Most Australian designers try their luck in Sydney before heading overseas. Nicholas Morley has done it the other way around—but then he doesn’t boast your typical fashion pedigree. A hairstylist-turned–streetwear designer, Morley launched his first label, Buddhist Punk, in London in 1999 while based on the Indonesian island of Bali.
He’s still Bali-based, but after eventually splitting with his backers and ending a 10-month stint as creative director of Australian surf-urban label Mambo, Morley’s latest venture is Nicholas X Morley.
Launched in Sydney in April, the colorful, print-heavy debut spring collection has a kindred rock ’n’ roll–meets-surf spirit to Buddhist Punk. Women’s wear accounts for half the range, with cotton jersey baby-doll dresses, singlets and singlet dresses in graphic, often fluoro screen prints, worked with leggings, skinny jeans and hipster microskirts in Morley’s trademark crossbones logo (hence the X). There’s a little swimwear as well as jewelry, shoes and bags. Prices start from 60 Australian dollars, or about $50 at current exchange, for a singlet emblazoned with slogans such as “Skulls are not dead” or “Too skinny” to 350 Australian dollars, or $295, for an embellished silk chiffon microdress.
“I want to be streetwear, but I also want to offer something that is a little bit more expensive and detailed—I can produce both quite easily,” says Morley, who is not the only Australian manufacturing, or living, in Bali. Morley’s girlfriend, Sydney designer Alice McCall, has 30 percent of her production there.
He adds, “The beauty in producing in Indonesia is that labor here is still quite cheap and it’s still very well done—you’re here for the weather, the surf and the hand-finishing, basically.” Hoping to “test the waters” in Sydney, at press time Morley had collected 200,000 Australian dollars, or $168,000, in wholesale orders from 32 Australian stockists as well as California’s American Rag.
“I’m back,” says Morley, who will work with Tokyo agency Jack of All Trades for the Japanese market and is scoping out distributors in the U.K. and Europe. Morley has a first-year wholesale volume target of 750,000 Australian dollars, or $630,000, and hopes to open a Nicholas X Morley boutique in the Balinese tourist village of Seminyak by Christmas.
The only celebrity in Morley’s front row on April 28 was Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe—a far cry from the raucous rock fest that was Buddhist Punk’s New York Fashion Week debut in September 2004. After Morley hooked up some merchandise collaborations with The Rolling Stones and AC/DC, among others, that show attracted a swag of celebs, notably Stones progenies Theodora and Alexandra Richards and Elizabeth Jagger, on the runway.
But, while Buddhist Punk rapidly evolved into a 6 million Australian dollar, or $5 million, brand, Morley says he plans to take his time with this start-up. “I’d be quite happy to keep it a little bit smaller,” says Morley. “I don’t need to be megarich—I just want to have a comfortable lifestyle and make cool things that people are going to want to wear. I don’t ever want to get too big so that I’m just working day in, day out. I like to surf three hours a day.”
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty