AN INTERVIEW WITH NIKKI HENDRICKS, FOUNDER OF HENDRICKS DESIGNS

Nikki Hendricks is a Washington D.C. based garment designer who incorporates bold patterns and eclectic materials in her designs. With a background in fine arts, she works conceptually when creating themes for her lines.

Nikki draws inspiration from the futurism genre and emphasizes underlying content about race, religion, gender and sexuality. Different cultures and identities are consistent within her collections, in order to create a universal awareness about important customs. Her brand, Nikki Hendricks Designs, includes looks that are gender neutral, masculine and feminine. She recently participated in New York, Paris, and Milan Fashion Week shows, and is currently developing her brand through the Macy’s Incubator under the DC Fashion Foundation. Hendricks Designs was founded by Nikki Hendricks at   the age of 23. She was born and raised in Washington,   DC, a city known for its politics and internationally   diverse population, as well as for being the capital of   the United States. Her experiences while in attendance at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in   Baltimore, Maryland that first formed  her career. She was heavily involved in the Office of Diversity where she planned events for people of other races and   minorities of all kinds. She created her first line her   junior year called “La Marine de L’Oshun”, which   translates to “The Navy of the Oshun”. Oshun is the deity or goddess of the Yoruba religion and is known for her affiliation with water, fertility, happiness, and self-confidence. These themes really resonated with  Nikki, and inspired her to create a line based on a futuristic vision of how these themes could be manifested in fashion..

This line helped to launch  her career as she premiered her collection in DC Fashion Week. Later that year, she created a new line for her senior thesis called “The Blends,”  with a theme of inclusivity during a time of great division around the world. She interviewed 20 models with different racial, gender, and religious backgrounds and sexual orientations  about their cultural identities only to realize the similarities in their collective identity of being American. She also asked what symbols they felt best represented them and designed a print to use on fabric including but slightly obscuring each one. Those interviewed chose the feminist symbol, the Black power fist, or a diamond for resilience. Nikki felt that if the model or wearer could relate personally to the garment, it would not only bring them confidence, but also make the clothing feel more special and less objectified.

After graduating from MICA in 2017, Nikki founded her company Nikki Hendricks Designs LLC and presented her “Blends” collection  in New York, Paris, and Milan Fashion Week. She started her residency with the DC Fashion Foundation Incubator at Macy’s located in D.C. where her studio is currently located. She recently debuted her fourth collection, “Half & Half”, in July 2018 at Feeric Fashion Week in Sibiu, Romania. She showed this line at London Fashion Week in September 2018.

 

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AN INTERVIEW WITH NIKKI HENDRICKS X 33 MAGAZINE

 

How did your passion for design start and how your creative process work?

My passion for design started very young. I drew out my own fashion magazines and got my first sewing machine when I was 12 years old. I had an art teacher tell my why sketches were poor and I quit until my second year of college when I transferred to art school There I created my first collection, La Marine de L’Oshun based on an African goddess. I participated in local fashion shows until I received international attention and took my next collection, “The Blends” in Milan and Paris just 3 months after graduating college. My creative process typically starts when developing a concept. I am inspired by pop-culture, politics, and bringing the world together with love. Then I build an inspiration board with content based on my concept and start sketching my designs Music also plays a large role because I feel like it affects culture in a big way. I often listen to Hip/Hop and Rap music when creating it has a big influence on my style. Just like Hip/Hop, I’m loud and in your face, bold, colorful, and not afraid to say what I want, but I love making people feel good and empowered. I also love working with crazy fabrics that are different textures that are eye-catching.

 

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How fashion nowadays helps and motivate you to become a fashion designer?

The fashion world motivates me because it is so big yet so small. There are a lot of avenues of opportunities and once you find your niche, I feel like it is easier to be a designer. The journey of finding my niche is what inspires me to keep going. Finding myself through my brand has been an incredible experience! I feel like like I am really able to express myself and work in my element. I love the direction fashion is moving into and I would love to be apart of it.

Can you tell us a little bit about your references for the last collection?

My last collection, Half & Half, was inspired by my oldest brothers marriage to a Japanese woman. He is  African American, so their child is mixed. They both are raising him to understand and be apart of both cultures and my collection was the blend of both trendy styles and what my nephew style will be like in the future.

Are you sick of people talking about millennials? Do you see yourself as a designer for young people, a new generation?

My mom is always calling me a millennial! She says that we have short attention spans and can be lazy but she always praises this generation on our innovation in technology and culture and our ability to connect with people and places all over the world. As a designer, I constantly see myself and my style evolving and becoming more sophisticated. I think a lot of the youth are obsessed with trends and it will always be hard to keep them happy especially if I don’t embrace trends. I would like my brand to exist for a very long time and for people young at heart no matter what age to enjoy my creations. 

 

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How fashion competitions can change the business industry?  Will you apply at some in the future? 

Fashion competitions have a potential to change the industry by giving designers the opportunity or spotlight they might not have had trying to make it on their own. The money also helps boost the designers ability to build and start their own company. I would love to apply to some international competitions! A couple of friends are pressuring me to do Project Runway in the US and I think I might try out for the next season of the show. I would love to reapply next year to Ferric 33. #Ilovefeeric #feelfeeric

How do you want people to feel when they wear your clothes?

I want people to feel like the best version of themselves while wearing my clothes. I pour my heart and soul into my designs and want people to be able to feel the love and freedom. I believe color, concept and style is the greatest way to communicate those feelings. I spend a lot of time developing my concept so that people can understand and relate to it.

What do you think it’s your best-selling piece from your last collection?

The best selling piece from my last collection have been my jackets. My purses have come in close second.

 

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What do you think about the opportunity of selling your products on online platforms, you think it might be a good showcase for your work and your future?

I think it is important to sell my products on a lot of online platforms. A lot of people are shopping online exclusively and to reach an audience that may not be able to travel to your hometown or read your local newspaper or watch your local news can find out about you. I am currently selling online now at nikkihendricks.shop

 

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What young designers need right now from fashion industry to grow up?

Young designers seriously need investors and major brand collaborations. I think Gucci, after the situation of them using unintentionally using racial imagery is a chance for them to start working with African American independent designers and doing small capsule collections or campaigns with them. That is a great marketing platform and publicity and also supports the designers financially so they can grow their business.  I also think investors should help designers who are hungry for the brand to grow by supporting them financially.

Last song played on your Spotify/iTunes playlist? Who is your favorite artist right now and would you like to see him/her dressed in your collections? 

The last song played on my iTunes was Money by Cardi B. She is my FAVORITE artist right now. The way she rose to fame and remains so humble. She is a city girl just like me! To see someone come from similar beginning’s shine so bright is just so uplifting and inspiring. She always stays true to who she is and vocal on political issues. She is far from perfect just like all of us, and I think people need to remember that and not criticize her so much.  

List us three favorite designers / icons who inspire you.

Dapper Dan

Michelle Obama

Rihanna

They all have had very successful brands with very different products and use their brands to build awareness of what true diversity looks like. 

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