In Men’s Fashion, People Are Some Of The Biggest Obstacles

One of the biggest obstacles in building a men’s fashion brand is finding a customer base.  When you look at reports of menswear, you constantly see headlines about how fast the industry is growing.  It’s bringing in a ton of money. A lot of people would think the rising popularity of menswear would make it easier to break through. But in this case, it’s quite the opposite. It makes it harder to be seen.

Nikke Horrigan started out as a youth-oriented brand. The label’s roots were in streetwear. I began selling snapback hats that were quite popular. But they were ultimately part of a passing trend. Nikke Horrigan has evolved from a trend-focused young brand to a more cultured label.

"I’ve always had a different sense of style than most guys my age, and that style is reflected in the current direction of the brand.

My current direction is more of a downtown chic label which is focused around the upper street culture. Most local Australian guys are very into mainstream surf and skate culture. But my choice to pursue a more elevated aesthetic puts me in a different position. If I set out to target Europe or America, I’d surely have a larger fan base. But my focus on the Australian market has proven difficult. 

Ego plays a huge role in the way men dress.  Even with guys that I know, they’ve taken time to praise what I’ve created. But don't engage in the label as passionate as they talk about it to my face. Now there's the other type who smile to your face and laugh behind your back. There the motherfuckers who sit in their little cool groups, who haven't got the courage to follow their dreams so the bag out on everyone else who does. To those people, you my friend can get FUCKED. Then you got the other friends who are too worried what others will think if they support-remember it's all about be cool and we wouldn't want anyone to know that your supporting a friend because that's a lame thing to do.

"I’ve even had one friend tell me he sometimes doesn't want to like Nikke Horrigan’s posts because they were too on point."

Rather than like it because it's great content? Men are reluctant to help other guys stand out. Women support women men do not do the same. Fashion for men has become a secret society of sorts. It's funny how it all works though. The male customer is protective of their style secrets and resistant to new influence.

"People what to express themselves as individuals but they buy from all the big known brands, which as a consequence makes them all the same"

On top of men’s individualistic approach to style, fashion is competing for space among more popular interests like Tit's and Ass slapped all over Instagram. Dead set I can't get over how much tit's and ass is on Instagram, have you noticed that? No offense to innocent ladies but a simple selfie of a girl can get a thousand likes, but a story of building a fashion brand which involves actual skill like a vision, tenacity, persistence and a pair of big balls gets dismissed. And I just feel sorry for the young girls who think this is the only way to validate herself in this world. This is not a far cry but where the fuck are people’s heads at?

"The hardest part of building my business is getting people's attention."

I often feel like I’m swimming upstream, paddling as hard as I can, and people just don’t understand. It’s especially hard to swim upstream when you don't have a boat in my case my license haha. When I lost my license, I lost my freedom and my ability to drive the label but I didn't lose the will to keep fighting on.

Losing my license was a moment in my life that I will never forget. Having your license taking off you for a year had a brutal impact on my business operations. But it also had a positive impact because it forced me to learn so much about myself. In order to make it in the fashion business, you need to be seen and heard. Without a license, I couldn’t make it to photo shoots, networking and markets. All aspects are crucial in building a following. I’ve had to rely on friends for creative help as well as transportation. A friend of mine who’s involved in the arts has stepped in to assist with my photography needs. I’ve also had to rely on Instagram and brand ambassadors to spread the word about Nikke Horrigan. This hasn’t always worked. Many people are eager to receive my product for free but don’t even attempt to photograph it or share it on their social media.

"I was talking to my mentor at the time about this blog I've created, she told me"I don't get it, no one cares what you do you're not famous".

You need to stop thinking the label revolves around you. I had a sudden overwhelming feeling of anger. I thought to myself, she obviously doesn't understand where I'm coming from. I don't do this to seek fame I do this because it allows me to express myself, it makes me happy, and sure if I can make living off it why wouldn't I? Now, If I wanted to be famous, I'm pretty sure I'd find someone remotely famous and bang them right? then post it all over social media; Now I'm sure I'd get over a 1000 likes and possibly an interview on Ellen. After our meeting we went outside and grabbed a coffee, it was there where I was able to tell her my true story face to face just like I did on my previous blog post. Her reaction was priceless. In her own words she sent me an email following our private coffee chat

" You are the brand, the face of the brand ,and you are 100% right stay true to this." For me, this blog serves as an opportunity to document my experience and show my progression, it allows me to be express my feelings."

She was partly the reason behind my saying "Who the fuck is Nikke Horrigan?" which is not directed at my mentor, but it reminded me of the haters that want to rub dirt on my name. You know those ones that want to crush your dreams-make you feel like your stupid. I made these shirts as a reminder to myself that I can be whatever the fuck I want to be.

Though resistance from people within the industry and my potential customers can be frustrating, my personal life sometimes mimics this same struggle. When I was younger, I was a party boy and had a lot of friends. I got into fights and spent time hanging out with the wrong people.

"The people around me didn’t have much faith in my ability beyond just partying and drinking. Which is funny because I was the total opposite I knew I was smart and that it was only a matter of time until I out grew the walls that confined everyone else around me."

But if I didn’t hang out with these people, who would I hang out with?

When I lost my license, I had a lot of time to develop myself. I realized that the old version of me didn’t work. I had to think a lot smarter and use my brain in ways that I wasn’t. I started to separate myself from the crowd. I traveled by myself. I started reading more books. I became cultured. I cut ties with a lot of people. I bowed out on everyone. And now I’ve resurfaced with my own fashion business and a clear disposition. If I would’ve stayed with that group, perhaps more people would have known about my brand. But I wouldn’t have the mindset and motivation to lead the business.

"I didn’t have the support group I needed back then. I had to sacrifice the relationships I had to get ahead. Ultimately I got lost to find myself."

Building a men’s fashion brand is full of difficulty. In my other posts, I’ve spoken more about the technical struggles in creating a fashion business. But some of the biggest obstacles involve people. Whether it’s fighting for new consumers, proving my worth to potential mentors, or removing myself from a circle of negative influences, dealing with people can be just as challenging as designing and manufacturing. Luckily, I’ve learned a lot through my experiences, and I have the determination it takes to make it. I get my license back this month, and I’m already planning to visit numerous local markets to shop my product around. My message to everyone is don't sit on the fence and watch your friends, be a true friend and support their dreams.

"Fashion imitates life" - Nikke Horrigan

Nikke Horrigan