Few people who end up wanting to go into the competitive world of fashion design have had the opportunity to grow up with a firsthand look at the multifaceted industry. With a family history in the leather and design field, Nicole Remeny has been well-trained in her passion, honing her skills from a very young age. With a background in both menswear and women’s wear, Nicole has been involved in the fashion arena her whole life, from retail to heading up creative design teams. Now her ever-growing brand has developed a loyal following that includes a number of celebs (think Drew Barrymore and Zoe Saldana).
TFS had the chance to speak with the designer to get her inside take on what makes leather such an attractive material to work with, styling tips, where she sees her brand going in the coming seasons, and more.
Q: Where did the name 1020 by Nicole come from?
A: My family has been in the leather business for over 40 years. They own a leather garment manufacturing business in downtown Los Angeles, which is where I do all of my design work. We manufacture all of our garments there. The address of the factory is 1020. I wanted to keep a connection with the name to my family, so that is why I chose 1020 by Nicole.
Q: How would you describe your aesthetic? Your target clientele?
A: My concept is simplicity with a focus on quality and fit. I wanted to concentrate on making the perfect leather jacket. I am not into all of the
bells and whistles I see in the marketplace. I like simple, smart, and modern. I wanted to take all of the classic styles and update them to modern aesthetic. I took the motorcycle style, the bomber, the blazer, the hoodie, etc. and made them fashion forward. Most of the jackets have an alpaca knit trim, which really adds an element of luxury to the styles. I also do a collection of knit scarves, detailed with leather, out of the alpaca wool that compliments both the jackets and any item in a wardrobe.
My target clientele is quite broad. I have had a great response from a wide range of people – from young women shopping with their moms, to celebrities, starlets, to woman who are more mature and fashion aware. My collection definitely has a variety of styles for everyone. I really love working with all age groups.
Q: What made you focus your attention on leather?
A: Given that my family has been in the leather business since before I was born – from my great-grandfather in Hungary to the present – leather is in my blood. I am fortunate that I already have such great relationships with all of the top tanneries in Italy. The leather I use is the softest and highest quality leather out there, as I work closely with these tanners to bring out what is the newest and freshest in the market.
I absolutely love fashion and always knew I would be in this industry. It is a dream come true that I can combine my two passions to create a line that fills a void in the market.
Q: What is your favorite piece in your current collection?
A: I love them all! Each one is unique and very special to me. The first piece I designed, which was the Shortie, was the inspiration for the entire collection. It is modern, sophisticated, simple, but with a innovative sleeve detail that makes it a real stand out. I am also really excited about the upcoming season. I am introducing a couple of new bold colors such as royal blue and red, a crocodile-looking leather but with the soft feel of lambskin, along with some really chic new silhouettes.
Q: Do you have any suggestions for the best way to style your outerwear?
A: I love to think of my leather jackets as the new LBD. You should be able to wear them with everything, and to almost any occasion. I have seen my jackets worn with jeans and t-shirt on Drew Barrymore, or worn with a beautiful gown like Zoe Saldana has done. The knit scarves are a great way to punch up your outfit with some color, since they come in every color of the rainbow. Just throw one on over your leather jacket and you are ready to hit the town with style. You really can’t go wrong styling a leather jacket. It is meant to be thrown on without thinking – you’re good to go from the red carpet to just bopping around town. A leather jacket always works.
Q: Where does your design inspiration come from?
A: My design inspiration comes from a mixture of my own style and wardrobe to the street styles of Paris and Milan. I definitely get a lot of my inspiration people watching, and I have always loved street fashion. It is so interesting to me, the different ways that people find to wear something as simple as a scarf, for example. When I was young girl I would spend a lot of time in my grandfather and father’s factory. I basically grew up there. I was inspired by all of the colors and different leather. I always knew I would be doing something creative.
Q: Your pieces have been worn by a number of celebrities. How did those opportunities come about?
A: We are so lucky to have an amazing group of celebrity stylists from the entertainment industry that I work with who grew up in L.A. So many close friends have introduced me to them, and I am delighted that they are all crazy about the collection.
Q: Dream celebrity to wear one of your pieces?
A: Well, some I am already working with, such as Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale, and Zoe Saldana, but when they were young I would have loved to have worked with Audrey Hepburn and Catherine Denueve. One of my dream celebrities that I have not worked with yet is definitely Kate Moss. I absolutely love her style.
Q: You’ve received a lot of press. For up and coming designers, do you have any suggestions on how to get media attention without the capital to hire a publicist?
A: Promote yourself, you are always your biggest fan. Get the word out through friends and any contacts you can pull together. Good news always travels when there is a new designer in town, but you have to be persistent.
Q: What attracted you to branching out into scarves?
A: I wanted to add an easy accessory, something that really went with the idea of leather jackets. I felt a need for something that was edgy, comfy and simple. I love that they come in every color you can think of, so there is one for everyone. It’s a great way to add a splash of color to your outfit. I am always looking to grow and branch in ways that make sense. I feel this is just the beginning to expanding the 1020 by Nicole brand.
Q: Where do you see your line expanding in the next few seasons?
A: More styles, more colors, definitely some cool, unusual new leather. I am always thinking of what I can add to the line. I would love to eventually expand into bags and boots. Leather is definitely my specialty, and I want to do everything I can in that realm.