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Delicious Designs for the Discriminating
by Jialin Luh on Sep 09, 2005
"Nice" is not the first adjective that comes to mind when I salivate over the sexy pieces Nice Collective unleashes each season. This San Francisco design house that is Joe Haller and Ian Hannula does mostly men's clothing and is damn good at it too.
"Nice" might begin to describe the quality of Nice Collective's clothing -- always soundly constructed of quality fabrics and fastenings, but one need only see images from "Afterhours", this fall's collection, to see that dangerously, deliciously bad boys -- men -- to be precise, will find much to like under this label.
The collection intends to capture all the activities and moods held from midnight through dawn, as evidenced by embellishments and graphics inspired by backstage passes, ticket stubs, club wristbands, hand stamps and drink tickets. A sense of rebelliousness and irreverence is successfully conveyed down through the details -- hanging straps and asymmetrical detailing (yum!) to name only a few.
My personal favorite is the gray and black-striped sweater with kangaroo pocket. Paired with a pair of well-tailored black or gray pants, a smart slate-colored coat and a grungy pair of sneakers, and you're ready to rock the night, hard. Straps that are begging to pulled, colors that blend easily into shadows and dark corners, and pockets for phone numbers mean mischief is never too far off if you don't want it to be.
Shades of gray, olive and blue appear muted yet rich in different pairings. For those not fully prepared to go all dark, a lighter t-shirt and slate camo pullover provide balance without detracting from the magnetic allure of these well-crafted clothes. Illicit behavior and scandalous happenings associated with afterhours are undertones Ian and Joe have subtly infused into this fall collection.
It seems fitting that the nightscenes to which Afterhours pays homage is what brought the two designers together. Joe, a New Yorker, and Ian, from Atlanta, traveled independently to Europe in the late 80s and early 90s where they discovered the electronic music scenes. Upon returning to New York, Joe hooked up with Frankie Bones, Joey Beltram, Moby, Jason Jinx and DB to throw renegade parties, with a soundtrack that morphed from house to acid to techno, to breakbeat, and finally jungle. Joe worked the Limelight, early NASA parties, and started BUZZ parties in DC with Scott Henry and John Tabb. Meanwhile, he had earned a bachelor's degree in Pre-Med with a concentration in radiological technology and held a day job in the operating room performing fluoroscopic radiology.
In Atlanta, Ian was running his own things -- earning a business degree, bicycling competitively on the national road race circuit, and studying combat photography in the Marine Corps. He was also an active member of Atlanta's dance music scene -- producing and DJing events. His residencies included gigs at Weekends -- a night at the old underground punk club 688, and he produced the Unity and Elevation parties with breakbeat, jungle and techno flavors.
Ian and Joe both relocated to San Francisco in 1995 and met on the dancefloor, and the forces were set in motion. Both had rich vaults of worldly experiences with electronic music and like-minded individuals from which they drew inspiration to make something of their ideals and creativity. Nice Collective launched in 1996 with the name derived from their common acknowledgment as the "nice guys". Initially it was intended to be a broad creative outlet that encompassed a club night, record label, DJ agency and clothing line. The clothing line quickly blotted everything else out and Nice Collective released its first collection in winter 1997.
It began with deconstructed camo t-shirts. Then electrical blankets were crafted into jumpers with exposed plugs and warning labels intact. With no formal training in fashion design, Ian and Joe let their imaginations run wild. Today, each collection consists of approximately 100 different pieces and is comprised of roughly 80% men's clothing and 20% women's. High quality basic cottons are still their specialty.
Nice Collective can be found locally at Rolo, Villains Vault, and American Rag, and around the world. Sample sales are held in San Francisco every spring and are not to be missed. In the spotlight, Chris Martin of Coldplay is garbed in Nice Collective for his entire current tour and Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor donned Nice Collective for his summer tour. Ian and Joe have been styling Gavin Rossdale's (formerly of the band, Bush) wardrobe for the last six years and are on board for his tour with his new band Institute. Additionally, Brad Pitt will be wearing Nice Collective in the upcoming film Babel with Cate Blanchett. Other purported fans include Gael Garcia Bernal, Orlando Bloom, Val Kilmer, Seal and Justin Timberlake. Also, be on the lookout for upcoming features in Details and Flaunt magazines.
While my tastes gravitate towards the dark and shadowed, Nice Collective's designs are really suited for any environment, occasion, and personality, as evidenced by the clientele. Expect original and distinctive pieces with a decidedly modern edge in iterations not borrowed from what's already been done. Nice Collective is a chance you can afford to take.
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by Jialin Luh on Sep 09, 2005
Preview of Nice Collective's Fall 2005 Collection, Afterhours
Photos courtesy Nice Collective