Fashion with an edge: The team behind Nicholas K dress eco-conscious “urban nomads”

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Some of the 2017 fall/winter fashions from Nicholas K designs. Provided by Nicholas K

The brother-sister team behind the brand Nicholas K aren’t typical fashion creators.

Christopher and Nicholas (who’s also known as Nicole) Kunz say their flowing, draped, often loose-fitting designs are suited to the “urban nomad.” They don’t believe in — or follow — trends. They prefer seasonless clothes to ones that are designed for spring or fall. They’d also rather see customers buy one really great sweater or pair of pants than four or five pieces of clothing that will be discarded within months.

Denverites will get to view Nicholas K’s latest looks on Aug. 5 at the Urban Nights fashion show, which benefits Urban Peak and two other youth charities. The Cherry Creek North boutique Garbarini is the presenting boutique for the show. Owner Terry Garbarini says she has been selling the line since the company started in 2003 because it’s unlike anything else on the market.

The collection, which includes oversized pieces that wrap and drape, is edgy when shown as head-to-toe outfits, but is more versatile when viewed as indivdual items. “We’ll have customers for the crazy pants that wrap and buckle, but we sell more pieces like sweaters and wraps,” Garbarini said. She also lauds the designers’ use of natural fibers and the quality of finished garments.

“From the beginning, her detailing has been impeccable,” Garbarini said of Nicholas, who leads design and production for the collection.

Among the pieces Garbarini will have in her store for fall are velvet cargo pants that tie at the ankle. “As wild as that sounds, with boots and a sweater, they will look incredible,” she said. Boxy jackets, metallic leathers and oversized shirts are among the other pieces that will be in the store — and on the runway.

The Kunzes are based in New York City. Nicholas has an extensive fashion resume, starting with an internship at Donna Karan and then helming the DKNY denim division for men’s and women’s wear. She also consulted for a variety of brands before starting her own company. Because she worked on both men’s and women’s collections, there’s a gender-bending utilitarianism to her designs. Christopher’s eclectic background includes work at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He’s also a craftsman and product designer and has a master’s degree in finance and marketing. He handles the business and customer relations aspects of Nicholas K.

The brand’s edgy styles often are in dark or desert-inspired neutrals and have military-style details. Their father was a flight surgeon, their brother a Navy SEAL, and they grew up in Arizona doing a lot of outdoor activities where clothing and equipment had to function.
“Nomads don’t need a lot of stuff. They have a minimal lifestyle, and they’re transient, like a lot of people today,” Christopher said in a phone interview. “Travel is booming, and people like traveling with fewer things. Just as what your phone does for your life — having a lot of functions and uses — you want clothing that looks good but is versatile and transitional.”

Underscoring Nicholas K’s design philosophy is a desire to step lightly on the planet. The company uses use only natural fibers, including cotton, silk, linen, vegetable-dyed leathers, silk velvet, alpaca and wool. “Most of our dyes are non-toxic and we have an artisan program where we’re trying to convert to all organic dyes,” Nicholas said.

The designers enjoy taking their collection on the road for good causes, as they will do for the Denver show. Earlier this summer, they went to Serbia for a fashion show for disadvantaged youth that was held at the U.S. ambassador’s residence.

“Events are a great way for us to show what we are doing and what changes are being made in the fashion industry,” Christopher said.

While not interested in trends, designer Nicholas always has a point of view to express in her collections. “Our theme for fall-winter was about model diversity and ’90s hip-hop,” she said. “It started with the political climate and what’s going on with election. It led us back to the ’90s because that was a transitional moment and the golden era of hip-hop. There were these militant elements to it.”

They consciously carry styles from one season to the next and try to build versatility into the designs. “We have pieces you can wear four different ways that will take you from the beach to a dressier place. It takes a little longer for consumers to understand that, and we have to educate them, but it’s not something you can get from every brand,” Nicholas said.

They like it when customers keep pieces in their wardrobe for years. “As they get older and smarter and more educated about life and consumption, people learn there are different ways you can look good but be conscious about the environment,” Christopher said.

Urban Nights Denver

“Threads of Promise” is the theme for the Aug. 5 Urban Nights Denver fashion show fundraiser for Urban Peak and two other charities. The event will celebrate its fifth year at Mile High Station under the Colfax viaduct at 2027 W. Lower Colfax Ave.

Amy Meyer Smith, marketing director of Infiniti of Denver, will be honored as the event’s Urban Legend.

Fashions from New York design firm Nicholas K will be presented by Garbarini in Cherry Creek North and there will also be looks from Suit Supply and student designers from the Art Institute of Colorado. Following the show, entertainment will feature ’90s rap and fashion icons Salt-N-Pepa.

In addition to Urban Peak, charity partners for the event are The Danny Dietz Foundation and La Academia at The Denver Inner City Parish. All provide services to at-risk youth.

The Joseph Family Foundation funds a substantial portion of the Urban Nights budget, allowing money raised from the event to be donated to the beneficiaries.

Tickets start at $100 for young professionals and VIP single tickets are $250 per person. Tables are $1,500 for young professionals, while patron and sponsor tables are $2,500 to $10,000. Ticket information and more details are at urbannightsdenver.org

Sourse : denverpost.com

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