Musical brand

Nigel Holt talks about fashion brand Friendship CLB

CLB friendship, as a brand and collective, is rooted in a sense of inclusivity and giving back to the community to inspire others to create whatever their heart or imagination desires. Founded by Chief Designer Nigel Holtwith a small group of close-knit and hard-working collaborators, CLB friendship is a multifaceted high fashion brand with roots in the streetwear community that creates exceptionally designed clothing, leather goods and footwear. The CLB also organizes warm and inviting events, parties and facilities where everyone is welcome.

For Holt, who first rose to prominence with his musical projects Holt Hollywood and now HXLT, the idea of ​​friendship is his driving force and his ideology behind everything he creates. Fed up with the lack of positive clothing brands, exclusivity, gatekeepers and unnecessary entry barriers for fashion and social events, Holt and her team want to show the world that you too can have your own successful business and shape the culture if you put your mind to it. After all, if people from all walks of life can come together, it can form a community and advance a positive society.

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Before you started spreading stuff to the general public, I understand that this business started with you creating things and just giving them to your friends. Was this the initial impetus to make Friendship CLB a brand?

To some extent, yes. The reason we started Friendship CLB was because I was looking at the culture, streetwear and high fashion industries and seeing a lot of counterfeit, resistant or exclusive clothing. It was either something you could never get because it was too expensive or too rare and also stuff with brass knuckles and knives all over the clothes, and as usual a lot of those wearing those clothes distorted him because they weren’t difficult.

I didn’t like that there wasn’t positivity around clothes, and when we started Friendship CLB it was about my belief in connecting everyone and working together. The streetwear world came together because we were running through cities and everyone was working with each other. We knew if we were all together it could be a community and not a single entity.

Seems like Friendship CLB is inclusive and the opposite of “You can’t sit with us”. In many ways, you are breaking down the walls of fashion and society.

Exactly, our whole premise is inclusion. Growing up, the stigma of bullshit was that cool kids wouldn’t let anyone into the cool kid zone, and I always thought that was stupid as fuck. If you’re tough, the first thing you want to do is help people become tougher. I like to popularize the inclusion of normal people and empower them to be as great as possible. Once these people gain the confidence, they can do the most amazing things. If someone inspires you, then that’s also amazing.

With Friendship CLB, instead of being in control, I want to give it to everyone and see what they do with it and turn it into a rainbow of different versions. When we launched Friendship CLB, we wanted to make it a party that everyone could attend. Retaining children’s knowledge based on their status is a major problem in our culture. It’s not about money — it’s about information, and if someone knows they can start a business, they will. I want to give everything away for free and give the information to the children.

Obviously, you’re also well known for creating your own music, but who would you say are your three favorite musical artists right now?

I’m big on [Baltimore-based hardcore group] Turnstile, of cours. They just kill the game. I’m so proud of them, and obviously we’re friends, but I’m a real fan. Glock key also goes crazy. He’s raw as hell, and I haven’t heard a single song from him that wasn’t hot as shit. Another is Amyl and the sniffers, an Australian punk band that’s just screwed up. I can’t stop listening to them. their singer [Amy Taylor] has one of the most dynamic voices.

As a successful business owner who is also a person of color, I imagine your heritage plays a central role in everything you do, and there are so many other amazing black-owned or black-owned brands. POC who create these incredible communities in fashion and culture. What does all of this mean to you?

We are finally getting to the point where this is becoming the norm. That’s what’s great about hip-hop and streetwear and fashion, it’s something that we’ve built. High fashion is high fashion, and initially it was set in stone as a white thing, but streetwear since its inception has always been inclusive. All my friends and their marks, like 10. Deep and centswere created by [people of color]and there was never a question about it, and that’s what I love about it.

Being a black-owned business and being able to maneuver in this space without the restraints of people wondering or assuming if I’m legitimized because of my color is the best feeling in the world. Virgil Abloh [influential fashion designer and artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection, who tragically passed away in 2021 after a battle with cancer] changed everything for all of us. It wasn’t that he was black and at Louis Vuitton – it was the fact that he was the best motherfucker ever at Louis Vuitton, and he just happened to be black. He was really great, and now I can reach out to Prada and have an audience, where I didn’t have that before Virgil. I can now go to these fashion houses like Fendi and at least have a meeting because of what he did.

Is there anyone on the Friendship CLB team you want to highlight for what they bring to the table?

Yes, that’s exactly what I want to do. There are five key people in the brand. There is me, who is the head and creative designer, but our creative director who designs all the installations, the events, the concepts behind the photoshoots and the visual direction which is not sartorial is Kolby Wood. It contributes to creating the universe behind each collection. We have two creators Alex Swain and Alexandria Wills, who are interested in the construction and layers of clothing. They create every product we make, from leather bags to shoes and apparel to every stitch and pattern. Without them, I have practically nothing. We also have Chelsea Lombardo, who’s been on the team longer than anyone, and she’s our head of logistics and design. She’s the one executing all the visions Kolby and I have.

Anyone else you want to shout?

Shout out to Nick Diamond, Hebrew Brantley, Dilone and people who have supported the brand since its inception.

This story appeared in issue 403 with cover star Dominic Fike, available here.