Because this is the brand that is doing gendered clothes the right way. Nick Wakeman, the creative director and the business brain behind it, is a textile graduate from Chelsea School of Arts with experience in designing commercial-oriented menswear and women’s streetwear buying. After being part of the design team at Diesel during the 1990s in Italy, she moved back to London to work at Marks & Spencer, designing men’s chinos and shirting. “It was the best sales-based design training anyone could have ever had,” Wakeman says of the M&S experience, after which she joined the seminal Notting Hill streetwear store Supra, introducing a womenswear range to the already established names of Stüssy and Supreme, as well as getting in a lot of then-new Japanese names. While working at Supra, Wakeman started a 12-piece-collection and a brand called Birdie which was soon picked up by one of Tokyo’s largest boutique retailers Beams. And that’s where the relationship between Nick Wakeman and Japan started.

Studio Nicholson pre-fall 2017

After eight years of running a brand whose main retail target was the Far East, Wakeman decided to sell the brand to a Japanese buyer and take a break from designing. A couple of years later, she launched Studio Nicholson with her vision for spring/summer 2011, and the message was simple: these are contemporary clothes for women who like menswear-quality clothes, but tailor-made for female bodies. And Wakeman is one of those women. When I talk to her over the phone, she introduces herself and jokingly asks, “You weren’t expecting a guy, were you?” Now, seven years after the brand’s debut, she has decided to launch a menswear line. It all makes sense because, at the end of the day, Nick Wakeman is a self-confessed menswear designer.

Studio Nicholson Menswear autumn/winter 2017

The new line directly references her seven-year-old womenswear brand, with fabrics, colours and even silhouettes being reshaped into fashion for the guys. But despite the seemingly gender-neutral nature of Wakeman’s designs and her personal love for masculine dressing, she sees gender in clothes quite clearly: “The look is the same but they are cut completely differently – they are cut in a way that makes sense for a man versus how it makes sense for a woman.” Whether it’s moving the zips, adapting the sizes or repositioning the buttons – you can leave it to Wakeman to create easy-to-wear clothes that have a sense of tradition but ooze with contemporary, Japanese-inspired flair.

Studio Nicholson pre-fall 2017

Future plans? “There’s only so much growth with wholesale, so we’re onto the retail next,” Wakeman says. After a pop-up store in the Japanese capital in October, a two-year plan includes opening a flagship store in London with the one in Tokyo to follow soon after. It’s all part of a big Studio Nicholson business plan which, according to its creative director, has been followed down to the numbers. It’s absolutely no surprise. Nick Wakeman has the confidence of a business woman, and the mind of a fashion designer, and we’re absolutely excited to buy into her world of refined simplicity.

Studio Nicholson Menswear autumn/winter 2017

Shop Studio Nicholson at studionicholson.com or at Liberty London, Regent Street, London W1B 5AH.

Text by Dino Bonacic

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