Nick Fouquet describes his personal style as samurai chic x French aristocrat x rocker on peyote in the desert. That’d be a bold claim, if that weren’t the exact combination of vibes the wares of this Venice-based hatmaker give off. Cued by vintage headwear styles, this globe-trotting craftsman tries to envision the hats of the future.
CONVICTS caught up with him at his hat shop for a chat. He explained the way confidence works as a muscle, Zen and the art of hat-fitting, and the influence he finds in the everyday.
Hey mate, can you introduce yourself for us?
My name’s Nick Fouquet, I live in Venice California and I’m a hat maker.
And where are we now?
Well right now we’re at my shop at 853 Lincoln Boulevard in Venice and it’s a sunny day in L.A.
Tell us about Lincoln Boulevard?
Well, Lincoln’s still a little noisy, still a little dirty. It’s cleaned up a lot in the last two years, at least since I’ve been here. But the sounds are loud cars, the smells are exhaust. It’s not flowers, it’s not lavender but it’s definitely a good vibe on the street.
Do you look to Lincoln Boulevard, or Venice in general, for creative inspiration?
I don’t want to sound cliche but I find inspiration in actually everything. I’ll be walking down the street to get a cup of coffee and I might see a homeless person to the left and I’ll grab something from that. Or I’ll hear a piece of music or watch a movie or drive down the coast and subconsciously all these things come together into a bigger idea. Inspiration is everywhere if tune into it.
Is your creative process laid out and business-like, or artistic and organic?
I’m not a planner. I think that hinders you creatively at times It’s more organic and real and raw to create on the spot and come up with a more an eccentric aesthetic on the spot rather than premeditate what’s going to be done in a design. Having a free falling flow of ideas is more conducive to the aesthetic of the brand.
So what are you aiming to do with the brand’s aesthetic?
It’s a bit like: how can we make things in a contemporary way rather than recreating what has already been done in the past? I’m more interested in what hats are in 2020 rather than 1902.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
My style has always been an amalgamation of different personal ethoses, whether that’s a Japanese samurai or a Western cowboy or an East Coast country club member. It’s a bit of a bohemian luxury experience. It’s this well-travelled man or woman that has a carefree spirit but understands quality, understands craftsmanship. It’s a little nature and a little city. I always describe it as like Keith Richards meets like a French country club member meets a samurai meets a cowboy you know, and travels the world.
Do you see a conversation between the style of a hat and somebody’s natural look?
Well that’s a little bit more of an art in itself. It has to do a lot about proportions, height, facial structure, skin tone, eye colour, hair colour, and ultimately really the vibe. All those sort of play a big role into deciding what would be the perfect hat for each person.
How does your process change when you’re crafting a bespoke hat for a client?
Someone comes in with a conceptual idea of what they want for a hat and then me and the team execute it. It’s sort of a collaboration between us and them, trying to figure out how to bring their vision to life. So it really depends from case to case.
What’s it like when a client sees that vision brought to life?
You definitely see a bit of a transformation. When they come to pick their hat up, you see them gain some confidence and go out in the world with this new accessory that’s utilitarian but also a fashion statement.
You seem like a pretty self-assured dude. Talk a bit about that confidence.
We all have the capability of confidence. It’s almost like a muscle. To be more and more confident, you need to act confident, in a humble way, not an arrogant way. But I think that ultimately it can be worked on.
What else have you learned as a hatmaker?
It’s like an interesting sociological study in a lot of ways, being a hatmaker. I’ve been introduced to some very interesting characters and people and think I’ve learned more about myself than I’ve learned about other people. It’s been really an interesting journey.
Speaking of journeys, you’ve travelled a lot.
Going to university for four years was an amazing experience, but I learned a lot more in a year travelling than I ever did in four years at a confined institution. Whether it was travelling to Patagonia or Nepal or Australia or Morocco, or you know countless other places I think is really attributed to the person that I am today of course. To me it was sort of a classroom, seeing the different cultures, the different styles, the different aesthetics, the different people shaped the person I am today and the direction that I decided to take the brand.
Where are you from originally?
I was born in New York and then shortly after-my father’s French-so we moved to the southwest of France. My parents were a little bohemian so we’d move around. I moved back to Florida at a young age.
How are you feeling about America these days?
Man that’s a fully loaded question but…it’s the land of the free and the brave and I hope we just keep it that way.
Alright fair enough, easier question. What do you like to do for fun?
What I do for fun? I mean, I love to get in the ocean, I love to get out in nature, do hikes, I like to read, I like to meditate, I like to travel.
And lastly, do you have a favorite hat?
My favourite hat changes all the time. My favourite hat is usually the one that’s on my head until I sell it.
Excellent, man. Thanks for the chat.