Founded by British fashion school drop-out Thelonius Poon and Toronto-based hip-hop dancer David Forteau, NOZO was created to provide a Canadian streetwear alternative to U.S. and overseas brands. Celebrated for its massive patterns, intermixing of prime materials and killer silhouettes, NOZO is flat-out bonkers stuff worn by the daring! We sat down with bold busybody Eric Ing, the CEO and designer of NOZO to chat about the wild fashion brand and hear Ing’s thoughts on this year’s hot trends.
Can you tell us about NOZO’s point of view?
NOZO has two sections. NOZO Black Label is our high-end custom couture line that allows us to fully express the brand’s design capability, and experiment with fashion. NOZO Blue Label was designed as more of an everyday basic collection of clothes, with more attainable prices too.
We really focused on being as wild and out-going as possible. A lot of Canadian streetwear brands are fairly conservative, don’t use a great deal of colour or patterns, and are very wearable. We wanted to be that brand that just made crazy clothing for the sake of making crazy clothing, and build our following up from that.
Can you tell us about NOZO’s aesthetic?
Our aesthetic is no-holds-barred, over-the-top, off-the-dome wild and fun. We wanted to keep the first collection as sharp, edgy, and artistic as possible. The second collection had the most amount of styles we’ve ever put out, including a ton of knits. For this season and next season, we’d like to head in a bit of an abstract art direction. We really want to push the boundaries of what people think a Toronto street wear label is capable of.
All of your pieces are unisex and locally made, how did that come about?
A lot of our pieces are limited run, so it’s easier to get them done locally, some of our pieces from our new collection are even made to order. At the previous brands we’ve worked at, we’ve always managed to surprisingly amass a good amount of female fans, who would buy up all of our smaller sizes, leaving us with huge piles of XL tees at the end of every season. We decided to size the brand down one, make it more fitted, allowing our female fans to be very happy with the result. Although we’re a guy’s streetwear brand, we’ve made the necessary changes to allow girls to enjoy our clothes too.
Can you tell me about the new NOZO collection?
This happens to be the very first interview we’ve divulged any information about our new collection in. It’s titled “NOZO 2014: Demons Within and Without” and it’s inspired by a short film we shot with Canadian Screen Guild Award Wining actor Jahmil French, from the Degrassi TV Series. This collection is intended to tell the story of a troubled psychiatrist who prescribes and abuses a drug that makes him see visions of another dimension, where a demon resides. The collection is our first time doing heavy-duty graphics, as our previous collections have been mainly focused on cut and sew.
Overall, what trends can people expect this season?
All the big fashion houses are doing crazy huge face prints on suits, crewnecks, jackets, everything they can humanly print on. Printing technology has improved greatly in the past few years, and all of us designers are fully taking advantage of that.
What silhouettes and textiles are must-wear this season?
I’d recommend keeping it baggy and avant-garde, less black, add a bit more colour and be a bit more fearless with wearing mismatching patterns. A lot of streetwear brands are mimicking the high-end brands and incorporating as much vegan leather into their new collections as possible. Vegan leather makes that high-end look a lot more accessible, and less damaging to the other species on this planet. Last year we already saw a ton of it, this year it’s going to be on every single shelf.
What key pieces should we be wearing this season?
For spring, I recommend everybody go get a pair of leggings and basketball shorts if you don’t already own a pair. It’s practical, comfortable, keeps dry, and makes leggings a bit more masculine for guys to wear. Leggings also look cool with sneakers and boots. They must be basketball shorts, and preferably Jordan basketball shorts if you want to keep it street. Or PYREX!
What type of palette will be trendy this season?
I think this year will be a lot less dark, people will be more confident to wear outfits with more contrast, while still maintaining a sense of seriousness and sophistication in their outfits. I want to see more people wear clothing with interesting textures and construction.