Nicholas K have no doubt put a unique stamp on the industry through their use of sustainable materials and eclectic silhouettes.
The brand has cultivated an air of nomadic luxury through their diverse pieces featuring draping, neutral color palettes, and natural fibers reflecting the brands distinct signature. At a moment where fast fashion prevails, it was insightful to speak with the brother-sister duo Christopher and Nicholas Kunz who have championed sustainability.
A fundamental question that arises throughout the interview was, does creating just consist of beautiful things or is it things that possess some sort of substance and balance?
The designers encompass tradition within their progressive designs along with an ease of functionality. Their Fall/Winter 18 collection heightens their dedication to natural fibers, in particular, undyed alpaca wool which led them on a pilgrimage to Peru in order to source this fiber. Their collections predominantly consist of sustainable materials combined with a concept-driven approach providing a holistic vision each season.
The Knockturnal: Where is your inspiration derived from, do you often incorporate your Arizona roots into your collections?
Nicholas Kunz: I think it’s the bigger picture – being inspired by nature, animals, and conservation that has heavily influenced us. Also cultural diversity, from a young age we have been very open to different cultures so I think that’s why our clothing is not typical fashion – it has that kind of nomadic culture.
The Knockturnal: What is your creative process like embarking on a new season?
Nicholas Kunz: It just evolves, it’s not structured. It’s a creative process, you never know when inspiration is going to hit you.
The Knockturnal: What constitutes good design?
Christopher Kunz: I think good design has perpetuity, having relevance today, tomorrow and into the future, I think we try not to think about fashion as a fleeting flare that disappears and is irrelevant the next season. Great design has a lasting effect, an example of this is architecture from hundreds of years ago, people still visit these buildings today. I also think clothing has to be liberating but also versatile.
Nicholas Kunz: I think to make something timeless it has to be traditional. We also want to be progressive and pushing the envelope of design. At one point we were creating hybrids that were really transitional. One of the reasons we started to move into sustainability is similar to the mindset of ‘you are what you eat’ it’s the same with clothes and what you put against your skin as the skin is your biggest organ.
The Knockturnal: Do you frequently combine feedback from the international marketplace into your work, does that contribute to your success?
Christopher Kunz: Fashion has become a global market, in some sense, there is a homogeneous nature of the market. In order to have a successful brand, it’s important to have an identity – in the long run, you have to have a strong brand DNA.
The Knockturnal: You have championed sustainability within your design practice, how did this come to be such a pivotal part of your design practice?
Nicholas Kunz: It came about as a reflection of how we lead our personal lives and it was so rewarding. For us it was always a personal mission so it was an easy transition, now it’s about trying to educate ourselves and keep up with what’s going on in the sustainable market to transition as much as we can.
The Knockturnal: What are some of your favorite sustainable fibers and what have you been using in your latest collections?
Nicholas Kunz: We use a lot of linen, organic cotton, silk, and undyed cashmere. A lot of alpaca wool has been used in our most recent collection [Fall/Winter 2018] – especially undyed alpaca, we have been trying to use this fiber for two years but it has not been easy as production quantities run very low. The reason the supplier doesn’t have it is because the whole industry has been pushing towards white so they can dye it and not worry about demand for specific colors – this means there is a finite resource of the undyed fiber we have been trying to use.
The Knockturnal: What do you want to see more of in the fashion sphere in terms of sustainability?
Christopher Kunz: When you look at the landscape and the scale of production, more companies need to make a commitment to sustainability. I think there needs to be a baseline of acceptability in doing production, for example, don’t use toxic dyes especially where there are other alternatives readily available. Things get devalued so easily, especially when you pay less for something people think throwing it away is okay and I think that is the wrong attitude – your expectation of the product is diminished. There is also this mentality of consumption – that more is better. People think I can buy 5 for the cost of one which is not the right mindset.
Nicholas Kunz: I think if you’re someone who is aware of eating healthy and being healthy the natural progression is to move from food and products you use on your skin to what you wear.
The Knockturnal: What are some of your passions outside of design?
Gardening, hiking, skiing, travel, diving, and anything outdoors really.
To learn more about the creative duo and their work visit: https://nicholask.com/