Nick Jonas remembers his first suit fondly: a green double-breasted suit that he wore with braces and a bow tie at age three. Years later, history would repeat itself at the Richard Chai show in New York, where he sat front row in a double-breasted green suit. The irony wasn’t lost on his mother, who put pictures of the kid suit and the grown-up suit side-by-side, which Jonas thought was hilarious.
At the Spring/Summer 2016 edition of London Collections Men, Jonas returned to the front row at the Topman Design fashion show, clad in a velvet burgundy blazer, stacked black skinny jeans, and burnished brown boots. An affinity for fashion seems to run in the family. Joe Jonas is a New York Fashion Week fixture, while Nick is no stranger to fashion magazines and also happens to be a Wilhelmina model. On a more cerebral level, he says the brothers have always had an interest in the fashion world. For him, it’s a way of experiencing culture through clothing.
“A lot of what happens in the fashion world in general actually informs artistry on a deeper level,” he says. That’s not to say he’s a big shopper. While the idea of shopping doesn’t terrify him as it would most men, he prefers a more sniper-like approach: going to a store with a specific item in mind, zeroing in on it, and buying it immediately. When he lived in New York, he often frequented the nearby Topman, where he utilized the Personal Shopping service to make his visits easier.
“I think the great part is once the Personal Shopping stylists start to know what you like, they set the items up perfectly and you just get in and get out,” he says.
Nick’s personal style skews more casual than tailored. During our interview, he was clad in a black curved-brim baseball cap, a paneled black hoodie from Garciavelez, skinny black jeans, and slightly scuffed white high-tops from luxury sneaker label Common Projects. He works closely with a stylist, but has certainly developed some rules of his own. He attended the 2016 Met Gala in a custom Topman look that he consulted on the design of.
“I’m really all about the classic approach, but with some bold elements. That’s my style guide in general,” he says. During Vanity Fair’s Oscar Party the week after his Topman cover shoot, he puts that philosophy into practice, wearing a slim black tuxedo with peak lapels and of-the-moment Chelsea boots. He looks every bit like himself, with a healthy dose of the “Old Hollywood” vibe that’s seeped into red carpet menswear. The look is absolutely a modern classic.
“I think that the minute you put on a suit, you feel like a man. It becomes this thing where you’re locked in,” he says. “It’s really a nice thing, especially since I have a shaved head, so the clothing is really important.”
But in a men’s style landscape where the suit is diminishing in favour of casual sportswear and easy-wearing staples like jeans, hoodies, T-shirts, and bomber jackets, where does tailored clothing fit into the everyday wardrobe? For Jonas, that means injecting just enough tailoring to make a statement, and balancing it out with easy-wearing basics. Hence, the burgundy blazer with the black t-shirt and jeans, and the otherwise conservative tuxedo with old-school peak lapels.
“I think it makes a bolder statement when you can take suiting and do something really unique to your style, especially when a lot of what you wear is more casual,” says Jonas. “In those moments, I always think about how to make a big impact.”
Speaking of bold statements, Jonas’ acting career has been defined by roles that redefine uber-macho character tropes. Whether it’s gay MMA fighter Nate Kulina in Kingdom, the sexually ambiguous Boone in Scream Queens, or protective older brother Brett Land in Goat, a performance that garnered him praise at Berlinale and Sundance. Jonas is attracted to these kinds of roles
because they have an element of social commentary, or the story speaks to something larger than himself.
“With Goat for instance, the hazing is hard to watch, and the relationship between the two brothers is a real tentpole in the whole film,” he says. “But at its core, you leave thinking about what
masculinity in 2016 looks like.”
And while he can’t perfectly define what modern masculinity is, he can certainly describe it: “It’s about feeling comfortable and confident as a man. Whether that’s emotionally or physically.
Jonas stresses the importance of community as well, and the people who have an influence on you. He credits being reared in a home with a strong moral compass and a priority to practice empathy to everyone as helping him develop a worldview that stems from acceptance. With a big fanbase in the LGBQT community,
he’s a firm believer in keeping an open dialogue, especially about taboo topics like sex, growing into your own skin, and becoming your true self —whoever that may be.
For him, the Internet can be a great tool for people to find those sorts of like-minded communities, especially if they may not live in that sort of setting.
“I think there are a lot of things influencing culture, making people more aware. Anyone can look at some of the negative that’s out there and be aware of the fact that we have a long way to go, but I think we’re moving towards a real plane of acceptance—which is great,” says Jonas. “We’re making progress. Even in hip-hop culture for instance, the lyricists who are breaking through have something real to say, and it’s a broad worldview.”
An avid social media user, he’s especially fascinated with how newer platforms like Vine and Snapchat don’t just allow celebrities like himself to interact with fans—they’re viable launch pads for entire careers. He cites label mate Shawn Mendes, a Vine superstar, as bona fide proof of the power of cultivating a social fan base. Nick Jonas is fully aware of this, and boasts some 6 million Instagram followers. Some of his favourite accounts to follow provide a view into his diverse tastes - from men’s lifestyle publication Hypebeast, hilarious meme aggregator Fuckjerry to several cigar and watch aficionado accounts.
Jonas also in a place where he’s witnessed the disruption of the entertainment industry first-hand. Not just in the way consumers listen to and get their music, but how they interact with celebrities and find their own cultural figures.
“Everything has to evolve, and the world never stops turning,” he says. “So you have to be aware of the fact that as a creative person, it’s important to stay as close to the cutting edge as you can, because you can fall behind, which is scary.”
That curious philosophy also applies to how he thinks about his music. As artists like Rihanna and Kanye West—fellow members of the Roc Nation family—drop albums on exclusive platforms like Tidal, Jonas is keenly aware of the challenges current artists are facing in the new entertainment paradigm. And he’s open to adapting accordingly.
“It’s important to be creative in how you give your fans and people that aren’t familiar with the music access, because they’re not all just going to buy it or stream it,” says Jonas. “I’m not counting out that I would never do that—I might— but I feel like it’s worked for them.”
The ever-changing landscape can be tough for new artists to navigate, which is why last year, Jonas partnered with fellow pop star Demi Lovato and veteran talent manager Phil McIntyre to form Safehouse Records, a self-proclaimed “artist-centric” record label. As established artists often go on to mentor the next generation, Nick Jonas says one of the biggest lessons he’s learned is how to let go and cede control to your team.
“I was pretty controlling at the time with the brothers, and even at the beginning of my solo stuff,” he admits. “But it was actually when I took a step back and gave up some control that I was creatively free to write a song that would redefine my career.”
His advice to up-and-coming and aspiring artists is simple: “Trust the people that you work with, and even if it doesn’t go the way you planned, there’s a lesson in there that can help you next time.” Beyond starting a label, Nick Jonas is also finishing up a new album. The past few years have been sort of a
musical spirit quest.
In addition to influences like Stevie Wonder, Johnny Cash, and Prince, he’s been embracing new artists ranging from J. Cole to Drake. Jonas says the new album will include surprising features from artists Ty Dolla $ign to Swedish songwriter Tove Lo.
“This is the most personal work I’ve ever done,” admits Jonas. “I went through a lot last year career-wise, but also in my personal life,” he continued, addressing a breakup that took place last year.
That breakup served as the inspiration for a song on the new album, the uniquely-named “Bacon.”
“The chorus is: ‘Life is so good, I might as well throw some bacon on it.’ It’s a song written after a breakup, when I finally had a moment realizing I was going to be okay,” says Jonas. . Indeed, with a new album under his belt, the Future Now tour with Demi Lovato this summer, and a critically acclaimed film, it looks like Nick Jonas will be bringing home the bacon.
This interview was taken from the Topman Magazine - grab your copy in selected stores now.