Nick Wooster is the reigning king of street style, a muse, designer, decorator, retailer, collaborator—he’s done a lot in a lot of different fields.
Nick Wooster is a forerunner. The Man from the Future as his millions of followers worldwide love to call him, the man who loves change and who already in the ‘eighties grokked the significance of giving a world to his customers of Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, the two giants of luxury Made in USA.
With a precision haircut worthy of a manga artist’s pencil, and likewise the white-white total-precision beard, he dresses slim-line jackets with pocket squares with the nonchalance of he who has carried the preppy style beyond fashion and time, adored at the Fashion Weeks by hordes of followers just dying for a photo for their blog, a selfie or simply a word.
American Nick Wooster is the symbol of the street style revolution that changed the face of men’s fashion — not to mention its market. British shoes, bare ankles, tattooed arms, sunglasses and that bruiser swagger, in truth he’s an absolute Mr nice guy, typical of a true mid-westerner. In short, he’s the man who defined a (rare) form of American dress sense.
Today he’s the designer of his own brand and numerous others. We met up with him between Milan and Paris, to formulate the formula of elegance in our evolving society.
F.1.M. : In your opinion , how has the concept of elegance from the ninenties to today and what remained unchanged?
Nick Wooster: I think elegance, like style or taste is both fixed and always evolving. There are always certain rules or fundamentals that apply and will always be true. And sometimes how we perceive something may truly change. With that said, I think elegance is like porn. You know it when you see it. What is actually very interesting is that the idea of the 90’s is very much a trend. I think there is a movement toward slightly oversized silhouettes.
F.1.M. : How do you maintain consistency over time?
N.W: I have always been passionate about clothes. Therefore, what I am interested in has always been the same.
F.1.M. : What has this economist crisis taught fashion?
N.W: I thought many things would change during the crisis of 2008. Instead, things seemed to become even more chained to the past. Specifically, I am thinking about the outdated idea that anyone wants to start buying fall clothes in the middle of the summer. This is absolutely stupid. It’s hot everywhere in July—why would anyone want to think about, or buy, cashmere or shearling when it is 100 degrees outside? Everyone speaks about social media creating this idea that consumers want something the second they see it on their phone. This may be partly true, but when people want something new, it’s because the clothes in the stores or in magazines, don’t line up with the weather outside.
Now that we don’t have to go to a store to buy things, and we can shop from the comfort of our home, it will force the strong to get stronger and the weak will go away. This is true for stores and for publications.
F.1.M. : How do you cultivate the culture of a brand? And how do you convey it?
N.W: It takes many ingredients to change the culture of a brand. For many of us, this is a lifetime of work. There are no easy answers. The question that has to be asked and answered is: “What is the story”. Everyone today is in the content business. Each individual Instagram account is like a magazine. Those with the most interesting story will be the most successful. Everyone in the fashion ecosystem: brands, publications and retail outlets are constantly trying to answer this fundamental question. Tom Ford made it look easy, but I know that he will tell you the same thing I will tell you—it is very difficult to do.
F.1.M. : What ‘s the meaning of “heritage” for you ? What does it mean for you facing heritage in general?
N.W: Heritage implies history. I think in menswear this is very important. But we can’t be too much of a slave to the past. The very notions of right and wrong, new or old, are changing right before our eyes.
In the aughts and early teens of this century, there was a very big movemnt of “heritage”. It was the idea of something authentic and American. I think there has always been this idea in menswear. But today it is less important. We are in a period of modernism. Old is not interesting to anyone. Old concepts need to be rethought. It might be something familiar, it’s just that the context is changing.
F.1.M. : When did your love with fashion start?
N.W: As soon as I was able to dress myself. Long before I went to school. I was very opinionated about clothes from the minute I could be. That’s probably why I enjoyed school. It was an opporunity to wear clothes and to experiment.
F.1.M. : How do you approach a collection?
N.W: I approach designing a collection, exactly the same way I do anythhing in life. I look for the easiest and smartest solution to the problem at hand. Sometimes it’s simple…other times less so. Inspiration always comes from research. I’m always thinking about what I want, that I don’t currently have.
F.1.M. : How do you cope with emotion?
N.W: Probably by shopping more.
F.1.M. : Any muse?
N.W: I don’t have any muses. But I do pay attention. I am always observing people, on the street, in movies, at airports, in magazines. I think that is where all inspiration comes from—paying attention.
F.1.M. : How would you define elegance?
N.W: According to a google search, one definition of elegance is the quality of being pleasingly ingenious and simple; neatness. I like the simplicity part. It implies that one doesn’t and shouldn’t try too hard. For me, elegance is the smartest and most simple solution.