Fashion designer Nicholas Daley on his new Mulberry collection and his Scottish heritage

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The Nichols Daley x Mulberry collection is out now

Following the Studio Nicholas Daley exhibition at V&A Dundee, the London-based fashion designer, who founded his menswear label in 2015, has worked with accessory brand, Mulberry.

The new Mulberry x Nicholas Daley limited capsule collection is one of the Mulberry Editions collaborations for this brand's 50th anniversary and has been inspired by the music of the Sixties and Seventies.

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It includes Daley’s retro and very cool reinterpretation of Mulberry’s classic Antony bag, which ranges in size from a mini for your phone, to a giant oversized number that would work for a mini break. There are also bucket and patchwork hats, and music-inspired accessories including a plectrum pouch, saxophone and guitar straps.

Small Antony £1095Small Antony £1095
Small Antony £1095

Tactile details include whipstitch, braiding and fringing, along with a palette of oak, navy and ochre.

To accompany the capsule, they’ve also created a film, available to view on the Mulberry website, featuring a specially written composition by Sons of Kemet frontman Shabaka Hutchings, vocals by Lianne La Havas, and appearances from those involved with talent development charity, Tomorrow’s Warriors.

We asked the designer a few questions, below.

Does your Scottish heritage inform your design?

Mini Antony with Fringes £695Mini Antony with Fringes £695
Mini Antony with Fringes £695

I have a Scottish mother and Jamaican father, and often refer to my dual heritage when designing. I constantly explore and unpick different strands of my identity in a way that feels wholly honest and authentic. Whether it’s developing tartan wool in Selkirk, knitwear in Hawick or wax cottons from Dundee, it's always important to support Scottish craftsmanship and manufacturing within my collections. It was a privilege to hold my first exhibition at the V&A Dundee back in 2019-2020. It’s important to inspire the next generation of creative thinkers within the Scottish diaspora.

How did the Mulberry collaboration happen?

When the project was put forward, I was so excited to work with Mulberry, which is such a storied leather goods house - especially in its birthday year. I also thought it was really interesting that they weren’t just looking to work with me, but also with other members of London’s community of growing brands. It’s been amazing to collaborate on a campaign that celebrates my core values of community, craftmanship and culture.

Which piece are you happiest with?

Nicholas DaleyNicholas Daley
Nicholas Daley

My favourite would probably be the Oversized Antony. It’s a bag you can travel the world with and celebrates all the design aspects within the collection. We also included many additional features, including pocket details which make it a bag for life. I am looking forward to wearing mine and seeing how it ages beautifully over time.

Were there any technical challenges?

It was really exciting to develop artisanal styles with the Mulberry team that they’d never worked on before. For example, it was the first time they’d created a guitar or saxophone strap, but they were so open and supportive about bringing new ideas to life. The whole process was rigorous, but the level of craftsmanship exceeded my expectations. The distinct colours of the collection helps to capture the mood and inspiration. These include a patchwork of earthy tones - a creative, eclectic and vibrant mix. I referenced colour palettes and tones from Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew Album cover which is one of my favourite LPs.

How important is sustainability?

Oversized Antony £1795Oversized Antony £1795
Oversized Antony £1795

I really admire Mulberry’s support of British craftsmanship, as well as its stance on sustainability. There’s definitely a strong sense of alignment between us in these respects. Mulberry still manufactures a high percentage of leather goods at their Somerset factory and source highly graded leathers from their selected tanneries. The cotton materials worked within the range use a percentage of eco-cotton fibres. We made a conscious effort to work with sustainable materials and fabrics.

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Was it important for the bags and accessories to be utilitarian, as well as aesthetically pleasing?

During the design process, I was conscious of creating a collection with musicians in mind, interpreting the task at hand like problem-solving. I would keep asking myself, how could I create this garment or this accessory which complements and elevates the musician but also has the freedom and the movement for these guys to do what they do best? The collection is made to be worn by people who can appreciate and make the most of every single detail, both from an aesthetic and functional point of view.

Are you hoping to create more unisex designs, or branch out into womenswear?

Yes, I would love to continue working on designs which cross all genders and generations. This collaboration has been great as hopefully it will show my story and design aesthetic to a much wider demographic. The Antony bag is a great style within the Mulberry archive which has fluidity, so it appeals to me and women. This was the key reason for working on this style and I feel it works on multiple design levels.

Are accessories and bags usually part of your remit and what do you have to think about when designing them?

Accessories have been a strong part of my brand’s DNA over the past few collections. I’ve worked mainly with hand knitted and crochet styles which have become iconic features to the brand. Collaborating with Mulberry has been a great eye opener when it comes to learning more on how to approach accessories, especially leather and suede bags which will be functional and timeless that can pass down through generations.

Are musicians of the past and present your muses?

I created this range with the musicians and talents that I've worked with in mind. It's almost like I was creating an accessories wardrobe for them to wear on stage. I was also heavily inspired by people that I’ve always admired, both sonically and stylistically - Miles Davis, Roy Ayers, Jimmy Hendrix, Prince and Bob Dylan among them.

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