SCENE: N.I.C.E. Collective designs a community

Pub date December 18, 2009
SectionPixel Vision

Interview by Laura Palmer. From SCENE: The Guardian Guide to Nightlife and Glamour on stands in the Guardian now

The N.I.C.E. boys. All photos by Spencer Hansen

Designers Joe Haller and Ian Hannula of burgeoning San Francisco fashion brand N.I.C.E. Collective ( met in a club more than a decade ago and started collaborating on projects — the first one was repurposing an electric blanket into a jumper — complete with tag and plug. Their big idea was to fuel fashion with a musical and nightlife sensibility, enabling the duo to build a community of artists. N.I.C.E. (an acronym for “navigate, inform, create, explore”) rocked New York Fashion Week last spring with a show that felt more art installation/dance party than runway presentation, and whose backdrop included a 19th century carriage and much charred wood. The impeccably edgy Time Machine line they introduced there took off and now holds its own on the floors of retail boutiques next to editorial darlings Rag & Bone and more established brands like Comme des Garcons.

But what next? Between constant trips back and forth from New York to the site of their “live fashion installment” in Bolinas, we managed to snag Joe and Ian for a moment to ask them about the concept for their latest, “communal” clothing line.

DJ nice collective.jpg

SFBG When did you start cultivating the concept for a communal line launch?
N.I.C.E. We came across this stretch of land in Bolinas, and we looked over it and thought, “with the economy tanking, why don’t we just set up a little commune together?” This thought became the jump-off point for our design inspiration for spring 2010. We decided to name it the Gathering.

Then when we didn’t find what we were looking for to show the clothes in New York during Fashion Week this fall, we thought back to Bolinas and decided to go ahead and actually set up a temporary community there. Instead of art directing an outdoor photo-shoot, we would live it and take pictures of our line that way.

Spencer Hansen nice collective 409.jpg

SFBG How did it go? Were any of the models eaten by bears?