Interview with Designer and Creative Director of N Palmer
Creative Direction - Nicholas Palmer
Photographer - Balint Barna
MUA - Jenny Green
Hair - Toni&Guy
Model - Odira Morwabone
Interview by Andrew Ogun
Throughout lockdown, Nick Palmer found himself yearning for something to do, stuck in a time reminiscent of a school holiday, where you feel that you have all the time in the world, but as an adult who understood all the happenings of the current world. In his free time, Palmer yearned to find a way to channel his emotions and re-engage with optimism through finding colour in what felt like a seemingly bleak time and began creating his namesake brand, N Palmer’s debut collection. It was in this climate that his debut collection was born. We caught up with Nick Palmer just before his show for London Fashion Week.
We had an enlightening conversation about his new collection and his perspective on the rapid changes in the industry currently:
Tell us a bit about yourself?
Well you kind of already know a bit about my background. When I think about it, I’ve been doing this for 12 years. I don’t want to use the word ‘journey’ because it’s a cliché in fashion but it has been a journey. I’ve always tried to roll with the punches with everything. I was in New York and got into Parsons but the way other people talked about the fashion programme led to me deferring my offer and doing humanities subjects instead which allowed me to figure out if I really wanted to go into fashion. When I got in though, I realised that it wasn’t that bad and that I was listening to people who didn’t really want to be in the industry. I wanted to be there, I was like ‘oh wait a minute, my assignment is making a pair of trousers and I don’t have to write a paper on the history of something?’ That’s so much more fun.
I graduated and it felt that perhaps New York didn’t want me or maybe it didn’t understand me. I was freelancing for years and I just knew I had to change the conversation. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result right? So I decided to try Europe because I’d been wanting to do the MA [at Central Saint Martins]. I ended up doing a major overhaul of my portfolio, submitting it to CSM and I actually got into every programme I applied for so I must be pretty good at this.
What are the differences in their approach to teaching fashion in Parsons in comparison to CSM?
Parsons's way of teaching is a little bit more practical because it's more about the actual technique and learning how to make garments and I’m grateful for this learning experience because it gave me the skill to make a pattern and finish garments. I can actually work with sewers and explained to them the way to do something, which I believe is important to do. At CSM, their focus is ideas so I almost had to learn a new language whilst being forced to speak it fluently at the same time. CSM are really good at teasing out the essence of what we do and what makes us what we are. They set you up to have your own vocabulary.
In the last few months, sustainability has become a bit of a buzzword since we’ve started to scrutinise and reimagine the world we’re living in. What does sustainability mean to you and how much responsibility does the consumer have compared to the designer?
It’s something that I think about a lot and it’s something that I even think about beyond fashion. You can put the responsibility on the individual but the company is the one selling the things in plastic bottles. The company is the one selling poorly manufactured garments. It’s my responsibility as a designer to offer the best possible things and do things to the best of my ability. It’s upsetting to me though because I do want to be accessible to a larger audience but to make things that have been created without exploiting workers or using exploitive practices, it ends up having a higher price tag. How can we expect a t-shirt that costs less than a meal in McDonalds to be made without someone being exploited?
I try to be conscious of wastage and how much I waste. I believe we’ve become very disposable with how we view things in fashion and that’s something that’s always irked me. Like if I had a drawing class, I would try and make that notepad or paper last as long as it could. I couldn’t imagine just ripping it out and throwing it away. It just felt entitled and wasteful.
I personally end up buying mostly vintage clothes. It makes me really happy that places like Grailed, Depop and eBay exist and I love that people are getting into it. I think it adds to individuality.