Nicola Formichetti Dishes on His Colorful Urban Outfitters Collaboration

Nicola Formichetti Dishes on His Colorful Urban Outfitters Collaboration

The innovative designer behind Nicopanda talks about his new collection with Urban Outfitters and the importance of retail stores.

The innovative designer behind Nicopanda talks about his new collection with Urban Outfitters and the importance of retail stores.

Text: Jake Viswanath

Ever since Diesel creative director and Lady Gaga's former stylist Nicola Formichetti stepped out on his own and created his own fashion footprint, Nicopanda, the brand has started to break digital boundaries, creating bold and viral-ready pieces and even working with Amazon to get clothes from the runway to your door in record speed. Now, the designer is taking things a little more old-school and focusing on the classic retail store. For the first time, Nicopanda is collaborating with Urban Outfitters on a capsule collection for the holidays, consisting of cozy puffers, oversized scarves, and striking tracksuits in multi-colored camouflage. We talked to Formichetti about the collection and why the malls and retail stores still hanging on are just as essential as ever.

What was it about Urban Outfitters that made you want to collaborate with them?

Well, you know I love the digital space and I did this collaboration with Amazon this season, we did a see-now-buy-now project, it’s pretty insane. Trying to see the future, like this instant fashion idea, it’s kind of exciting for me. But at the same time, I look at it and for me, physical stores where people can actually go somewhere and experience clothing is for me as important as the digital world. I feel like sometimes people are saying that retail is dead and all that stuff but I think what's still important is the idea of going somewhere and touching things, experiencing items, and you’re looking at beautiful displays and getting inspired physically. So when I was thinking about that, Urban was one of the first ones [I thought of]. I used to go there to just get inspired because they have a cool kid urban lifestyle where you can buy records, books, makeup, you have a big space, the merchandise is spaced really beautifully, so I was always such a big fan of Urban. Also normally, with Nicopanda, we sell in more fashion boutiques but we want to expand and I feel like Urban was the really natural next step to take because they have the coolest stores in the coolest places in the world, globally, and it’d be great to become a partner to do something together, so that’s how the collaboration got started.

The first launch is the holiday collection, and it’s all about these cool comfy clothes, like puffers and sweats, really easy boys and girls stuff. And we created this multicolored camouflage and the purple camouflage and it’s super, super cute. And the best thing about it is the price. We managed to make all the products super reasonable. So dresses will go from $150 and then the puffer will be $280, and of course we have hats and scarves and stuff. And I love that you could pander it to be available to a bigger audience, and I think with Urban, we get to do that.

You place a lot of emphasis on accessibility. Why is being accessible so important to you right now at this moment?

Well, there’s so many things happening, I think the world is changing and I think fashion has changed as well and I think by trying different new and different things, I think we’ll find out what’s going to happen. So lots of experimenting, like we went to the complete extreme with Amazon, like "Ok you see the show, and then you get [the clothes] straight away,’"and a few hours later, it’s at your house. With Urban,  we create a really cool environment and people can go there and experience it and then you buy the clothes, you touch it.  Urban also has very good social media and digital presence. So they use that really really well, they know their brand and the customers, and they have fun, and so I think engagement and creating some content is the key. And I think we just want to have fun.

Why camouflage? Why did you decide to go that route with this collaboration?

Well the camouflage for me is like the check, it's kind of an iconic thing and we colored it in our way, but I think… I don’t want to be too literal but it’s almost like you feel like…I don’t want to talk about wars and stuff but you’re kind of like a love warrior or something.

You see the camouflage, the multicolor as lighting up something that’s dark in a sense?

Probably, you’re taking something that is for fighting but you color it and you take that symbolism and you make it fun and light.

And I loved what you said earlier about the importance of the physical space. What made you want to focus more on that experience rather than focusing on digital?

I started from a store, by working in a store, and that’s where I met people. When I was working at the store as a shop assistant, I met people from the magazine world and the fashion world and that’s how I got into fashion. So it’s kind of like a place to hang out, because with Nicopanda, we don’t have stores for that. I wanted to find a place where people get together and I think Urban really represents that. They started it a really long time ago, they’ve been doing killer stores for a long time and they keep doing it. Their windows are amazing, their merchandizing is so cool. They just have fun and it inspires you, the way they work with musicians and music and art and fashion and utility wear.

If you were to do another collection for them what would be the direction, where do you see it heading style-wise?

I'd love to do more tees and summery stuff, almost continuing what we’re doing but maybe including more of a graphic element to it would be fun. But we’ll see.

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