Rozae Nichols has developed a distinct visual language that has earned her a following worldwide. Launching just a year ago as a lower-priced alternative to designer Nichols’ namesake line, her line, Clover Canyon has seen a great amount of success. Born in Los Angeles, Nichols worked as a designer in Paris and Los Angeles before launching her first collection in 1993. Nichols’ design approach reflects her California roots and casual elegance, with easygoing, hand-cut designs and dynamic digital prints. Clover Canyon’s visually captivating aesthetic offers a bold, fun, and fearless take on effortless dressing.
Do you believe digital printing has transcended a period of being a trend?
This current trend of digital printing’s equivalent was really born in the ’70s, when the development of ‘photo-transfer’ was realized through new technology of the four color process and its application for textile use. The photographic imaging became so prolific and ultimately interchangeable between the few labels who embraced the technique of that time. The updated digital printing technology of today, enables designers to create and generate textile graphics with such speed and clarity, that perhaps it has once again become too easy to generate redundancy in digital graphics. Similar to the accessibility of sampling and references for some digitally created music, there is a fine line where authenticity can be blurred by the misuse of re-appropriating existing material. I think this trend will filter itself, and continue to evolve and challenge content with elegant juxtapositions. Hopefully, this stage will be more important than obvious digital references of photographs and digitally manipulated imaging. Integrating elements of painting, line drawing, historical textile motifs and tactile texture is how we balance and refresh the printed palette of Clover Canyon.
Your collections focus on prints. How do you stay inspired to create something new within this realm?
For Clover Canyon, it is so much about storytelling, with a narrative of lighthearted travel inspirations depicting an endless source of landscape and environmental images. This has become our constant theme: the joy of travel, and the journey expressed through a graphic collision of classical patterns, ranging from the ancient Silk Road’s mosaic patterns of classical foulards, paisleys, intricate latticing, and tromp l’oeil textures of woven textiles, all of whose motifs frame our story’s inspirations. Textures and layered souvenir images of geographic regions, landscapes, buildings, interiors and objects. This direction brings us to remember and dream of a journey of both aspirational and real travel, and imagination streaming from textile pattern history.
How important is being able to offer your designs at an accessible price point?
The value is in our design ideas and philosophy carried through to the production precision, which we continue to strive to perfect. The accessible price point is key to respecting the economy, and a realistic value of clothing enabling more women to appreciate and take part in collecting our pieces.
How has being established in the fashion world with your namesake label helped to develop Clover Canyon?
Years of experience and cultivated design repertoire, developing exclusive local production techniques, and trusting relationships, enable a clear direction to our exceptionally passionate design team. It’s come full circle and works as a whole.
Is it difficult to find a balance between the silhouette and print of a garment?
The print graphic is our collection’s season story, and the silhouette is usually an elegantly simple structure, which helps to define and support the story with as little distraction as possible. The silhouette is composed, draped and cut into the composition of the print. The design phase continues until both elements feel harmonious in form.
Who or what has influenced your current collection?
Johnny Cash, past road-trips to Marfa, Texas. The Walter Di Maria lightning fields in New Mexico, and several desert highway journeys. Also, Elvis was in the house!
Describe a typical working day.
A hell of a lot of laughs, and constant attention to planning and precision of details from the entire team.
If you weren’t a designer what would you be doing?
Industrial design. I admire the intuitive aspect of observation, and structural engineering of useful and practical objects. I am constantly exploring and sketching ways to improve upon appliances and objects. I enjoy the process of discovering and then solving design problems of many sorts.
What is your favorite piece from you current collection?
The On the Road caftan. When worn, ‘she’ appears as a mirage, a goddess of the road.
Do you have a favorite artist? How do they influence your work?
Annie Albers and Agnes Martin. At a moment in time of very masculine and minimalist art movements, respectively, they created sublimely poetic works within the discipline of the grid.
Describe your label in three words.
Joyfully patterned clothing.
What advice would you give to anyone aspiring to be a fashion designer?
Be true to your soul. Develop your conceptual reasoning to balance your infinite imagination. Hone your craft to work harmoniously with the fairest production territory that best represents your passions and aesthetic.
What is your favorite fabric to work with and why?
Classic Chiffon, it is both ethereal and structurally strong. It works on the grain or bias. Whether solid, printed, rubber coated, doubled plied, bonded, felted: its sheerness is sublime.
If you had the opportunity to change something within the fashion industry, what would it be?
Well, it remains brutal for so many, that some cooperate labels on steroids continue to outmuscle the playing field for innovated young talents. But the one issue which still confounds me, is the ongoing “in-store” delivery timeframe of product, which is increasingly difficult for full price retailing. I believe everyone would benefit from shopping for seasonal items at the current climate time frame that they are needed most. ‘Mark-down’ demand seems, now more than ever, to dictate the climate-irrelevance of a pre-season clothing ‘on the floor’ timeline. This ultimately creates confusion and overstocked racks of scattered sales ‘bargains’. This retail calendar undermines the entire system for honest design and fair wage of laborer’s work. Hopefully in this age of internet exposure, the customer can learn more about and appreciate the honest costs of materials, fair and local labor practices, and the investment of thoughtful design intentions. For healthy and positive reasoning, we have an appreciation for seasonal and organic produce. Why not cultivate this pleasure with the objects and clothing we purchase?
Who is your ideal client?
Curious and openhearted women, with sense of humor and imagination.
How important is social media for your brand?
It is an immediate and essential voice to express our creative vision and philosophy.