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Jack Wills Taps Richard Nicoll

The designer will lend the British high street clothing and accessories brand a dash of urban designer sophistication.

LONDON — Richard Nicoll is poised to lend Jack Wills, the British high street clothing and accessories brand targeted at university-age consumers, a dash of urban designer sophistication.

This story first appeared in the February 20, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

On Wednesday, Nicoll was named creative director of the brand, a part-time role, and he will continue to design his own label. He showed his fall collection last weekend at London Fashion Week, a mix of sporty shapes with opulent fabrics and details.

Jack Wills’ chief executive officer Wendy Becker said Nicoll’s collections have “a global appeal, but he is a British designer at heart and will lead the creative direction of our brand into its next important phase.”

Nicoll told WWD he was approached about a number of positions recently, but decided on Jack Wills because he thought that it was an “interesting and unusual choice,” and one that could provide a different experience from his own brand. “I feel that our aesthetics are separate, but I understand the existing Jack Wills DNA,” he said. “I can bring timeless, sport luxe with a playful, British edge.”

His first collection will be for spring 2015 and will drop in December.

Nicoll said he’s looking forward to learning about other areas of the business, “particularly the international retail sector” and “big-business product development.”

Jack Wills currently has 78 stores worldwide: 60 in the U.K. and Ireland; 11 in the U.S.; four in the Middle East, and three in Hong Kong.

“I feel that through my varied design experience, with Cerruti, Louis Vuitton, Topshop and Fred Perry, and with the support of Jack Wills’ amazing adviser network, which includes Rose Marie Bravo, I can bring something potent to the existing DNA,” the designer said.

The British-born, Australian-raised Nicoll is a 2002 graduate of London’s Central Saint Martins, and freelanced for Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton before striking out on his own in 2005. Nicoll made his debut at London Fashion Week in February 2006 and has shown every season since. In 2008, he was awarded three Association Nationale pour le Développement des Arts de la Mode prizes.

Nicoll, whose latest men’s and women’s collections were an ode to bright color and texture with street influences, said he planned to introduce “ready-to-wear values” to Jack Wills’ design process, and bring unity to the collection across all categories “so that whether we are designing a sweatshirt or a party piece, the collection sits together as a whole and can be worn as such — the way that people really wear clothes.”

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