So Street: My journey from streetwear to high fashion and back. Part 3
By the time I get to Phoenix she'll be rising
She'll find the note I left hangin' on her door
She'll laugh when she reads the part that says I'm leavin'
'Cause I've left that girl so many times before.…
I really don't know why I am starting part 3 of the story with the lyrics of the classic Glen Campbell song "By the time I get to Phoenix", suffice to say, I have never been to Phoenix, or ever made it to Oklahoma...although a couple of times I came close to it.
Someone I truly care for told me "you are an artist living in just two rooms of a mansion"...I guess it's a way of saying: you have not capitalized on your assets, or talents as much as you should have...easy to say from a spectator point of view, harder to implement when you are in the trenches...my follow your heart logic (which is hardly logic) has at times, taken me through very large detours. I am sure some of you outhere had similar experiences.
I always had a sense of dissatisfaction for the status quo, and to a certain extent it was so in 1994 as it is today...sometimes they say, as you get older you become more tolerant with the shortcomings of your life....we all have them. Apparently I did not get that memo.
Back to the past: I was just hitting my stride and making some money at something I had a passion for, something I had fought hard to get...and as sure as that feeling of satisfaction started to creep in, I became disenchanted with the progress I was making, and decided it was time to go for something bigger and harder to achieve.
The fact that in the span of less than three years I had change my life around considerably, my career had completely turned around and I was creating and producing product that was being sold by some of the most reputable stores the World over, no longer sufficed. I remember a specific incident that took place around the beginning of 1993, things moved at a faster pace back then...I was exhibiting at the MAGIC show in Las Vegas in the main room, prominent location.
I had a put together a display and a very large booth I designed and constructed with a help of a friend and his motley crew which, housed four collections I had created.
I got most of my work done prior to the actual show, so now I was just basically hanging out as a designer would and should while the salesforce was taking orders. It is early afternoon, on the second day of the show, in walks a senior buyer/distributor for Isetan and Takashimaya the two venerable Japanese department stores, followed by a beehive of assistants, he stops in front of our display, and starts stroking, as one would the back of their favourite pussy cat, one of the knit dresses I had designed for the NISTKA woman collection, I remember I had created this iridescent knit fabric with the color of pale gold trimmed by a faint sky blue.
He kept stroking and talking to his assistants in an excited tone, Japanese is a beautiful language and although I understand almost nothing I could only assume he was impressed, he then proceeded to bow towards me, "Nistka san" he said repeatedly, and then kept on talking in what seemed a very joyful tone...I kept bowing back and smiling, but I had no clue of what he was saying...It really didn't matter, the visit lasted about an hour, upon his departure, he bowed a few more times and left us with orders totally well over $750,000.00. Not bad for an afternoon take...I instantly became that much more attractive to most people that I came across that day and for most of the remaining days of the show...success leaves a scent upon you that makes people turn around and say "hey, I want that...I want to touch it, fuck it, eat it".
I spent the night going from party to party to finally end up in a bed with people I didn't know but sure looked good naked.
Success is also a slippery slope...and in the business of fashion, or any creative endeavor it can become a most unforgiving rival to everyday living, delivering delusional bouts of grandeur which I can only equate to impromptu train wrecks between what's real and what's make-believe.
I was not spared that feeling and at times I succumbed to it. Needless to say and not entirely of my doings, my relationship with our production house became rather strained. My brother Danny, who was incharge of marketing and distribution for N.A.G. (Nistka Apparel Group) was at constant odds with our producers.
We had struck a deal back in late 1992 with a manufacturing and production company headed by a father and son team. The father a sort of patriarchal figure and an archetypal "garmento" could easily get on your nerves at times, however we had a mutual respect for one another in spite of some epic shouting matches in the middle of the production floor, my brother and business partner Danny however could not get past the suspicion that he was taking a bigger cut than he should be allowed to, he accused them of skimping off the top...
Myself, I was primarily concerned with deadlines, since my job as creative director was to come out with several lines every three months, not including private labels (Urban outfitters, The LAB, Contempo Casuals) and special projects, one year we designed the merchandize for the Pearl Jam World Tour, clothing for Chris Isaak, several special requests from Production companies stylists, etc... Bottom lines and percentages where something I kept to the side.
The tipping point came in the spring of 1993, by a series of coincidences our New York rep had managed to get me a spot in a group show that would be part of New York Fashion Week, the show called "Girls Rule" was to showcase the latest trends in streetwear especially geared towards Girls, I was there with Nistka, Quicksilver with Roxy and the rest were all East Coast (New York) brands, The show was a success and it opened up the floodgates for me as a California based designer showing in New York as part of the official program.
Needless to say later that year I submitted an application for a solo show with the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) they own the Fashion Calendar and stage New York Fashion Week and were know in those years to be very territorial as far as the designers they allowed to show in New York, let's just say California designers were not high on their list. I remember having to submit sketches and samples and essays...By what I thought was a miracle, I got accepted to show NISTKA as part of the program. I would show Winter 1995.
I was given as a venue the Trustee room of the New York Public Library. A huge turn of the 19th Century wood paneled room that exudes old world elegance and old money opulence. The cost of putting together a show at any of the main fashion weeks in the world of fashion: London, Paris, New York and Milano is taxing for most designers and as such remains a dream, Danny and I thought that this was the big break that we wanted and we would do anything to get it.
Our partners of course were of a different opinion. They thought we were veering off course spending a frivolous amount of money (I think the bill was close to $50,000 even after cutting corners), and we were just doing fine without it. That time Danny and I, won the tug-o-war...
Stay tuned and subscribe you won't wanna miss part 4...