Nicole Wesseling’s passion for making clothes began as a child engrossed in her Oma’s craft cupboard. Taught to knit before learning to sew, Nicole was "the one granddaughter who decided to turn this interest into a career", and it is turning out to be a career with momentum.
As winner of the 2009 Newmarket Young Fashion Designer competition, Nicole travelled to New York Fashion Week with Karen Walker, and received a first year scholarship to study design at Whitecliffe. An internship in the Taylor workroom during Nicole’s first tertiary year has had a huge influence on her knowledge of the industry, and Whitecliffe HOD Belinda Watt has since encouraged her explorations of sustainability.
Nicole focuses on construction and carefully-chosen textiles, and places importance on sustainable methods in all stages of production, rather than restricting herself to a specific aesthetic. She aims to create a point of difference in her designs, "something that can excite viewers and customers and challenge their views". Her first collection, Vincent, was inspired by the art world and her Dutch heritage, displaying the craftsmanship that makes Nicole’s designs so distinctive. Striking silhouettes take precedence over unnecessary embellishments, and texture comes from materials and the use of rich, natural colours. The result of Nicole’s meticulous design process is a young label offering versatile, effortlessly wearable clothing.
Nicole has made some detours through various facets of the industry on her design journey, working as the In-house Designer for the menswear label, FRENCH83, where she focused on tailoring and refined her knowledge of construction and fit. A stint as the Production Manager for Ingrid Starnes followed; a position that helped refine the making process and opened connections with all aspects of the local supply chain. With her hands-on experience in the sampling and design room, she expanded her interest in pattern-making while continuing to tweak her eye for fashion. Three of her crisp white shirts were included in the Intellectual Fashion Show exhibition. The year 2020 brought sudden changes to the world and also to her career and she pivoted into the screen industry as a machinist on a Netflix series, a move that reawakened her love of hands-on making and has inspired the launch of her new label, Oosterom. It has been named for her crafty Oma, Pietje van Oosterom, whom she says is "a wizard on the sewing machine with a heart of gold". With her new label Nicole once more embraces the values that were so evident in 2014 producing a limited collection of locally made pieces that tread lightly on the planet. Sold online or by appointment, to accommodate individual fitting and custom make, Oosterom has echoes of the designer salons of the 1950s, her Oma's era.
Text by Arielle Walker, update DdP. Banner image by Frances Carter © New Zealand Fashion Museum.
Last published August 2021.