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When Peter Nygård joined, and subsequently took over, Nathan Jacobs’ Winnipeg-based suit company in the late Sixties, he knew next to nothing about designing clothes; he was a businessman, after all. But he was up to the challenge: The company faced bankruptcy and its stodgy styles didn’t work with the changing fashion landscape of the time. Fast-forward 35 years, and he’s sitting on top of a $500-million Canadian fashion empire.
This story first appeared in the December 11, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
While Nygård opts for a larger-than-life showmanship in his personal life, he keeps it simple when it comes to clothes. “I am not into avant-garde fashion,” he said in a 1993 interview. “I am creating commercial product catering to businesswomen between the ages of 25 and 45.” This means well-tailored clothes for every aspect of a career woman’s hectic life, delivered in seven collections: Peter Nygård Signature, the bridge line; Bianca Nygård, the better offering, and the moderate lines Nygård Sport, Nygård Collection, Tan Jay, Aliå and Aliå Sport.
Recently, Nygård has focused on fabric technology. What good, he figures, is a beautiful silk dress or suede skirt if it only takes one mishandled glass of red wine to ruin it? So, from his sophisticated eveningwear to cozy cotton streetwear, Nygård’s looks come in stain-resistant, wrinkle-free materials. And further pushing the tech card, the entire design process itself is done via computers.