We managed to grab a few moments with one of the UK’s most pioneering young fashion designers, Nicholas Daley to ask him about his exhibition Return to Slygo which is on at the Now Gallery.
Can you tell us a bit about the exhibition?
The exhibition explores community crossing for culture and my journey, growing my brand over the last few seasons whilst collaborating with different creatives, artists and musicians along the way. The exhibition highlights the significance of my parents and what they did, running the reggae clubs together and exploring the knitting and crocheting on my mother’s side and how this has influenced my work and designs.
So ultimately, it’s exploring British identity, multiculturalism, craftsmanship, music and all these elements which inspire my work and collections. It’s a real celebration of all those elements that people will enjoy when they visit the Slygo exhibition at Now gallery.
From the outside, it seems like you couldn’t find two places more different from Scotland and Jamaica, but are there things you feel connect them?
So from the outside, people might think Scotland & Jamaica are different, but historically, there are many closer links there through the British Empire and slavery right through to my ancestry. Both cultures are very patriotic in terms of their identity and the things that stand for their nationalism. So whether that’s food or music or their influence on fashion, it’s been an integral part of my upbringing to have these very strong cultural ancestries or backgrounds from my parents, which seeps into my collections and work. My parents’ love of music was what they were first connected within Scotland in the 70s. It’s another reason why it’s a driving force in my work, people always look at the differences rather than similarities, and I think my exhibition hopefully touches on that.
Do you feel as we come out of the pandemic, we have a unique opportunity to reassess what’s important in our lives?
The pandemic was difficult for everybody, and I hope this exhibition is a way for people to re-engage with these cultural spaces. Look at the crucial things in our lives, whether looking at our family history or ancestry celebrating, music and British identity and culture.
All the elements I highlight within the exhibition are important and go beyond just the fashion context.
The films we produced with Akinola Davis Junior and Joseph Dunn also shine a light on many different elements of my ancestry and the broader identity within the UK and the specific communities I’m highlighting. Whether it’s the Black Caribbean experience, Scotland and knitting and Dundee and the Jute industry, they’re all part of British history, which I think is what I’m trying to explain through the Return to Slygo show.
Was it straightforward for you to decide what to put in the exhibition and how to display it?
The decision on which items to go into the exhibition was mainly to highlight as many collaborators as possible, whether that’s Gaurab Thakali, the illustrator, through his Illustrations on the vinyl of the glass of the building on the flags and posters. Tilly Mint visual artists with her psychedelic artwork on the exhibition floor, the photographers Piczo & Bolade and the film’s Joseph & Akin. I wanted to make sure there was a richness in terms of the collaborators whom we worked with, and obviously, the hand-knitted rugs using the sustainable yarns from our Scottish suppliers to make these fantastic unique one-off carpets that people can sit down and enjoy and watch the films. This ties into my exploration of knitting and crocheting in my family.
I had a good strong idea from the beginning, and I just wanted to highlight all these other amazing creatives
What’s happening for you in 2021 / 2022?
We have an upcoming collaboration with Mulberry. The collaboration will be an exciting opportunity to show my designs in a different product type, using luxury sustainable leather goods and a pop-up shop, which I plan for this year and continue my work with Fred Perry.
I am continuing my works with Fred Perry through the ongoing collaborations I have with them and with Lavenham.
There are still many good things to come over the next few months, and showcasing my collections at London Fashion Week, I’m excited to have a physical show or presentation, depending on how the pandemic plays out. Generally, everything is looking in a positive direction and return Slygo’s an excellent way to hopefully start the momentum back up again for all the other future projects coming up.
RETURN TO SLYGO by Nicholas Daley at NOW Gallery on Greenwich Peninsula 4th Jul 2021
About the Artist
Nicholas Daley graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2013 and launched his eponymous label in 2015. Since the brand’s genesis, Nicholas has continually explored his dual-ethnic heritage, being of Jamaican and Scottish descent: he widely questions and reflects the notion of multiculturalism within the British identity. Placing great significance on craftsmanship with his production within the UK and Japan Nicholas works with recognised artisans creating bespoke textiles and fabric finishes for every collection. For the last six seasons Nicholas has been supported by The British Fashion Council’s NEWGEN designer program showcasing his collections during London Fashion Week Men’s. He was also the recipient of the 2019 International Woolmark Prize Semi-Final Award, presenting a custom collection titled ‘Reggae Klub’ . He has collaborated with iconic brands such as Adidas and Fred Perry continuing his creative narrative into new areas of the fashion market. Nicholas is stocked within notable stores such as International Gallery Beams, Browns, Mr Porter, SSENSE and Dover Street Market. @nicholas_daley