The Future of Denim: Nicholas Collier Receives the SUEDEsays™ Endowed Critic Award


Kent, Ohio

Since graduating from the prestigious fashion design program at Kent State University, SUEDE, the 3rd person talking, colorful mohawked designer extraordinaire from Project Runway Season 5, has had a soft spot in his heart for the future of fashion, especially the future of denim design. As soon as he was able, in 2001, he established the SUEDEsays™ Endowed Critic Award that grants a $1,000 cash award to a graduating senior Kent State University design student who presented an exemplary fashion collection at their senior thesis show.

“I remember what it was like graduating college and having to find my way on my own, in my case moving to New York City on a starting wage,” recalls SUEDE. “I wanted to give a graduating senior a cash jump start to help them on their way.”


As soon as SUEDE viewed the senior thesis collections of those graduating in the class of 2023, he identified the one standout collection. “It was obvious,” says SUEDE. Nicholas Collier’s collection of reworked, upcycled, hand sewn denim truly caught SUEDE’s discerning eye within seconds. SUEDE spent his entire career, before moving into the spotlight of Reality TV and more recently breaking records in the competitive real estate market, in the world of denim design. In fact, SUEDE was the Creative Director for some of the most celebrated denim collections in the world. He knows denim and Nicholas Collier’s collection truly impressed him.

Nicholas Collier looks at a piece of denim and doesn’t see a pair of jeans, he sees a universe of possibilities. His senior thesis project he showed on the runway was one of the freshest takes on denim that SUEDE had seen in quite some time. As a starting point, Collier chose iconic Japanese selvage denim. From there, he cut, burned, abrased, embroidered, distressed, painted, bleached… you name it! In his own words, Collier says, “I did everything I could to trash the garments.”


The result, entitled “American Requiem”, was nothing short of “denim couture”. Each piece was not only inventive in silhouette, but wholly unique in terms of finish, hand feel, color, and detail. Equal parts upcycle and new, machined and hand-hewn, workwear and couture, Nicholas Collier achieved a capsule that truly left all in the audience in awe.

Daniel Quintanilla

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