Nick Graham: Not your Average JOE

Image courtesy of nick graham.com

Image courtesy of nickgraham.com

Everyone loves JOE BOXER, but do you know the man behind the brand, NICK GRAHAM? The genius behind one of America’s favorite underwear brands, Nick Graham is not only the brains behind the household name, but a maverick who considers himself a cultural archaeologist.

And so he is. A man full of passion, ideas and information, Nick Graham has many sides to his  life. In the past, Nick’s style experiences included launching rockets into space, live streaming fashion shows from airplane hangers in Iceland, and developing the first transatlantic fashion show with his good friend, Richard Branson.  Similar to Richard’s reputation, Nick Graham is a man full of adventure who also carries a heart of gold. A huge advocate of AIDS and breast cancer awareness, Nick is also a huge spokesman for literacy.

Images courtesy of nick graham.com

Images courtesy of nickgraham.com

A man of English heritage and a Canadian upbringing it appears that Nick was destined to be a quirky gentleman. Thus, a true renegade of style, Nick is determined to restructure the way we view fashion and now menswear. His latest enterprise, best entitled with his own signature, is a focus on what he dons a ‘Post Prep’ look for men.  Packaging men’s quality shirts with quirky bow ties and ties, Nick has developed a new form of one stop shopping for men.  Allowing men to have easy options are elements of style that are typical of Nick Graham, and are revolutionary for men to dress up without too much fuss leaving enough mental space for fun, color, and conversation.

In a world obsessed with branding, marketing, and image, Nick understands how the pieces of the puzzle can nicely come together to convey messages of cultural change that will not only sale, but can inspire many to create a better future.

Fashion Reverie: Everybody loves JOE BOXER; it’s a household name.  What do we need to know to love NICK GRAHAM, the menswear brand?

Nick Graham: Joe Boxer was for me a happy accident. I moved to San Francisco in the 80’s and needed new underwear. Needless to say it got out of hand. Nick Graham is more strategic.  Menswear to me is shifting to what I call Post-Prep, a new dynamic of dressing that is opening up more options for guys everywhere, and I don’t see any one particular company addressing that developing market.

Image courtesy of nick graham.com

Image courtesy of nickgraham.com

Fashion Reverie: You as the founder, Nick Graham, have Canadian roots. You also have a flair for the dramatic, which is not very Canadian. Or is it?

Nick Graham: Canadians are very dramatic when it comes to hockey, beer, and Celine Dion.  But, Canada also breeds some of the funniest comedians around. Mike Myers, Jim Carrey, Seth Rogen, Leslie Nielson are all Canadian, and somewhat dramatic. There is a very high level of irony in the water in Canada, so that makes us who we are. Of course, there is also Justin Bieber, but for now, America can have him.

Fashion Reverie: How did Canada influence you?

Nick Graham: I always use some aspect of Canada in one of my lines every year.  In my first season of Joe Boxer, I sold the “Ultimate Hoser” a plaid flannel boxer that came with a detachable raccoon tail. I sold them to Saks Fifth Avenue in New York and they sold out in one day. Next fall, I am doing Eau de Moose, a collection of rustic ties and textured shirting fabrics that are built for urban wildlife.

Fashion Reverie: You have a definite “English Gentleman’s” sensibility. It’s also clean and quirky. Do you think American men can get into that sort of fashion as adult and fun?

Nick Graham: No one does Brit better than Ralph Lauren, so yes American men are already into it. He’s brilliant, and a real idol of mine. He creates a world that is firmly planted in English lifestyle, and is better at doing it than the Brits are. My parents are British, but I grew up on a ranch in Alberta where the only thing bespoke were the things on my bike tires. My great grandfather was Sir James Dunn, a Canadian industrialist, who was very dapper and well dressed. I remember as a young boy growing up on the farm, my mother gave me a very fancy men’s silk scarf one day. She had dated Rex Harrison the actor and he had given it to her. I would wear that scarf with my cowboy boots, a la Ralph Lauren.

Images courtesy of nick graham.com

Images courtesy of nickgraham.com

Fashion Reverie: Your newest menswear collection is purposefully packaged with a shirt including a tie and bowtie to match.   Do you think this type of packaging will influence men to shop and dress better?

Nick Graham: The idea is to make it easy for guys to look cool without spending a lot of time thinking about it. Most of the guys I know have ADD when it comes to shopping (including me) and this is like a cheaper, safer, more stylish medication for it. Plus, it makes great gifts.

Fashion Reverie: Do you find in America that branding and marketing is much more important than design? Do you see this as advantageous or the opposite?

Nick Graham: Design and Product rule everything, and always will. Branding and Marketing are just by-products of a great product, and when a product is good you hardly need to market it. Lots of people think you can market anything, but if the product/service sucks, it’s not going to change the consumers mind. Apple is a prime example of that.

Images courtesy of nick graham.com

Images courtesy of nickgraham.com

Fashion Reverie: The idea of the two-tone bowtie/tie is clever. I love your flair for quirky design exemplified in everyday living. Do you yourself live in a world of whimsy?

Nick Graham: The idea of Post Prep is to take the familiar and make it new. That’s why the ties are that way, they look very straightforward but have a little hidden element that makes them pop.  Yes I like whimsy, but it has to be smart. I like making people kind of lighten up and not take stuff so seriously. I do that through design, some people do it through music, film or art. Someone was in my showroom last week and said it was a cross between “Pee Wee’s Playhouse” and an American Paul Smith, which I thought was funny.

Fashion Reverie: You’ve developed a partnership with PHAIDON, Why?

Nick Graham: I love books and I also think they make you look smart. I love the way the covers of the books blended with our shirts, it created a narrative with our products that I liked. Someone said it looks like you had Robert De Niro promoting your brand, but no, its just the cover.

Images courtesy of nick graham.com

Images courtesy of nickgraham.com

Fashion Reverie: Any other collaboration in the works that you care to discuss?

Nick Graham: I’m working with my friend Brian Cox, the UK physicist, on his tour of the US. It’s a comedy show about science … or a science show about comedy, I can’t remember. It’s in March of 2015. Lots of other stuff is coming, too.

Fashion Reverie: Do you have any ideas that you have to extinguish or do you simply file them away for the future?

Nick Graham: My philosophy is there are no new ideas and there are no old ideas, either. Ideas are just that, ideas. It’s when they became real that they become businesses. I have a ton of ideas, and there are a lot of them in the file!

Nick Graham’s world is available on www.nickgraham.com

—Kelly Mills

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