Tori Nichel is a Fashion Institute of Technology alum who has worked for Dana Buchman, Kenneth Cole, and Tibi and has been making a name for herself with her designs ever since. Tori Nichel took time out to answer questions for the Style Incorporated readers. Enjoy!
Who is Tori Nichel?
Tori Nichel: Tori Nichel is the most down to earth, driven and ambitious woman who knows what she wants and is a true go-getter. Upbeat and happy, always smiling. I adore my family, worship the quicksand they walk on and humbled everyday by some life experience. Many customers and clients of mine say they instantly feel a connection to me because they find me so approachable, as if I was their cousin, niece or the everyday girl next door.
When did you know that you wanted to become a fashion designer?
Tori Nichel: I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer at a very young age, I was 7 years old.
What is the very first thing you designed professionally/personally?
Tori Nichel: The first thing I designed professionally was a suit at Kenneth Cole. I want to say it was black pinstripe, tropical wool from Italy. The evening gown I designed at my FIT fashion show is the first thing I designed personally that counted and meant the most.
You have worked for some of fashion’s elite company’s, Kenneth Cole, Tibi, and Dana Buchman. What made you want to venture out and start your own company?
Tori Nichel: When I was 7 years old and decided I wanted to be a fashion designer I made it clear that the ultimate goal was to run my own fashion business one day so by the age of 10, I was calling myself an entrepreneur. My professors at FIT preached the importance of getting industry experience and working for other design firms before branching out on your own. I wanted to make certain I understood all aspects of the design process before I launched which meant understanding costing, manufacturing, sales, balance sheets and cash flow statements. Those are things you are not going to learn in design school, you need on the job experience.
How would you define your personal style?
Tori Nichel: My personal style is tailored-eclectic, with bold, bright colors and a hint of 70’s.
Do you try to keep up with trends or create your own?
Tori Nichel: I create my own style, I get attached to key pieces and those pieces over the years have defined my signature looks.
What are some of the must-haves for the fall/winter?
Tori Nichel: Some must haves for fall//winter are bright/bold colored accessories whether it be gloves and/or a scarf, a handbag or playful pumps. Lace up ankle booties to fit your fancy, colored denim, a fur vest to wear as a layering piece that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion, flowy printed blouses and a Tori Nichel dress!
Who or what inspires you?
Tori Nichel: I am inspired by many things, people and experiences. I love the stories of people making something out of nothing. Steve Jobs and Howard Schultz come to mind. Iman and Oprah inspire me. I love the empires these women have built and how committed they are to their platforms. When designing collections my global travels along with phenomenal women who have left their mark in history inspire most of my collections. Once I have identified the concept, I am re-inspired when I select fabrics.
Describe the Tori Nichel customer?
Tori Nichel: The Tori Nichel customer is effortlessly chic. She’s confident and sophisticated and wants clothing that accentuates her innate sophistication and complement her body. She’s flirty with an edge.
Tell us about your design process. Do you prefer sketching designs or actually constructing them?
Tori Nichel: For me the design process has always started with fabrics. I am so inspired by fabrics, whether it be the texture, color, drape and/or hand. Once I select the fabrics I design (sketch) the collection based on my theme/concept I have created. From there I will do the technical specs and work with my sample hand on the drape and/or pattern of the garment.
What are your favorite colors, patterns, and fabrics to work with and why?
Tori Nichel: I love yellow. It has become my signature color personally! When designing a collection my favorite colors change by the season, mood and feeling. This season I am loving deep true reds, kelly greens, teals, gold and black. I am generally not a huge fan of black, but I’m feeling for black again, especially paired with metallics or a great graphic print.
What would you say is your trademark?
Tori Nichel: My jumpsuits put me on the map and then my customers fell in love with my flirty dresses. I had jumpsuits long before they were a trend. The boutiques would say, “Tori Nichel, we just don’t know how we will hang these jumpsuits in the stores, they are just so long” …Looks like they figured it out, lol!
What’s you best seller(s) now?
Tori Nichel: Flirty dresses reign supreme.
What do you believe makes a quality article of clothing?
Tori Nichel:Construction, workmanship of the garment and fine fabrics with a good handfeel and drape. Also a keen sense to the details and finishing the garment properly. You’ve gotta deliver the total package.
What is the most difficult aspect of running your own fashion label?
Tori Nichel: The most difficult aspect of running my own fashion label is cash flow.
Tell us about future plans for yourself and your label Tori Nichel.
Tori Nichel: Tori Nichel will have a more visible presence in 2012. I am writing a cartoon that will be launched next year, very exciting… and a not so typical blog…
What are some important life lessons that you have learned along your journey?
Tori Nichel: Some important life lessons are always work by referrals in business, integrity goes a long way, friends don’t always make the best business collaborators and there’s nothing to fear but fear itself and trust your instincts. Go with your gut.
What advice do you have for aspiring fashion designers?
Tori Nichel: My advice for aspiring fashion designers is to work for someone else first. Make some mistakes on someone else’s dime because no one is perfect, we are all human, mistakes will be made. Be a sponge, absorb, observe and ask questions. Nurture your talent and stay true to your passion. And as one my favorite business innovators once said, “Stay Hungry.”
Where can readers find out more about you and your work?
Tori Nichel: Readers can find out more about Tori Nichel at www.torinichel.com and http://stores.ebay.com/Tori-Nichel.
Tori Nichel’s favorite
Movies: Pretty Woman, I’m a sucker for a fairy-tale love story, don’t judge me. And The Proposal, Ryan Reynolds, hilarious!
Animals: Dogs, Golden Retrievers. Always wanted one named Leroy, lol! I’m visually obsessed with birds, hence my trademarked logos.
Pastime or hobby: Creative writing and belly dancing
TV shows: Modern Family now, and back in the day Martin and the Golden Girls. Could you imagine Martin Lawrence, Estelle Getty and Sofia Vegara having cocktails together, lol!
Vacation spots: The Amalfi Coast in Italy and the Grand Cayman Islands