Music often influences fashion; capturing a moment in time, a lyric, an expression, a riff, the electrifying energy of a crowd. Iconic brand Lee
does just that with their S/S 2014 collection. Seizing the intensity of the 1994 Lollapalooza gigs and translating it into a range that cohesively merges the punk, metal, grunge and hip-hop music that rocked the stage on that smoldering summer’s day. I talked to Lee’s menswear designer Nick Driver
about how he came to work for the brand and about the inspiration behind this latest collection.
1. What’s your background in fashion?
Grew up in Moeraki as the son of a fisherman and seamstress. From there I moved to Oamaru and on finishing high school moved north to Wanganui, where I studied a Foundation in Visual Arts and a BA in Fashion Communications, however I knew I’d naturally end up designing rather than working within the media side. Shortly after, I moved to Melbourne to work on the Stussy licence for 4 years followed by 4 years in London where I worked for Fenchurch Clothing. On returning to Australia I was fortunate enough to land a role at Lee working along side Cerese (Lee Girls Denim Designer)who had also studied at Wanganui around the same time so it felt like coming full circle and a perfect fit.
2. How did you become a designer at Lee?
Like most I was approached to interview for the role and on turning up found myself in front of Cerese the girls denim designer and an old friend from Wanganui days. I didn’t even know she was in that role so it was quite a surprise. It felt right for both lee and myself and the rest is history. I still work alongside Cerese so we’ve formed a good partnership in that time.
3. Why did you want to work at Lee?
Working within such an iconic brand was always a goal and to be working on a brand of this worldwide stature and history in Australia is unheard of. We are a locally based team designing for the Australian and New Zealand market. We have an amazing team from brand management right through to our warehousing crew so getting up and too work isn’t a chore. Our team is tight knit and everyone is pointing at the same goal so what we achieve we achieve it together. You spend more time at work than anywhere else so it best be a good time.
4. How long have you been at Lee?
It’ll be 4 years in October. Denim and design in general is never ending so I’m always amped to get in here.
5. What’s the inspiration behind the latest collection?
Lee as a brand walks the walk of our customer and music is our link at all times. This Spring/Summer was inspired by the Lollapalooza gigs of 94. These concerts eptimozed the 90′s mash up where punk, hip hop, metal and grunge took to the stage for one day. Front of stage is a crowd of those subcultures merging to witness game changing bands, that crowd was our key inspiration.
6. What references/resources did you look to when designing this collection?
Tumblr, instagram and blogs give you up to the minute references. Previously good mens research was harder to find as you didn’t have the reach or access to these real time trends. Having access to this enables stronger street trends to be reported on and visualised quickly. In saying that though hunting out good vintage from around the world is still the most exciting and fruitful resource for this role. A single jeans wash, abrasion template, fabrication or stitch colour can kick off a new range spawning a whole collection.
7. What’s your favourite piece/pieces from the collection?
Vintage Blues was one of those great vintage Lee finds we picked up in Bangkok. It was the catalyst for a number of washes and fits in SS13. Other notables are definitely the FADED BLUE, REDIAL BLUE and our office favourite the WASH OUT BLACK.
That’s a pretty broad list, but it’s hard when they’re all so good.
8. Any hints on what we can expect to see from Lee next season?
High Summer evolves our Lollapalooza story with some really strong vintage looks in FRESNO BLUE, ATOMIC BLUE & BLEACHER BLUES. It’s a little more weathered and a little more worn, like when your favourite pair of jeans or shorts reach their peak. That’s what we strove for.