I met Nelson Abulencia during a Swedish course last year, where we both aimed to prepare for our internships in Stockholm. Unfortunately, I forgot most of my Swedish soon after, but more importantly, I very well remembered the pictures of Nelsons work.
Meanwhile, Nelson has become a menswear designer for Tom Tailor Denim, and I talked to him about how he got there, about inspiration and his plans for the future.
Nelson started studying special education in Cologne, but dropped out and attended a tailoring school in Manila for three months. He then studied fashion design at the JAK in Hamburg.
In an internationally announced competition by Replay, Nelson got invited to Italy as a finalist. In a design contest announced by Evisu, he made it among the 20 best participants. In late 2008, his first illustrations exhibition took place at Herr Max in Hamburg.
As a student, Nelson worked for American Apparel,
Filippa K and Acne Jeans. After graduating, he was a design intern for Acne in Stockholm for two months, before deciding to go to Hamburg, where he now works as a menswear designer for Tom Tailor Denim.
You studied at JAK in Hamburg – how did you like it?
The education at JAK was good. I especially enjoyed the first semesters, when free thinking and designing was combined with good subject matters. Also, in my opinion, the friendly atmosphere among students and tutors added a lot of value to the education.
But we should not forget that the skills you need in life after school are mostly built up through the experience you gather alongside school. Because only if you deal with yourself and the circle you feel attached to or would like to feel attached to, you will find your place and your heart.
When and how did you start designing fashion?
Me and a friend found some sailing boat canvas in the roadside during a vacation in Spain. We took it home and sew some bags out of it. At that time, I was in my semester break of my special education studies. A few weeks before, I had built a screen printing frame for paper prints in an arts workshop. For me, it was absolutely obvious that I would mount a shirt on that frame. And in no time, the first shirt was printed.
What followed was the creation of a little self-made screen printing studio and the launch of my own label. My best friend and me, we were so proud when we coincidentally saw a magazine page with one of our shirts. And in that same year, we had our first website, our first fashion show and a collection out in the stores.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
I love the status of being inexperienced. Every day, I could be enthused by things that I would do for the first time in my life. Even the tiniest and seemingly unimportant experience can be a source of inspiration to me.
Going astray is a virtue to me. Once I wondered, what the terminal stop of a subway in Cologne might look like. So I just stayed on the train to go all the way to northern Cologne, where I looked at the end of the tracks and chuckled over the situation. Humour, spontaneity and the approach of not taking yourself too seriously caused me to stroll around that area for another half hour.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
In ten years, I will have been my own boss for six years. I will have delegated most tasks to my closest employees to have more time for my real job: being a father. And after spending endless weeks in the garage, my Volvo V70 will finally be taken on a weekend ride.
Now, seriously. The first sentence is correct, the rest will occur much earlier.