Kenneth Nicholson is an American fashion designer liberating the scope of menswear by focusing on innovative techniques based on silhouettes and texturing. Launched in 2016, his eponymous label centers around a militaristic aesthetic influenced by art history to create a brand that is, in his own words, “for the fully expressed man.”
In 2020, Nicholson debuted his short film GRASP at New York Fashion Week, visualizing the unrestricted bounds of his collection that redefine the bounds of masculinity during an era of strict political turmoil.
META MAG sat down with Kenneth Nicholson to learn more about the cultivation of his brand and most recent collection, From Grandma’s Couch. In April 2021, Nicholson was one of the ten recipients of the CFDA / Vogue Fashion Fund Awards, which provides independent designers with the resources to further their creative endeavors. Read on to discover the creator behind revolutionizing the fully expressed man.
See the full interview in our third issue, RESILIENCE.
1. What does resilience mean to you? How does resilience play into your brand and what you create?
I’d say over the years I’ve forged a familiar relationship with resilience. My career path to this point has been an accumulation of repetitive knocking and pushing myself into spaces. However, the resistance ultimately aided my already resolute nature of achieving my end goal.
I found that staying agile is as much a virtue as it is a desserty. When thinking about resilience as it relates to the actual work, it’s very interesting. Craftsmanship has always been a big part of my design. The techniques that I use in the work aids in the longevity of the garments. It's important that the work is able to be enjoyed over many, many years.
2. What will you always be a champion of?
I will always be a champion of romance, beauty and edifying our client, this is a core ethos of the brand as well as my own personal life.
3. Your short film, Grasp, which debuted at NYFW in 2020, touched on nuances of toxic masculinity and societal pressures. How did you come up with the concept for the film and how does your brand reflect these ideas?
Once we learned about the state of fashion presentations while in the throws of the global crisis we quickly restructured our approach of producing a physical presentation to a digital solution. When I wrapped my head around this change, the story came fairly rhythmically. I knew I wanted to incorporate notions that I absolutely love such as romance, ease, classical elements and tradition. Being a short story I felt there needed to be the presence of conflict, a sort of tension that threatened to disrupt the free-flowing atmosphere of our 13-minute story.
Drawing from my own childhood, the work that I create comes from a sprit-deep place with a mission to edify. The work is a proposition to brings the client into a space where there is an opportunity to emote and be fully expressed by way of their sartorial choices.
4. Your most recent collection, From Grandma’s Couch, consists of an array of textured fabrics and structured frames that are intimate to a universal sense of home. How has your upbringing influenced your craft?
As a child, I was extremely sensitive. I was always naturally drawn to the beauty in things and in situations. For me the pure emotion that clothing could evoke felt like something that everyone should have access to. I often found that my options to be fully expressed ran limited when compared to my sisters or girls that I would see at church. I just wanted to have that option of what a lace trim or a ruffle around the neck could evoke on any given day.
There was also beauty that I saw in family gatherings after Sunday service. The care that went into the dinners, noting that their presentation was just as important as the actual fare. I was very much aware of the atmosphere and how the accumulation of seemingly small choices could create a whole experience.