Meet the Person #17: Nick Williams (Partner 4th Avenue Graphics | Graphic Designer | Consultant | Speaker | author ‘Denim Branded’)

Today the 17th episode of the topic Meet the Person with Nick Williams. This topic Meet the Person is about passionate people, people in the denim industry. In Meet the Person I will give you an insight into their life; who are they, what are they doing, what makes them so special, where are they working on, etc. etc.

This new episode of Meet the Person is with Nick Williams, graphic designer and author of the upcoming denim book ‘Denim Branded’  which will come out by the end of August. Thanks for sharing your great denim story Nick!

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Nick Williams

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Can you introduce yourself (who are you and what are you doing):

I run a graphic design studio, 4th Avenue Graphics, with my business partner and wife Jenny. We specialise in designing graphics and artwork for the apparel industry. As a graphic designer and have a passion for denim, vintage and heritage brands although we work with a select few graphic designers and artists who have varying styles. Our client list includes Lee Jeans, Patagonia, True Religion, Triumph Motorcycles, Farah, Schott, LL Bean, The Gap, Disney Star Wars and Lucky Brand.

How did you entered the denim industry:

In 1999 I moved from New York (where I was working as a textile and graphic designer) back to London. I got a job in the graphics department at Levi Strauss & Co. EMEA in Brussels. It was from here that my passion for denim stemmed. One of my tasks was recreating artwork from original vintage labels and hardware. I traveled to the San Francisco archive often to study original vintage trims so that I could recreate them digitally. They would then be used on the reproduction garments for the LVC collection. I learned a lot at Levi Strauss & Co. over the 6 years I was there. Everyone was so passionate about denim, it had a great vibe. I eventually worked my way up to head of graphics, my enthusiasm for all things denim (especially the graphic side) never waned, even after I left.

What are you doing at the moment: 

I am just about to have my first book published, called Denim Branded: ‘Jeanswear’s Evolving Design Detais’, I have been working on with Jenny. For the many years that I have been designing, I have collected a library of books and magazines for reference. As much as I love them, I have wished that I had one book that was solely dedicated to the branding elements of denim. There are some amazing books out there about different aspects of denim and denim culture but I always find myself gravitating towards branding images.

I especially love looking through Japanese magazines such as Clutch and Lightening as they contain so much of this good stuff. After much talk about the possibility of putting together a book, Jenny encouraged me to pursue the idea. With the Kingpins show offering to sponsor the book and Schiffer publishing signing us up, we were in business.  The book breaks down every element of denim branding from the rivet and zipper to embroidery and labelling.

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Cover of Denim Branded: ‘Jeanswear’s Evolving Design Detais’ by Nick Williams and Jenny Corpuz. The book will be released by the end of August and you can now pre-order it here at Amazon.

My biggest ask and task was to produce a book that had the consent of every brand that I wanted to include in the book. One of the reasons was for copyright purposes but the main one was that I wanted to ensure that every brand in the book was happy to be included, this also meant that any information noted was as accurate as possible because it came directly from them. We were really lucky with all the brands that graciously agreed to be part of it. It also meant that we had control of the images and photographs that are in the book. We worked with some extremely talented photographers who captured some amazing shots. The cover image is of a pair of vintage Casey Jones kids overalls from the private collection of Evan Morrison (@gcdrygoodsco) and photographed by the very talented @joeyseawell both based in Greensboro.

Some of the brands in the book include the ‘Big 3’ (Levi Strauss & Co., Wrangler and Lee Jeans), Carhartt, Scovill, Talon and many other heritage brands as well as amazing contemporary brands such as Rogue Territory, Dawson Denim, Denham, Kings of Indigo, Endrime, Evisu, Eat Dust, Butcher of Blue, Left Field and Tellason and many, many more. All of whom help tell the story of denim branding from its heritage years through to the current day. The book illustrates how heritage brands have influenced contemporary ones and how some contemporary brands have taken tradition and history and put their own twist and personality into their own unique brands.

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Sample images from Denim Branded book by Bobbie Hamzioui , Joey Seawell , Son of a Stag and Levi Strauss & Co., Lee jeans and Wrangler Archives.

Where are you the most proud of so far as it comes to your work:

My time working at Levi’s on LVC and having the book published.

What’s the biggest trend(s) in denim right now in your opinion:

I still see heritage as being a big influence for a lot of branding in denim still and I don’t see this going away. This may always be a constant as it makes up such a big part of the history of denim. I love what FDMTL has been doing with Dickies and the Junya Watanabe x Carhartt collaboration. I like the mix of history and modernity.

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FDMTL  and Junya Watanabe images.

And what would be the next denim trend:

I see a trend towards 80’s and 90’s denim era. Levi’s are already dipping in to there Silver Tab Archive. I’d love to see a revisit to the early 90’s Diesel Old Glory collections.

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Diesel Old Glory images. See more of this collection here.

What’s your favourite denim brand(s):

Obviously the Big 3 (Levi’s, Lee and Wrangler) for heritage. I also like Rogue Territory, Left Field and Tellason.

Where is your inspiration coming from:

I love digging around flea markets for old magazine and books as well as vintage paper labels and booklets from the 40’s – 70’s. It’s getting harder and harder to find good stuff nowadays though. I have a large collection of books. I’ve always had a lot of books from Schiffer and was extremely happy when they picked up our concept for a book on denim branding. When I worked in house at Levi Strauss & Co. we had a lot of Schiffer books for reference, I like Rin Tanaka’s ‘Motocycle Jackets’, and ‘Jeans of the old West’ by Michael Harris. I’m also big fan of all the My Freedom books by Rin Tanaka and they have been my go to design bibles over the last 15 years

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 Schiffer books images: Rin Tanaka & Michael Allen Harris.

What’s your favorite denim item in your closet en why:

My LVC replica Lot 213 Type 1 jacket and my Tellason jeans.

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Levi’s LVC Type 2 jacket and Tellason jeans.

What’s your favorite denim fit:

Tellason Ladbrook Grove slim tapered.

What’s your favorite denim city:

Greensboro North Carolina is definitely up there as one of my favourites. They renamed it Jeansboro, it’s the home of Cone Denim and Blue Bell Wrangler. You can still see and feel the history in the city. The original building where CC and Homer Hudson started the Hudson Overall Company on South Elm Street is now the denim store Hudson’s Hill. It is so sad that the White Oak Plant is now closed (Read all about it here). You can still visit the Revolution Mill that has now been converted into living and office space with restaurants and a small museum about Cone. Going to Greensboro to photograph the Wrangler archives at their head office was such an important part of our journey whilst researching and working on the book.

It was there that we met with denim expert and collector, Evan Morrison who is a fountain of denim knowledge. That and our visit to the Lee Jeans head office in Merriam near Kansas City were real highlights. I guess my favourite denim city has to be San Francisco. It is so rich in the history of denim. I especially love thinking about the necessity and importance of the denim overall to the working man during the Gold Rush era, imagining hundreds of ships bursting with thousands of prospectors arriving into San Francisco Bay hoping to discover their fortune and how a Latvian tailor took a chance by writing to his fabric supplier in San Francisco with a proposal of funding the patent for his ground breaking concept of a rivet in exchange for a share in the profits.

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Levi’s, Lee, Wrangler and Cone mills.

Who’s your favourite denim designer:

I can genuinely say that I am a big fan of all of the brands in the book. I still love the first Levi’s Red collection designed by Rikke Korff  back in 1999, I think it still looks fresh today and it was great to be working at Levi’s at that time.

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Images of Levi’s Red.

What do you think it’s the best invention in the denim industry:

It has to go back to The Rivet as the biggest game changer and what many consider the birth of the modern jean.

Who’s your denim hero & why:

My historical denim hero would be Levi Strauss and my modern day one is Andrew Olah of the Kingpins Show for taking the chance on our Denim Branded book and sponsoring it.

What’s your favorite denim store:
General Quarters in LA and Left Field in Queens NY.

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 General Quarters in LA and Left Field in Queens NY.

What are your ultimate denim accessories:

My Red Wing boots.

Who do you love to see in the next Meet the Person: 

Evan Morrison (denim expert and collector).

Read also the previous episodes of Meet the Person;

Meet the Person #1: Amy Leverton (Denim Dudes): here.

Meet the Person #2: Jacques Grosz (Kiliwatch store Paris): here.

Meet the Person #3: Guido Biondi (Roy Roger’s): here.

Meet the Person #4: Gerold Brenner (Designer, Trendforecaster): here.

Meet the Person #5: Leon Blok (Designer, tailor maker): here.

Meet the Person #6: Guido Kerssens (AMFI Amsterdam): here.

Meet the Person #7: James Veenhoff (Denim City, Jean School, Fronteer): here

Meet the Person #8: Moritz Fuchs (New Heritage Festival): here

Meet the Person #9: Christine Rucci (Godmother NYC): here

Meet the Person #10: Sean Gormley (Creative Director Wrangler E.M.E.A.): here.

Meet the Person #11: Piero Turk (Denim Designer): here.

Meet the Person #12: Peter Kats (Vice President Lee Jeans E.M.E.A.): here.

Meet the Person #13: Han Ates (founder of Blackhorse Lane Ateliers): here.

Meet the Person #14: Ben Viapiana (Bespoke Denim Tailor): here.

Meet the Person #15: Tony Tonnaer (founder Kings of Indigo): here.

Meet the Person #16: Maggy Tuijp (Denim Development at DENHAM the Jeanmaker): here.

Written by Wouter
I'm the founder of Long John. Next to running this daily magazine I'm working as a freelance marketing specialist for brands and retail. Specialized in denim.