‘this is nice’ is an online publication that blossomed from the love of conversation. Recently, we had the pleasure of speaking to the two founders—Alejandra and Jaz—and got to know them outside of their brand.
In Conversation: 'this is nice'
Tell us a little bit about ‘this is nice’ for those who don’t know what it is.
‘this is nice’ is an online publication that blossomed from the love of conversation. The appreciation we have for fashion, beauty, art and culture runs deep through our ethos. We admire artists both established and undiscovered. We really just wanted to have fun and create something where artists found it approachable to interact with as well. We create thoughtful editorials, interview other creatives in our industry, show what we’ve been loving lately on THE EDIT (https://www.thisisnice.com.au/the-edit), and curate the best tunes on RADIO (https://www.thisisnice.com.au/radio) to enjoy all the before with.
Outside of ‘this is nice’, who are you (Alejandra and Jax) as individuals?
AG: The thing about working in a creative industry, being a stylist is a part of who I am. My affinity for fashion and design is never turned off and I observe the beauty and colour in nearly everything. I’m someone who carries around a little notebook for ideas I have in the moment, or things I’ve noticed, things I am feeling. A lot of the way I style has to do with the way it makes me, the model, or the client feel. A lot of my styling work is based on past experiences, or things I particularly enjoy. Styling is super individual, it’s really whatever you feel best in and only you can bring that to life. I love that creativity is individual. Besides work which is so fun and fulfilling on its own, I love the ocean, learning about other artist practices, and traveling to see how other cultures live. I like bringing sunshine to my friends and families lives, so any fun or spontaneous experiences - i’m down.
JR: Outside of ‘this is nice’ I am the exact same person I am when I’m working on ‘this is nice’. The beauty of what Ali and I have created is that we can be our true selves all the time. We’ve tailored our roles to fit our strengths and weaknesses and have set no boundaries on where ‘this is nice’ can take us creatively, personally and professionally. Through working on ‘this is nice’ I’ve confirmed many things I already thought true about myself- I’m a perfectionist, sometimes to a fault, I’m competitive, very detail oriented, and very hard on myself. These qualities aren’t all always positive or helpful, but I feel they make me who I am and I’m really happy with who I have become- especially since launching ‘this is nice’.
What were the sequence of events that led to the founding of ‘this is nice’?
AG: Jax and I have a great love for fashion and design. It really blossomed from us sending things back and forth to each and saying ‘wow this is nice’. So it’s really a celebration of conversations with friends. We’re chatting one day and we both felt like it would be nice to have something of our own. We went back and forth on what that would be, what tone the publication would have, the whole vibe.
What is ‘this is nice’’s purpose as a brand? And as a voice?
AG: We created ‘this is nice’ to bring to life our concepts, tone of writing, and brand curation to share with our community. I wanted a piece of me to be reflected in the brand and the voice. Approachable, fun, conversational, timeless and elevated. Creating meaningful relationships with other creatives, and promoting our shared ethos is great too. We wanted to work with brands and show their story through the ‘this is nice’ lens.
JR: We created ‘this is nice’ to show the world our take on fashion, art and creativity. We want to empower people to try something new, wear something different- to take people to the edge of their comfort zone and think of things a little differently.
You collaborate with a lot of brands and individuals, who of those ‘this is nice’ has collaborated with is a stand out, and why?
AG: It’s been really great to connect with Australian brands I’ve always loved. We’re about cultivating home grown talent, our audience base is about 50% Australian and 50% American. Australia truly has the best brands and we love them having international recognition. For me, I remember moving to Sydney for University, walking up and down Oxford Street because I wanted to see the fashion in Sydney in person. I used to go in and try everything on, I was so curious how things fit that I saw in magazines. I particularly remember loving Sarah and Sebastian for their handmade jewelry and their timber boxes. They were the first brand I recognized saying “This piece was handmade by _____ “. That human touch was important to me then and still important to me now. I also love featuring Matteau in our editorials, I live in their bathers and their ready-to-wear pieces are classic. For luxury brands, I remember assisting Micaela Erlanger’s team when I was living in New York and she pulled some of the most beautiful custom pieces. It’s great to pull for myself runway pieces from Chanel, Bottega Veneta, Saint Laurent and Bvlgari.
JR: We are so fortunate to have worked with so many amazing people and brands since launching only months ago. Personally I have really enjoyed our work with the Australian brand Aje. I first began working with the brand a few years ago by loaning looks for events that I was attending. That eventually grew into attending press showings, their opening show at fashion week and most recently interviewing co-founders Edwina and Adrian for ‘this is nice’. I think it’s amazing to see how one email can open the door to opportunities you might not even realize are a possibility at the time of sending.
In your WHO WE ARE section on the ‘this is nice’ website, it reads: “As a brand we believe in transparency, diversity and working toward more sustainable practices.” Can you share more on these three principles? How important is transparency in fashion? What is diversity to you? And what’s a practice you are working toward becoming more sustainable in?
AG: Transparency and sustainability intertwined for me. I think transparency on how many people it took to make an image is important. In a digitally saturated world, with images cycling so fast, it can get lost who actually made them. It’s important to me that everyone on our editorial team gets credit for their role. It goes the same for garments. Personally, I find it great when brands are transparent about the whole process. It makes me want to invest in the piece, I value the time it took to make. Sustainability looks different to everyone. It could be buying from sustainable brands which pay properly for labor and source eco-conscious fabrics, or it can be loving a handmade luxury piece and pass it on for generations to come. We always aim to feature as many sustainable brands as possible, we pull a lot of vintage, use a lot of “stylist’s own” pieces to further implement the idea of recycling. Ultimately it’s about being conscious of the way we interact with the things we buy.
It’s so important to cast a diverse range of body types and ethnicity. My mum is from the Philippines and their work ethic and culture is something to be celebrated. I was born in Australia and grew up on the east coast of the United States. I didn’t really know any other filipinos other than family. It’s always great for me when I see representation of someone who looks like me in the media. Seeing someone you relate to rock a piece of clothing, it’s like “wait yeah I can totally wear the piece like that too”. I’ve only recently seen some filipino models come onto the scene and I love connecting with talent on a personal level. We’ve worked with Filipino Photographer, Luisa Brimble, and talked about doing filipino food crawl. I love it.
JR: I think in a world where information is so accessible it’s almost silly for a brand to not be openly transparent about their practices and if they aren’t open about them, there is generally a not so great reason why. Overall fashion isn’t a particularly sustainable industry and we feel it’s the least we can do to highlight and bring awareness to brands that are beginning to make changes for the better.
Diversity to me is working with and representing the people that make up the world. Not everyone is a 6ft model that wears a size 0, so why should we only shoot girls that fit that brief? It’s not fair to future generations to limit their dreams based on appearance or genetics. Australia is the first country I’ve modeled in where I haven’t been critiqued on my body type. In the past I’ve been labeled as everything from “too thin” to “too big”, “too curvy”, “too tall”... the list goes on. If we hold any power as a publication I want it to show people that you shouldn’t have to change who you are in order to achieve what you want in life- and if someone tells you differently, you’re not talking to the right person.
What drew you (Alejandra) to featuring Silk Laundry in your latest Resort Edit?
AG: I’ve always loved silk slips. Silk Laundry is known for fun colours and prints. They’re classic, easy to wear on set, run around prepping for shoots, but I can still wear leather trainers and be comfortable (or slip on strappy sandals to wear for after work drinks). I actually saw my friend, and fellow stylist, Molly King, wear the Bias Cut Silk Laundry pants and thought wow I need those on my list. If you can believe it, as a stylist it actually takes me a long time to buy something. I like pieces being versatile and know I’ll wear a piece for years. If I can’t see multi-use wear I don’t buy it. Silk is always chic, always classic.
You travel frequently between New York City and Sydney. How has COVID-19 impacted ‘this is nice’ given travel restrictions?
AG: This year has been so challenging creatively and mentally. The United States and Australia are functioning completely differently right now and I have family living in both. Typically I fly between the countries easily, but I was in Sydney right as the pandemic was hitting in March and decided I should leave to be back with my parents and partner back in the states. We’ve been producing concepts in both Sydney and New York, so keeping each other on the same page has been really important for us as a business. In our copy, I’m always aware of how people are functioning in this environment. So a lot of the concepts have been created around comfort and things that don’t seem ridiculous to promote in this time.
When the COVID-19 pandemic ends (and thus the restrictions that come with it), individually (Alejandra and Jax) what's the first thing you want to do and why?
AG: Definitely go see my sister in Australia. I miss her, we’re used to being together a lot. We are little mermaids at the beach always. I remember leaving her in March saying I’ll see you soon - clearly had no idea what was to come this year. I’m dying to be in Bondi and back working with Australian creative teams, as well as catching up with new people I’ve met this year! So many interactions have been virtual these days so face to face over some tea (or wine) would be lovely.
JR: Go back to America to see my parents, as of now it’s been 14 months and I’ve got a feeling it will be a little bit longer… Also pending my partner actually proposing, I would LOVE to get married.
For all reading this, what are some of your top recommendations for those in locked-down areas? Suggested readings? Playlists? Indoor activities?
AG: As Jax said below - cook as much as possible. Try making something new. I’m stuck in suburbia at the moment, mum and I have been loving going on walks. Being in nature, or even just outside, is so calming. Connect with friends. My friends have given me so much support, we've been able to talk and be super open about how we’re feeling in such an uncertain time. Laugh, cry, whatever. It’s all good with old friends. Also music. Music… can cure nearly everything. Check out our Radio (https://www.thisisnice.com.au/radio) curated by my sister! She’s always the one everyone asks to play music… It's a good mix of soul, jazz, classic rock, pop and r&b.
JR: Get into a routine and cook as much as possible! I swear those are the only things that made lockdown not so horrible for me. Wake up, have a shower, get dressed in real clothes, make a proper breakfast, spend way too long deciding what to cook for dinner, walk to the grocery store (if allowed), cook the dinner, listen to music, go to bed and repeat! I also think it’s extremely important to stay connected to your friends and family in whatever way possible - Facetime, Zoom, email or even writing a letter...everyone loves getting a letter in the mail!! Or at least I do ...