Lucas Nascimento’s name is synonymous with luxury and knitwear alike. Here, the Brazilian-born designer and consultant reflects on his career, collaborations, and the impact of the ever-accelerating pace of fashion…
Let’s start at the beginning of your career: where did you study?
I come from Sao Paolo in Brazil, but I moved to London to go to London College of Fashion. My mother taught me how to knit when I was very young, and I felt very connected to textiles, so I wanted to do a knitwear course there – they had a really good technical course. It wasn’t necessarily that I wanted to be a fashion designer until I started at university, but instead it all happened very naturally.
So you weren’t interested in fashion from a young age?
Well, I come from a very Catholic family: boys needed to do boys stuff, and girls did girls stuff. It wasn’t very easy to express myself in that way; it wasn’t open. Fashion was a thing that girls did, but I remember always being fascinated by my sister, by what she was choosing to wear – especially because that was back in the 90s, during grunge.
What was your first job in the industry?
While I was studying, I started doing work placements and I started working for Sid Bryant. I did loads of hand knitting for him, and for Sibling, and it was really exciting. He also used to do a lot of consultancy work, and I would help him in the studio – then, one of my friends from Brazil saw what I was doing and introduced me to a brand she was working with, Ellus.
After that, people started noticing me a bit – and I realized that what I really wanted to do was design pieces that women could wear. That’s kind of how I moved from textiles into design – again, it all happened organically.
And when did you decide to launch your label, Lucas Nascimento?
After I graduated from LCF, the Brazilian Fashion Council invited me to be a part of a scheme which was kind of like NEWGEN – it had been created to promote the fashion weeks in Brazil. After two seasons doing that, I was still working in London, just travelling a lot, and then I got NEWGEN sponsorship. All that time, I was still working on consultancy for other people, other brands: people like Ports 1961. I always found it interesting to see the point of views of other designers and obviously I specialised in knitwear, so I could always bring that special energy to a collection.
How do you immerse yourself within a brand when you are consulting for them?
Again, it’s something quite natural that I can’t explain. Obviously I have my own aesthetic, but I can do all sorts of things: I can develop knits or, if you want more high tech techniques, I can do that – the more that I work, the more that I see how we can make high tech knitwear more human.
Firstly, I like to understand what a brand is about, and what the project about. I don’t have a big ego; I don’t go to a place and want everything to become all mine. I like to share things, to understand what people are looking for and have a dialogue with them.
If a brand wants to do knitwear as a way of making money within a collection, I always like to tell them: “OK, I can do something quite lucrative, but at the same time it’s about creating something that is very special – there are so much sweaters out there and we need to make yours look better and exciting in order to make this money.” So, I like to understand what they are about, what they want to do and what their ambitions are, but at the same time I like to put a little bit of me within the collections and brands I am working for.
And what does that input look like?
When it comes to luxury, of course I believe that things need to look good – but I believe that they need to be finished even better. I don’t see luxury just as a design, but I look at the garment I’m creating and how it is inside, how it is to touch. I have a very strong connection with the product itself, and I like things to last for a long time. They need be loved and they need to be special. They need to make sense in a wardrobe as well as on a catwalk. I see fashion that way. These things need to be desirable for you to wear, not just for a photograph.
Do you think that the fashion industry has changed since you’ve been a part of it?
Yes, I think it has changed; it is frenetic, the seasons are so fast and sometimes the joy of designing and making a product is not there – things which need two weeks to be developed properly need to be done in one. And now, every three months people have to come up with a new collection – yes, that’s good for business, but who is buying everything? What is the impact of that? Is it necessary? When it comes to luxury, these are the things that have to be thought about.
Luxury has to have a human touch to it so that people can be connected to what they are buying. Maybe you need a green T-shirt. Well, there are hundreds of green T-shirts out there. Luxury is the one that makes you feel special