Nathan Hicks is living his dream. Starting out in visual merchandising more than 30 years ago, he has worked for the likes of Selfridges, Matchesfashion.com and Joseph before recently joining T.M.Lewin as head of visual communication. Here, Hicks reflects on his time at Joseph, shares his plans for his new role and considers possible trends for the year ahead.
RF. You’ve recently joined T.M.Lewin as Head of Visual Communication. What drew you to this brand?
NH. There were many factors for joining T.M.Lewin – the size / scale of the business, a different product type, the ambition of the brand and team, and also the opportunity to channel all my experience into a brand that wants to change direction. The fact that I was joining at the start of this new journey [meant] I could really impact and drive a positive change.
RF. What plans do you have in your new role?
NH. To help define and establish a creative language; a handwriting to elevate the product and raise the standard of all visual aspects, and ultimately how the brand is positioned.
RF. You received numerous awards for your work at Joseph Fashion. What did you enjoy about being part of this brand?
NH. The creative autonomy that I held at Joseph gave me the freedom to experiment in so many ways. Each scheme had to be better than the last one, constantly pushing for perfection and wanting to create something truly unique and unexpected.
RF. What was your most memorable display?
NH. I have so many to choose from but probably my most memorable installation was the ‘Tunnel of Lace’ which for me was the first time I really creatively pushed the boundaries of how a prop can translate into an unconventional space. It was also my first ever interactive display, where the consumer could participate in the experience of the installation from the inside out. Also, all the elements from the prop, product, mannequins, styling etc seemed to fit together perfectly.
RF. You often collaborate with outside creative agencies. Why is this so important to you?
NH. Working for Joseph meant there was a real juxtaposition between the strict philosophy of working in a single brand and then the contrast of all the multibrand designers. It was then even more relevant to find the right creative partners that fit with Joseph’s aesthetic and could bring the right tone of voice to collaborate with on so many varied projects
RF. How do you keep the creative juices flowing?
NH. Research, Research, Research! I literally spend countless hours scanning all forms of inspiration, from editorial publications, seasonal shows, social media platforms and art / cultural references to try and keep ahead of the game.
RF. What festive schemes have caught your eye this year?
NH. Bergdorfs in NYC always deliver and this year was no exception. Their attention to detail is impeccable. And they always get the right balance of ‘prop vs product’, which I believe is fundamental in any display. You have to get this right and so many brands lose sight of this basic rule. Also Annabel’s of Mayfair Christmas Tree façade was fabulous!
RF. What trends do you see in emerging in 2019?
NH. You can feel there is a real unrest growing across the retail sector with the daily news of so many retailers in trouble, which then leads to negativity and over caution in creative licence. [It’s] ironic as the brands that do embrace change are proving to be the most successful. So for me, I hope that the trends that will emerge in 2019 are creativity, emotional connection, wit and artistry.
RF. Are there any trends you wish would disappear?
NH. Safe, bland, formulaic…