VFW kicks off next Tuesday March 19 and today, we continue our exclusive interviews with two of the most exciting emerging designers showcasing next week.

    Today we chat with Nova Chiu and Jacob Kimmie

    Collection: Nova Chiu
    Designers: Nova Chiu and Jeff Archer
    Based: London, UK

    Nova Chiu and Jeff Archer met as interns at Anna Sui in New York City. One year later in 2011, Nova’s graduate collection with the London College of Fashion won Collection of the Year. Nova’s project received considerable press coverage, and it was then that the duo decided to bridge their artistic talents together and launch a womenswear collection under Nova’s name.  

    At London Fashion Week this year, their collection was full of neons, Chinese brocade and dyed rabbit fur. An eclectic-sounding label, but interestingly, neither Jeff or Nova describe their personal style “out there.” The Nova Chiu collection has been a hit with urban musicians and rappers and according to Jeff, “our clothing gets a lot of attention from musicians. Musicians want to be noticed and like to stand out.“

    Why did you start off with womenswear and not menswear?
    J: I wanted to design jeans and t-shirts for men, but when I attended school at Helen Lefeaux, School of Fashion Design, I became very interested in designing womenswear. I found I could be a lot more creative and women are more excited about wearing and buying clothing rather than men.

    Who do you vision wearing your designs?
    J: Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Florence Welch, Lady Gaga, Ke$ha and M.I.A.

    What are your big plans for 2013?
    J: We have entered a few competitions in Asia and hope to be travelling there in the future. We are currently working with a German shoe brand/retailer known as Deichmann for their 100th anniversary. As well, we are preparing for London Fashion Week in September 2013.

    If you could give one piece of advice to your 14 year-old self, what would it be?
    J: Work hard, persevere, stay motivated, be ambitious and most of all - stay true to yourself, and amazing things will happen.

    Follow Nova Chiu online and on Facebook and Twitter.

    Collection: Jacob Kimmie
    Designer: Jacob Kimmie
    Based: London, UK

    Jacob Kimmie’s basic pieces are made from contrasting textures and fabrics, which look sophisticated and avant-garde, yet convey a minimalistic tone. Not surprising for a boy who constructed his first dress at age 11 from a plastic yellow meat-packer’s suit.

    Born and raised in the middle of apartheid in Johannesburg, South Africa, Kimmie is completely self-taught. This may have created challenges but his resilience energizes those around him. “I wasn’t lucky enough to go to an academic establishment,” says Kimmie, “I cut my teeth fitting clothes to real people of all shapes and sizes with couture-like service. It’s how I made my living. From the way it’s advocated to reach success, I used to feel embarrassed I didn’t go to university. But my understanding is  - if you can make a dress, you can eat.”

    You grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa during apartheid and democracy. How has this influenced you?
    My parents were teenagers during the worst years in South Africa’s history.  I remember being told why I couldn’t use certain train carriages or go to certain cinemas or swim at beaches because we were the wrong color!

    You don’t realise the impact of that until you move to the other side of the world when you realise how totally wretched apartheid was. My work is often about  searching for a certain truth, a beauty that we can all aspire to; an antidote maybe, driven by my anger for injustice.

    In 1995, you were nominated by the Clothing Federation of South Africa as the official representative to an international design conference in Turkey, and were the 1st runner-up in a designer award show the next year. How did this influence and drive you to the next phase of your career?
    It inspired me to think about fashion as a business. I wanted it to be the way I made my living and to be recognised for. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with opening a little shop in the middle of nowhere selling prom dresses, but it wasn’t where I set my sights. Contemporary fashion is hard work and an expensive business to be in, but it’s fun and rewarding.

    How is living and designing in the UK now?
    Moving to the UK was a dream come true. It meant I was closer to where all the action is. There’s an old saying that goes “if you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life.” I wouldn’t say that I draw inspiration from, as so much energy from, living here. As a lecturer, my students inspire me to no end.

    If you could give one piece of advice to your 14 year-old self, what would it be?
    Wearing argyle socks inside out wasn’t such a good idea!

    Follow Jacob Kimmie online and on Facebook and Twitter.

    Liu Lu, Goldie London, Jacob Kimmie and Nova Chiu are just some of the incredible designers featured at VFW this year and we can’t wait to watch their runway shows.  A portion of VFW’s proceeds will also be contributed to Beauty Night, a non-profit organization which helps women and youth living in poverty through wellness, life skills development and makeovers.  

    Goldie London is showing on Friday March 23 and Liu Lu, Nova Chiu and Jacob Kimmie are presenting on Saturday March 24.  Check out www.vanfashionweek.com for a complete show schedule and be sure to check the live feed from VFW online on Facebook and Twitter.

    To shop urban and edgy designs like Nova Chiu and Jacob Kimmie, join thousands of other trendsetters on www.wantering.com!

    More Articles