Wondering what it is that inspires a fashion designer's collections? Or how about a little bit of information on they went about landing that enviable position? Read on for our interview with Nick Bower of Poler.
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Becoming a full time, fully fledged fashion designer is something that countless creatives across the globe aspire to. With no 'surefire' way of landing that perfect job, design students are often left uninspired and unsure of what direction to take.
Nick Bower, one of Poler's latest designers, has previously worked with many great brands including a long stretch with iconic streetwear label, Stussy - a position many designers would kill for. If you grew up in streetwear and action sports culture, chances are you have worn something Nick designed over the course of his career. Read on for a little inspiration, words of wisdom and information on the man behind the clothing
24 Hours with Poler's Designer Nick Bower
What Was it That Initially Interested you about Fashion and Design?
I grew up in South Africa in the 60s and 70s. There was no ‘Active Sports’ world, no surf/skate culture, no outdoor branded gear and no streetwear as we know it today. The hippy youth culture thing was happening on the West Coast of America, but for me it was worlds away.
What initially got me interested in fashion was the fact that my best buddy Geo rey Anthony had an Elvis Presley complex. Elvis was his hero. Geo rey took all his cues from Elvis, or at least the character Elvis portrayed in his movies: the way he walked, talked, rolled up his sleeves, combed his hair and even to knocking people out with one punch.
Although I neither shared Geo’s fascination with Elvis, nor his ability to imitate him, it was interesting to watch someone obsessed with developing a personal style, and it was what got me interested in fashion.
Was there a Moment That You Knew You Wanted to Pursue Design as a Career?
Initially, I didn’t pursue a career in fashion because I cared that much about clothing, but it rose from a deep-seated fear that I had of spending my days working a nine-to-five, wearing a shirt and tie.
Growing up in South Africa in a conservative colonial environment, I knew to escape that fate I had to choose a career in one of the creative worlds. The educational opportunities for a creative career in South Africa were pretty limited, so I started inquiring about going to a London art college.
It happened that the brother of a friend of mine had just come back to South Africa after graduating from Central St. Martins fashion school, and after speaking to him I decided that studying fashion was as good an option as any.
Favourite Designers Both Past and Present?
Valentino in the 70s for his opulent creativity. Armani in the 80s for his introduction of the concept of minimalism. Jean Paul Gaultier in the 90s for his French madcap creativity. Romeo Gigli for his amazing colour palette. Rei Kawakubo for being hands down the most talented designer we have seen in this modern generation. Hedi Slimane for having an almost monastic discipline to his vision, wherever he’s working. Hiroki Nakamura from VisVim, for showing us what’s possible in the street wear genre.
What other Aspects of Life, Outside of Fashion, Affect Your Creative Vision and The Clothes You Design?
With respect, I think this question is dated. I’m interested in architecture, photography, fine art, interior design, cars, food, travel, sport, etc. In today’s online world, I don’t think any of these interests lie outside of fashion. It’s all ‘fashion’ now. However, to answer the question of what in influences my design of clothing, the answer is other clothing. More specifically, clothing that’s been built for a function, not fashion. Military, workwear, utility, technical sport, outdoors, ect. I’m interested in clothing as product and its level of quality.
What is it About Poler That Interested You From a Design Perspective?
The new youthful perspective it has on the life outdoors, breaking the notion that every time you head outdoors you have to be prepared to climb Mt. Everest. The off-key colour palette was refreshing, along with a graphic language that bought a sense of humour to an otherwise serious market.
Poler is Excited to be Opening a Concept Store in Laguna Beach, a Place You’ve Called Home for Some Time. What Drew You to LB?
I came over to California in the mid-80s. My first job was with Gotcha Sportswear. Michael Tomson, the owner of Gotcha, brought me over from Italy where I was working. He lived here in Laguna Beach, so naturally this was the first place I came to and basically never left.
What are Some of the Great Things About LB and How do You Think Poler Will Impact the Local Folks and Culture of the Area?
The great thing about Laguna Beach is this town was built and populated by artists and hippies. And even though it’s changed over the years, it still retains a lot of its alternative feel. I think the new Poler store and community meeting space will bring a great retail addition to that part of town, and definitely add to Laguna’s reputation as a creative town.
What Would be Your Last Meal?
A big Kahuna Burger, with some Sprite to wash it down, followed by a pretty fucking good $5 milkshake.
Words & interview by Poler Co-Founder Benji Wagner