“I wanted to use their fabrics. They wanted our shapes and silhouettes,” says Nick Wakeman, founder and creative director of ready-to-wear brand Studio Nicholson, speaking of her new collaboration with the heritage casualwear brand Sunspel. “Really, that’s it. These two brands do these two things well. Together, we’ve made something almost perfect.” For Studio Nicholson, which Wakeman founded 11 years ago in London, their “thing” is an elegant modular wardrobe that draws on Japanese design and has a distinctly ’90s taste for androgynous cuts, while Derbyshire-based brand Sunspel excels in luxurious British-made knits and sweatshirting.
Left: Sunspel x Studio Nicholson Idle sweatshirt, ￡120, and Ryton joggers, ￡125. Right: Sunspel x Studio Nicholson Brook zip-up top, ￡95, and Farley trousers, ￡120
The resulting collection, launching later this month, consists of monochrome basics for men and women, and feels almost monastic in its simplicity: mid-length T-shirt and sweater dresses, sweatshirts, tracksuit bottoms, leggings and a hoodie, with most pieces available in black and milk – an “off white, which we normally call ‘archive white’”, explains Sunspel creative director David Telfer. Fabrications include Sunspel’s long-staple midweight cotton jersey, a cotton Loopback sweater finished in fleece – for winter – and a new comfort cotton stretch jersey developed for the collaboration.
There was a natural fit, with each brand bringing something different to the drawing board
Nick Wakeman, Studio Nicholson creative director
It was Sunspel that first suggested that the two British brands collaborate. “We were looking for people who might rework our archive or take our fabrications in new directions,” says Telfer, who also oversaw the brand’s collaboration featuring the rainbow-toned illustrations and prints of artist John Booth. “We felt they [Studio Nicholson] would create something that would be new and different for our customer, but still relevant to them.”
Sunspel x Studio Nicholson Greet dress, ￡130
Left: Sunspel x Nicholson Idle sweatshirt,￡120, Maun hoodie, ￡120, and Ryton joggers, ￡125. Right: Sunspel x Nicholson Meden T-shirt dress, ￡145
Collaborations between two ready-to-wear brands are unusual – “more often you would do a shoe or a perfume, or something you haven’t done before,” says Wakeman. But there was a natural fit here, with each brand bringing something different to the drawing board. “We’ve struggled with jersey fabric – sometimes we can’t find our place with it. How do you make it elevated? But I think that’s where the collaboration makes sense,” adds Wakeman. “I wanted to make sure that you can wear the pieces with one of our trench coats.”
The collection certainly meets today’s demand for elevated casualwear. “It’s easy – and that’s what we do: everything in a very easy way,” says Wakeman. “It’s got to be understandable, instantly recognisable, super functional, playful. And I think it ticks all those boxes.”