Husband and wife team Nikita Miller and Omar Asadi are behind the new minimalist Melbourne womenswear label Nikita Miller, which launched in August.
The “part one” collection is made-to-order and features simple, structured staples that look and feel almost Japanese.
Standout pieces include the oversized long-sleeve Luan shirtdress (which resembles a trench coat and can be worn different ways) with an exaggerated, razor-sharp collar. The high-waisted Kimbo pants are utilitarian and come with a wide cuff and piped detailing. Wear the Bonte long-sleeve wrap top tied up or as a lightweight jacket.
Designer Miller’s family moved to Auckland from Cape Town, South Africa, in the late ’90s. It was around this time her husband Asadi’s family also immigrated to New Zealand from Baghdad, Iraq. The duo met in 2009 and moved to Melbourne five years ago.
“I saw her working at a Ralph Lauren store in Auckland,” Asadi says. “I had $150 in my bank account to last me for a week. I was still a uni student – broke as a joke. And I bought a $120 shirt just so I could have a chat. When the opportunity came I totally bombed.
Miller (who graduated from Auckland University of Technology with a bachelor of fashion design) and creative director Asadi (who started his career in advertising and moved onto digital design) came together to design pieces in 2017, taking inspiration from the performing arts. “Music and dance have been a big part of our cultures,” says Asadi.
They began thinking about dancers’ silhouettes – how garments move and perform on the body. And, specifically, how each garment absorbs and carries light. It’s this that they’ve tried to incorporate into an everyday wardrobe.
“We’re [also] inspired by people-watching and how [people] carry themselves in public,” says Asadi. “Observing how their garments fit them or don’t fit them – the movement and shape. It’s a little weird but you’d be amazed at how much you learn from just observing.”
Miller uses cottons, silks, wool and linen blends, and most of the fabric is dead-stock from Melbourne and Auckland. She’s stuck to a simple, accessible colour palette: sand, a crisp white, spearmint, caramel and “black stripe”.
“We’ve chosen these fabrics because they’re trans-seasonal. So wherever you are in the world you [can] pick up our Nou Nou coat,” says Asadi.
The couple plans to roll out seasonal collections that focus on longevity and quality. Nikita Miller pieces are produced in small quantities to allow for local manufacturing and to ensure quality control across fabrics and finishes.
So far Miller and Asadi have done everything on their own, from sourcing fabric and local producers to branding, photography and managing the label’s digital presence.
“Separating business from personal [matters] is an art in itself,” says Miller. “We’re still figuring it out. However, our greatest achievement so far is that we’ve managed to pretty much do it all by ourselves.”