Adish x Small Talk Studio for Spring Summer ‘22
The species that could be found in these parks and reserves are at the core of our Spring-Summer ‘22 Collection ‘FACING THE FORESTS’ collaborative capsule collection with Nicholas Williams and Small Talk Studios. We’ve sat down for a quick conversation with Nicholas to dive a little deeper into our capsule collection....
Inspired by A.B. Yehoshua’s book of the same name, ADISH’s Spring Summer 2022 collection, Facing the Forests, seeks to excavate the history buried not long ago. Atop Israel national parks, where flora and fauna now root and thrive, once stood nearly a hundred of Palestinian villages, that were depopulated or destroyed by Israeli forces in the 1948 Nakba (The total of Palestinian villages demolished in the Nakba is estimated to be nearing 700). Across these forests, parks and reserves, visitors witness physical ruins scattered throughout; Israeli officials razed the other remnants to the ground.
These parks encompass vast swaths of land, stretching from the sea to the desert to the mountains, home to thousands of indigenous plants, animals and insects. The Nubian Ibex, a horned desert-dwelling goat, is listed as a vulnerable species, The Black-Striped Hairtail is a handsome butterfly whose larvae feed on a variety of Acacia, The Apple of Sodom, a flowering plant of the Apocynaceae family, is believed to be woven into biblical history. The species mentioned above are at the core of our Spring-Summer ‘22 Collection ‘FACING THE FORESTS’ collaborative capsule collection with Nicholas Williams and Small Talk Studios.
We’ve sat down for a quick conversation with Nicholas to dive a little deeper into our collaborative capsule collection.
Hey Nicholas hope you’re doing well. First things first, tell us a bit about yourself, how old are you and where are you from?
So I'm originally from Nashville, TN, but I lived in California for about 10 years before moving to NYC in 2019. I just turned 31 in February :)
You came a long way from Nashville to New York! And also Happy belated birthday. Can you tell us how did you first start making art and how did Small Talk Studios Came To be.
Well I started making art in high school, and I studied printmaking in college. I've always loved the process of being able to work intuitively, building up layers of imagery and working across different media to create something unexpectedly cohesive. Small Talk came out of learning hand embroidery from my grandma about 5 years ago. I applied my printmaking practice to the much slower, gradual process of hand-embroidery and started making garments with all-over embroidery for friends and family. At some point I realized that I was already sketching out designs for embroidery on the garments and that maybe I could explore the practice in a deeper way by just drawing directly on the clothes. I think that when I started doing that, it was still a pretty rare thing to see and it was natural for people to ask questions. So the pieces were starting conversations and eventually they got in front of the right eyes and there was enough traction for me to quit my job and start making clothes full time. And now Small Talk has grown to the point where I have the pleasure of working with my friend Phil Ayers who is a very talented illustrator and artist. He and I do all of the drawing and a lot of the creative direction and image sourcing for each piece together. Working together has really allowed us to scale this inherently slow and labor-intensive process to a level where we are able to grow and take on much bigger projects.
Its amazing to hear how you’ve evolved each step of the way both conceptually and technically and how that helped you materialize Small Talk studios as it is today. Was art and fashion always your plan A? if not what would you do?
Art was definitely plan A for a while because it was the only thing I felt like I was actually good at, but it took so many years of unstructured experimentation to finally land on something that felt right. I think making clothes really felt right because it was something that naturally invited all kinds of people in and it was a more collaborative and straightforward process. Also without having a formal background in fashion, it was fun to apply my own outsider sensibility to something I still had so much to learn about, and I have taught myself so much in the last 5 years. This practice has also been such a great vehicle for meeting people whose work I admire (like you guys!) and learning a lot from those people. Before I was making clothes full-time, I was working for a community land trust, a sort of collective-ownership model of housing, in San Francisco, and then I was teaching art classes to older adults living in supportive housing here in NY. So I'd probably be doing something like that and making what I want to make on the side.
Every garment that comes out of Small Talk Studios feels very personal in its core. Can you please take us through the process of creating these unique garments?
For sure! So most of the time, someone will order a piece from us, and we ask them to send us a stream of consciousness list of things they're into. It can really be anything- we've gotten pretty good at taking whatever people send to us and finding cool imagery that is related to what they're into. We know pretty well at this point what types of things make for interesting drawings. I used to be afraid to let people give us so much input for what kinds of things they want on their garments, but it has turned out to be a great jumping off point to start sourcing imagery and I have learned about a lot of cool things I might not have otherwise come across through working this way. Anyway, once we have a set of images to work from, we usually start with a couple big images and then just start placing more drawings intuitively until the whole thing feels complete. Our compositions have definitely gotten denser and more complex and of course the prices will have to go up to account for that, but we really just want to be making the best possible version of each garment we can.
You’ve collaborated with us on our Spring/Summer ’22 Collection - “Facing The Forests”. Is it your first official collaboration with a fashion brand? How does this process differ from working with personal clients?
Yeah I think this is definitely our first official collaboration with a fashion brand at this scale, and it really feels like a perfect match in a lot of ways. I think we share a lot in terms of our ethos and practice, and it has made it really easy to work together. It feels like there is a lot of mutual trust built into the collaboration, and I appreciate that. It's different from working with personal clients in that it is a lot more focused, meaning that you guys come to the table with a fully developed story and concept and we just try to figure out how we can support that concept. I've mentioned this before, I really appreciate how clear and uncompromising the vision and politics of Adish are and I think that really comes through in the seasonal concepts. They are not contrived or trying too hard to represent an idea of the moment- they're really genuine and ambitious and they have the conceptual weight of good art, so that both sets a high bar for our contribution and makes for an easy translation for a label like ours that is grounded in an art practice.
Yeah I do agree that our mutual trust in each other made us feel very comfortable working on this project together and I think it really shows. As part of our collaboration you’ve got a chance to work with Stepney Workers Club and us on a shoe for the first time. Tell us a little bit about that - was the process any different from painting on clothes?
I've admired SWC for a couple of years, ever since I saw the shoe they made with Brain Dead. I love the campaigns they shoot and the whole aesthetic of the brand and their shoes, so it's also an honor to be working with them. The process was different in that with pants or a jacket you have so much uninterrupted space to fill that you can really just dive in and trust that it will all come together, but with a pair of classic slip on canvas shoes there are space constraints and also a whole history of DIY embellishment to consider with this particular style of shoe. We didn't want to lean too heavily into that history, and we wanted it to fit well with the other pieces in the collection, so we tried to do something that is both detailed and bold but also fairly restrained in other ways. It's been fun to make a sample and then try to replicate it while also leaving room for each one to be a little bit unique. It's kind of like a game of telephone where each one is based off of the last one we made and there are subtle changes that get made from the first shoe all the way to the twentieth.
And to end on a sweet note - you got anything planned out for the near future you wanna share with us?
We've got some ready-to-wear pieces in development for later this year, and we've got some really exciting big collaborations in the works-- more on that later!
Adish and Small Talk Studios collaborative capsule collection clothes are now available on our web shop and in selected stores and Stepney Workers Club Lister Shoes Up-Cycled by Small Talk Studio and Adish are Available now in store exclusively at Dover Street Market New York and Dover Street Market Los Angeles