While having a long career in advertising and marketing, Lindsay Nicholas traveled extensively and craved luxurious clothing that would take her between coasts and hemispheres, and travel well… all the while offering effortlessly cool style. She knew she wasn’t alone in needing some amazing modern basics that live outside of the seasons to suit my global lifestyle. This spirit, combined with an obsession for fashion, inspired her to begin Lindsay Nicholas New York in 2015.
Lindsay’s designs truly defy age and represent an attitude and confidence that can be seen in women of all ages. Her pieces are intelligent and elegant, like her clientele.
Lindsay holds certificate degrees from Parsons School of Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology. She truly understands luxury, having been the Executive Director of Retail Marketing for The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, one of the top luxury malls in the world, and Head of Global Marketing for Paspaley Pearls in Australia. She’s also a former board member of the Association of Image Consultants International.
Sassy & Co magazine recently caught up with Lindsay to discuss her journey in the fashion industry and here’s what went down:
How did you get into the fashion industry?
I have drawn women in clothing since I was a young child, but after living through 9/11 in NYC, I realised it was time to re-evaluate where my life was headed. I had a successful career in advertising on Madison Avenue but knew that being a fashion designer was my true calling. I studied at Parsons School of Design and then the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in the evenings and received certificate degrees over the course of several years. I then walked into my boss’s office and told him I was quitting to become a fashion designer, and he basically told me to go back to my desk – essentially, I did for another decade. As I rounded 50, I knew it was time to make a move. Initially, I did it as a side hustle, getting up at 4 am to work with my (what was then) NYC-based team while I was living in Singapore. In 2017 I had the courage to make it my full-time gig. In 2019 I moved the business to Australia.
What do you like most about being a designer?
I truly love the pieces I design, and like many designers, I design for myself. I had access to the best brands in my prior career and wore many European fashion houses. My wardrobe consists of mainly my pieces (and a little Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Celine), and I love wearing Lindsay Nicholas New York. My clothes are flattering, comfortable (without looking too comfortable), and infused with boldness and discreet sexiness. I have the best wardrobe I have ever had, and I get excited for what’s next, though I always pair new with one of my existing pieces. I believe a wardrobe should last season after season. I think through every detail, from the French seams to how a piece enhances a woman’s body. I am fully into every aspect.
Downside to being a fashion designer?
A friend of mine once described it as the Olympics of small details, and it is that! I am very lucky that I came in with the marketing chops right out of the gates, but there was still much more to learn, especially in the beginning. I made sure my small team was full of subject area experts. There are just so many aspects to consider, from sourcing fabrics to finding the right factory, the most appropriate channels to sell on, right down to the best accounting software and thread colours. As a designer and business owner, you really have to juggle a lot of plates at once.
What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?
While I have had some “pinch me” moments showing at New York Fashion Week and being accepted into the Australian Fashion Council’s Curated program, opening my new boutique in Melbourne has been a dream come true. I love retail, and I love being with my clients. The feedback I get is invaluable, and seeing a woman walk out of the fitting room glowing because she is feeling so amazing in one of my creations makes me joyful. And when she asks if she can wear it out of the store because she doesn’t want to take it off…well, that’s just the best.
Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?
Well, indeed, my clients are all so interesting. They have lived such amazing lives, and all got to where they are by not following the safe path. They take risks and put themselves out there. Just a fantastic group of ladies, though that said, recently, we’ve also been selling to men who are exploring their feminine wardrobe. It’s great for me to see how my pieces translate, and it’s very exciting for me. In terms of people I have met outside of my clients who have blown me away, I was fortunate enough to spend a little time with Michael Kors and Diane Von Furstenberg in my prior career, and I think they are the most talented and supremely lovely people I have met. So down to earth and warm.
What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.
You need to listen (and as I always like to say, “listen with your ears and not your mouth”), but you also can’t listen to all of the advice you get. Listen, take it in, but you need to apply your own filter at the end of the day. You’ll wind up with a very vanilla product if you try to please everyone. I listen and think, “that resonates with me… that’s good advice,” or “that’s interesting, but not something I am going to take on board.” We could probably make more money if we took some shortcuts, but I’d rather have fewer clients, but clients who appreciate the detail and quality we provide. We’re not for everybody, but we are for that special someone.
Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?
Absolutely! My sister works for me, so let’s start there. And now, her daughter is even helping out in the business. My mother, who died quite suddenly this year, was my biggest fan. She loved my pieces, and she was that bold, intelligent, and creative woman I designed for. She wore my pieces into her 80’s and looked chic as chic. Just in my family, I dress 17 to 83 year-olds. And my husband is truly my rock. He is integral to the business and knows everyone throughout my supply chain. When I was designing our leopard print pieces (which are our best sellers), I did a huge study on good leopard vs. bad leopard (because certainly there are both…and I do think ours is the best), and my husband was so involved that now he critiques every piece of leopard he sees on the street on in a store window. He’s an absolute doll.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
I would have approached an industry mentor sooner. I learned a lot by trial and error, and there are amazing people out there who are so generous with their time and expertise. Just because I don’t know how to do something doesn’t mean that there isn’t someone who does! I wound up getting paired with Christine Metcalfe, who co-founded The Ark Clothing Company through the Australian Fashion Council, and she has been a great mentor to me. There are also great resources like Fashion Equipped, which could have saved me some headaches and money if I knew they existed initially.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
While not necessarily advice, the quote I had in my High School yearbook still rings true for me today: Enjoy your own life without comparing it with that of another. – Marquis de Condorcet
What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.
I love to work and create, so I am looking forward to the journey in our new boutique, the new pieces we’ll create, and the new relationships we’ll make. And while we haven’t been able to travel for a couple of years, really looking forward to spending a couple of months a year in New York City and with my family in Boston. It’s good for me creatively and spiritually.