they seem cool

The Menswear Designer Who Was Almost a Professor

Meet Nikko Lencek-Inagaki.

Photo: Shaniqwa Jarvis
Photo: Shaniqwa Jarvis

Nikko Lencek-Inagaki’s journey to fashion design was simple — he started making clothes he couldn’t find but wanted for himself. He’s now the designer of Freemans Sporting Club, a men’s store in New York and Tokyo. He’s worked at Freemans in “just about every job there could be at a small company.” Before that, he was working as a magazine writer, covering arts, culture and travel — a job he pursued after deciding he didn’t want to be a history or anthropology professor. But he’s found his way to design, and now makes elevated basics for men who want to be stylish but under the radar. We spoke with him about Nina Simone, Champagne, and Slovenia.

What is your most-used emoji?
The Champagne bottle. Mostly because that’s my reply whenever someone asks me what I’m doing.

If you could spend three months anywhere where would it be?
Right now, it would be at some kind of monastery.

If you had a superpower, what would it be? 
It would be awesome to be able to fly. I’m sure everyone says that, but it’s because we’re all right.

What’s the best album ever made?
The one I listen to most often is Nina Simone’s Pastel Blues, or one of her live albums.

What’s your go-to karaoke song?
I don’t have a singing voice; I barely have a speaking voice.

Who is someone that you think is cool?
Easy answer is Prince or Whoopi Goldberg.

What fictional character would you want to hang out with? 
Did you ever read about Harold and his big purple crayon? I’d want to hang out with Harold.

Jeans or sweats?

If you were a magazine, what magazine would you be? 
It’s called Trace and it was my first job.

What is something your social media followers don’t know about you? 
It seems like I’m really bad at it, but I have a whole library of stuff I want to post but never get around to it.

If you could be outfitted by one designer for the rest of your life who would it be?
Hedi Slimane. 

What was the last website you looked at? 
Last night when I was trying to cook Slovenian fried potatoes I was looking at a website that was in Slovenian. I don’t read or speak it. My mom wanted something from home and I was trying to figure it out.

What do you eat for breakfast?

If you could only eat three things for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Pickled onions, coffee, and steak.

If you were a color what color would you be? 
All of them.

Photo: Shaniqwa Jarvis

Nikko wears a Marni sweater and Freemans Sporting Club pants.

The Menswear Designer Who Was Almost a Professor