Meet Nikke Horrigan, an Australian fashion designer from Ipswich, Queensland whose career has taken quite the unexpected journey. He’s a little rough around the edges but his gleaming smile, creative energy and passion for design has kept him unwavered as he faces the highs and lows of launching a startup.
To the eye, Horrigan was made for the trade, but his passion for design has pushed him to courageously follow his dream. The transition from working in a 'bloke’s field' to moving in front of a sewing machine raised a few eyebrows and quickly weeded out the supporters, or lack thereof.
“People kind of laughed at me and I still don’t think [they] will take me seriously.”
The entrepreneur’s decision to start a fashion business seems to be a rebellious move considering he's been raised to work in a more traditional industry. He shares a few intimate details about his home life, living dynamic with his family and how he’s previously lost his circle of friends because of his new direction. This would normally shake anyone to the core, but Horrigan seems to have this stability and independence of walking fearlessly without a cheer team.
“It takes a lot of self-belief and you have to realise that you are on your own.”
“If I want something, I’ll get it … don’t be weak, if [I] want something then I’ll get out of my comfort zone and go for it,” he says boldly.
When Horrigan left high school he followed his dad’s advice and became a boilermaker then worked on aircrafts all before ending up in the coalmines.
“I hated working 21 days straight with 12 hours days,” says the designer.
“I needed a change, so I left my job, went to Europe and decided to start this fashion business.”
Hoping to catch a break in his home city, he attempted making connections in production but the challenge proved to be difficult.
“I walked the streets in Brisbane trying to find manufacturers, but no one wanted to give me ago because I was a no one.”
Regardless of the knock backs, his determination and drive kept him pushing forward. He then bit the bullet and decided to fly over to China. Not knowing how to speak the language, Horrigan was lucky enough to meet a key Australian manufacturer that became a crucial contact in producing his first collection.
Fast forward a few years and Nikke Horrigan is now leading the way as a luxe, menswear street style brand. And this month, the designer will be showcasing at the Ekka’s Natural Fibres Fashion Parades where his collection will be seen by the masses.
“I'm excited because it's such a great platform to celebrate everything fashion. I think everyone involved has done such an amazing job in helping emerging designer's get the needed support they deserve.”
What can we expect to see down the runway?
“My latest collection is focused around natural fibres which is the theme at this year's Ekka Natural Fibres Fashion Parades. I'm very excited to be apart of it as it's been a longstanding tradition here in Brisbane. The core of my latest collection is linen and cotton denim. I fell in love with these fabrics because of their texture and their natural characteristics - there's something about them that feels very natural and honest to me,” he explains.
With such a colourful journey that has led him to this point, I have to ask what inspires the young talent.
“My family and close friends, but especially my mother. She's such an amazing and wonderful person and if it weren't for her, I think I'd be lost,” he says passionately.
But like the many fashion greats, Horrigan looks to the icons for mentorship. “Ralph Lauren is definitely my inspiration as a designer because he came from a non-traditional fashion background and went on to building a global lifestyle brand.” He continues, “I also think my desire to live a life that allows me to be creative and expressive is very important to me. I've been told I'm quite spiritual and I guess I've always followed my heart when making decisions, which has not always been the best move,” he chuckles.
With the creative’s sheer determination to succeed and a strong point of difference in the street style market, it’s unquestionable that the label will continue to grab Australia’s attention. But what is installed for Nikke Horrigan over the coming months?
“There's so many directions I would like to take the label but I'm taking it one step at a time. My next step … would be to create an active wear collection. I'm a very sporty person, I spend everyday either playing sports or exercising, so I feel it's only natural that I would develop something around my own lifestyle.”
He goes on to say, “I'm currently working with manufactures to develop eco-friendly fabrics. Though this has been a challenge, I'm determined and I know I'm not the only one trying to do the same.”
Horrigan isn’t going to let these minor road blocks stop him from getting the answers he needs and putting the right measures in place to run a successful business.
“I think it's my right as a designer to take responsibility in supporting fair workers rights and conditions. I've seen first hand the effects of disadvantaged people [in the workplace] as my mother grew up in the slums of Manila, Philippines.”
Book your tickets today for the Ekka’s Natural Fibres Fashion Parades to see the showcase of Nikke Horrigan’s latest collection. Be sure to follow him on Instagram and visit his website today to peruse his latest designs.