by the South Asian fabric jute

While graduating in 2013, British designer Nicholas Daley has made waves that reach as far as Japan.

After leaving Central Saint Martins he did a stint at Nigel Cabourn and Hardy Amies of Savile Row. His interests lie in British subcultures and traditional craft. For his debut collection for spring/summer 2015, Daley looked to reggae and punk for inspiration and even had Don Letts model the clothes. For each season, Daley collaborates with an artist to produce a mixtape – highlighting the link between style and music.

All Nicholas Daley garments are produced within the UK. He works with traditional English manufacturers such as Vanners Silk Weavers and Christy’s London – making use of their age-old methods.

Daley’s mix of subculture with traditional techniques caught the attention of the Japanese market through stockists such as International Gallery Beams, and magazines including Eyescream, Popeye, Grind and Brutus.

For spring/summer 2017, Daley was inspired by jute, a fabric imported from South Asia under the British Empire and pioneered by Scottish milliners in Dundee. In ‘Juteopolis’, Daley mixes jute with Irish linens and Scottish waxed cottons, creating a collection that is both culturally and texturally diverse. For its launch, we caught up with Daley to hear more.

Multiculturalism is a key aspect to your work. Could you tell us a little about your background and upbringing?

I was brought up in Leicestershire with a Scottish mother and a Jamaican father. Leicester is one of the most diverse cities in the UK and I feel this has had a natural influence on how I approach my work. My parents also were very open minded and we had many people from different backgrounds and cultures in my life. 

What was it like working with Nigel Cabourn?

I learned a lot from my time there. It was important to see how a niche menswear brand operated. Also, to see how to work and deal with British-based manufacturers; Central Saint Martins taught me how to design but Nigel taught me how to produce. 

Your new collection ‘Juteopolis’ explores your family’s involvement with jute. How does the way you used this fibre differ from your ancestors?

I found out new details about my Scottish ancestry during my time in Dundee. I think people see jute as a fairly mundane fabric but its usage throughout the decades is an interesting story. I used jute in more unconventional ways to try and redefine it.

You’ve gained a lot of attention from Japan. What is it about your work and British style in general that they gravitate towards?

The Japanese have supported my brand from the start of my career, when International Gallery Beams bought my graduate collection. I feel that the Japanese consumer appreciates the value of handmade garments, made from good quality fabrics – two key elements of my design and production process. Traditional British design and heritage menswear have always been popular with the Japanese market, and I feel that my generation of designers are providing a new take on this.

Music strongly resonates with you. Every season you work with an artist to produce a mixtape. Could you speak a bit more about this?

I feel that collaborating with other creatives is always an important thing to do. Music and fashion go hand in hand, so it felt like a natural thing to do to translate my work in other media formats.

The first mixtape I did was with DJ and radio presenter Don Letts and my favourite mixtape was with music producer, DJ and radio presenter Throwing Shade. I've also hosted a couple of parties in Tokyo and Paris with some of my favourite local DJs as a way of further strengthening the relationship between music and my label.

Nicholas Daley's Juteopolis collection is out now at Dover Street Market and The Bureau Belfast