Nelson Market Profile: The vest practice
Nelson-based designer Nicola Bullock launches women’s tailored knitwear label The Vest Practice (TVP). Now available at Nelson Market online.
It’s no secret that Nelson is for known for sunshine wages, a relaxed lifestyle and dress code to match. But times and trends have moved on. Many professional ex-pat women have returned to New Zealand from overseas due to Covid19 and growing numbers of Nelson women are commuting to larger center’s for work. Until recently an ex-pat herself, Nicola Bullock believes the local retail market is underserved with smart, quality business attire and the time is right to introduce a smart-casual solution.
Enter the knit vest!
Since returning from the Middle East at Christmas, Bullock has been working on launching her vest-dressed business to support women of direction and purpose.
Nelson Market: Where did you get the idea to make knit vests?
TVP: The idea of making vests came a few years ago whilst working in Qatar (next to Dubai). With a searing 50+ degrees outside, we worked in freezing air-conditioned offices which made layering up an absolute necessity. I started experimenting with knit vests, suits and patterned shirts and instantly received comments from other women about their tailored and edgy appeal. After researching trends and consumer demand, I found many designer brands (Michael Kors to Gucci) were adding knit vests to their seasonal collections but overall there was a complete absence of a dedicated house of women’s vests catering to customers year-round.
Nelson Market: What are your plans for the immediate future?
TVP: The Vest Practice plans to serve a global ‘vest obsessed’ market starting with a strong capsule for SS2021. Vests are popular in NZ, but huge in Asia. It’s also the perfect time to promote ourselves in the UK and USA for a Northern Hemisphere winter.
We have a lot of work to do now in getting our name and offering out there.
Nelson Market: What is it about knit vests that captivates you?
TVP: I knew from wearing them as a teenager and later overseas, that vests are iconic pieces you can build a whole look around. We wanted to create a garment that draws from the tropes of smart girls, geeks and nerds; a garment with personality, an ineffable cool factor yet versatile enough to work with modern suiting, blazers or a classic a-line skirt. It had to be a garment for women of all ages. Vests have been around for many decades and are associated with sports, universities and menswear.
They feel great to wear, exude attitude and you can do so much with them creatively and shape wise. We are just starting. We have so many ideas.
The R. Hadley cricket inspired Cotton Cashmere Vest.
Menswear is referenced in our collections
Nelson Market: Where does your design inspiration come from?
I love British style and after completing a Boconni University diploma in Fashion, visited Savile Row in London and fell in love with their tailored menswear.
Our collection draws from a mix of Kiwi lifestyle and classic British-inspired patterns; herringbone, tartan, stripes and hound’s-tooth with an edgy borrowed-from-the-boys vibe. Menswear patterning is referenced in our collections. As a teenager I was mesmerized by the wardrobe of Diane Keaton in Woody Allen’s movie ‘Annie Hall’, and recently greatly admired Blake Lively’s wardrobe in ‘A Simple Favour’. The truth is that boyfriend styling doesn’t disguise femininity—quite the opposite – it ignites it!“
It can empower women of all ages with a polished look that says we’re here to stylishly kick a**% and get the job done! Classic British patterns have lasted through time and continue to look smart and edgy.”
Nelson Market: Where are your vests made and from which yarns?
TVP: Luxury yarns are a must for discerning customers, so vests are spun from premium wools and possum/merino yarns. For summer there are vests in a blend of cotton/cashmere with a silky in-hand feel. All garments are biodegradable and ethically made in New Zealand.
Nelson Market: Given the state of international markets what made you launch now?
TVP: I know times are challenging. It’s a really tough time to launch a business but we’re focused on our mission to support women of all ages to show up as themselves and feel comfortable in a quality garment that celebrates their character and authenticity.
Regardless of age, our vest dressed women want, and now more than ever need to look smart and feel on-mission and on-message. When you have confidence in your wardrobe you exude a tell-tale air of confidence.
The Vest Practice is a mission-driven business founded by women for women.
The collection is available:
Online: At Nelson Market
Email: Personal styling sessions can be arranged by appointment. [email protected]
Nelson Market: What does the name The Vest Practice embody?
The Vest Practice name draws from my corporate communications background and business ethos, ‘to always apply the best practice and deliver the best that you can’. “No short cuts, quality execution all the way without taking yourself too seriously”, she says!
“We nod at preppy but it’s a subversive take on Ivy League. Remember the better you dress the more you can misbehave,” Bullock says with a wink.
Remember the better you dress the more you can misbehave