Nicholas Daley reimagines British heritage
28 Feb 2022
Space for Ideas winner, Nicholas Daley, launched his eponymous label in 2015 after graduating from Central Saint Martins — and has been something of a wunderkind ever since. If the best art is personal, Daley’s brought a new vision of heritage to the landscape of British fashion, and made it all the more beautiful in the process.
Daley’s designs draw from his own heritage, Scottish and Jamaican, pulling references from the multicultural influences of British music history from reggae to punk. Each piece is crafted in the UK, working closely with local artisans for bespoke textiles and finishes.
As the winner of the Appear Here’s Space for Ideas competition, Daley and his team have played host to the work of artists and musicians of all cultures in his new shop in Soho, London.
For the design of the Greek Street space, Daley has brought together fragments from all sides of British culture: from knitted rugs to Indian stools, aiming to upcycle many materials. The space is also his first-ever shop, showcasing Daley’s garments, samples and exclusive one-off pieces.
We caught up with David Shaw and Isabel Cox, the team over at Barrows Global Retail design agency who collaborated with Daley to bring the experience to life in London. “It’s like a treasure trove of eclectic and interesting items,” said Shaw, the design lead on the project of the new shop. “The array of textures and variety of items to look at, touch and discover, work so well in complimenting Nicholas Daley's brand and style.”
Can you take me back to your first chats with Nicholas Daley and his team? What was the initial vision of the creative brief?
When we initially got the brief, it was all pre-Covid. We were supposed to be landing the shop literally within a month or two of us going into full lockdown. So as we were working, suddenly everything had to get put on hold, but that didn't really stop Nicholas Daley and his team from knowing what they were after. There was always the thought in the back of their head that we would always be coming out of this.
What became very apparent early on is Nicholas loves this sort of community vibe, which he tried to embody in everything he does. He really wanted everything to be about this sort of homey living room feel, people coming into the space to just feel comfortable as if you're walking into your own battered living room that's been lived in and enjoyed and loved.
Do you think the experience of the pandemic - of all of us being in our own little worlds for nearly two years - has at all informed this project or changed your ideas of shared community or physicality?
It's probably heightened it. It's made it more important. I think during lockdown, everybody still wanted to go out, but they just weren't able to. But really, people like to be social. People like to go to these spaces. People like to explore. They love the tactileness, the smells, everything else that you can get out of physical spaces that you can't in a digital world.
When someone enters the new space, what will they see? What will they hear? How should it feel?
Enjoy the music, enjoy the relaxation. Browse the clothing, but also enjoy the art, feel the immersion of the whole space and explore. It was very much about sort of looking around every nook and cranny. Nicholas and his creative partner Lucas gave us lots of references to shops they've been into in New York and Tokyo, which had this sort of vintage retro feel. And with these cluttered areas of exploration with stuff piled up high in this very sort of homey-type way. So you have got lots of really lovely inspiration from them.
I think discovery is also a big part of that, like being able to spend time in the space but discover certain things. So whether it's a montage of photographs or discovering different spaces, exploration was key.
Music seems to be a central inspiration for Nicholas Daley's brand - will the space reflect that at all? Did you have to think about acoustics within the space?
Music was always a part of the design process. It was very key. One of the first things Nicholas said was, “I want a big sound system.” The selling of products was always there in the background, but it wasn't the main thing. He wanted his community to come in and sit down, relax, and enjoy the experience. That could have been through poetry, live music, DJs. When you look back at all of the activations Nicholas has done in the past, music is at the centre of this because it pulls people together.
The space has quite a lot of soft furnishings, which obviously helps with the acoustics. We didn't leave it as a big empty, echoing space. We placed things on the walls. And as with any home that you have these furnishings in, it just softens the noise.
You’ve spoken a lot about the importance of fostering community in this new space. What kind of community do you and the Nicholas Daley team hope to attract to the new space?
The type of community is definitely not one dimensional. The space should of course appeal to the fashion community. At the end of the day, those are the products that he makes. But I think it’s also his own community, his comrades and friends. As part of this process, we have been connecting with a lot of his network to see if they could come on board, whether it's supplying some of the plants in the space, or the furniture. Even the sound system or the people playing music in the space. It’s his own friends from life that are coming to DJ. He knows the poet that will potentially be there. So it really is about reaching out to everyone involved in producing, and giving them a platform and a place as well.
The new space will be right in central Soho on Greek Street - for you, what’s the significance of this neighbourhood and how do you see it complementing the Nicholas Daley story?
Nicholas was very, very keen on Soho, right from the start. That's where he wanted to be. Soho is one of London's traditional creative hubs. It's a location within London that you can still stumble across these hidden gems of shops. It's all small little old buildings rather than big, expansive retail spaces.
It's the ideal place for these sort of small independent retail spaces because it's in the part of town where people are in that exploration mode. And I think that does complement his brand completely.
Nicholas Daley is all about community, craftsmanship and also being a kind of a pioneer of entrepreneurs.