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Alexandre Daillance Millinsky NASASEASONS hat brand
Millinsky, Eileen Kelly and Cyber 69Courtesy of NASASEASONS

How a French teenager got his designs on Rihanna

Stocked in retailers like Colette and worn by a who’s-who of internet It Kids, hat brand NASASEASONS represents a new guard of youth creativity

How do you get noticed as a designer in 2016? According to 19-year-old Parisian Alexandre Daillance (aka Millinsky), not by heading to fashion school, completing internships and then trying to make a name for yourself. Last year, Millinsky had an idea to raise the profile of his hat brand NASASEASONS, which he co-founded aged just 17 – he’d slide into the DMs of Instagram influencers (as well as the inboxes of buyers, fashion editors, and other members of the press) and get them to wear or feature his items.

“I contacted so many people – Ian Connor, Luka Sabbat, Virgil Abloh, Theophilus London, Keith Ape – that way,” he says today, having just dropped a collaboration with Russian DJ Cyber 69. The idea worked – within weeks, Rihanna was spotted wearing one of his designs. And Millinsky’s persistence didn’t stop at social media, with his repeated emails to buyers helping get his items stocked in stores including Colette alongside the likes of Gucci, Vetements and J.W. Anderson. Below, Millinsky discusses social media, Paris’s new guard, and why he won’t be surprised if Nike or adidas come knocking for a collab.

Who were the first people to start wearing your hats? How did you make that happen?

Millinsky: Theophilus London was the very first one! He has been so supportive. I met him for the first time at his Vibes listening party in October 2014, we kept in touch and he asked me for a hat last June and wore it at a concert. Then Keith Ape, Justine Skye, Trinidad James quickly followed. A month after it was Rihanna. Apart from the case of Theo and Keith, all the cool people who wore my hats bought them in stores such as Colette in Paris or 424 in LA.

How did you get people to start selling them?

Millinsky: I sent a lot of emails to the buyers. I knew it would be very difficult for me, an 18-year-old French guy, to sell my hats in high fashion retailers, but I knew it was necessary for my brand to become ‘respected’ and ‘established’ so I kept sending emails every month to convince them. I tried to meet with the buyers, Guillermo for 424 and Sarah for Colette, and when I eventually did I think they understood my potential. Meeting them face-to-face helped me to show them my motivation and gain their trust. They ordered 50 hats each at the beginning and keep asking for restock several times each month.

Do you think your generation are too obsessed with social media?

Millinsky: Yes definitely. I think social media is an amazing thing, especially for teenagers with ambitions because it can help us spread our work and projects, but at the same time I feel like some talented kids spend too much time on Instagram or Twitter and end up not doing anything. Also more generally I think social media makes everyone more dependent on other people’s opinions. Our generation lacks personal opinions and tastes. We like and want the same thing. But I have hope for the future, I am pretty sure the next generation will use it a little bit less and kids will develop their own personalities.

What's it like being a young streetwear designer – do people take you seriously?

Millinsky: It’s a great! Especially when I receive messages from young creatives who tell me how much I inspire them. Although in the streets we have been saying ‘The Youth Always Win’ for a long time, that’s not true. For years the youth were consumers, the power they had was to buy and make things fashionable in an indirect way. Now I think people like Gianni Mora, Shane Gonzales or me prove that youth aren’t only consumers but creators. We compete with the big corporations and I won’t be surprised if adidas or Nike asks for a collab because they need this new youth wave co-sign. Yes people take me seriously now but it took some time… I had to wait until people like Rihanna or Wiz Khalifa were wearing my hats for adults to fully see me as a relevant designer. But it’s ok, I’m fine with that.

What defines Paris youth at the moment? 

Millinsky: For a very long time there was no ‘youth’ in Paris unlike cities like New York or London. I think it comes from the fact that there is very few opportunities for kids to do something here. Since Paris is known for high fashion, the kids who want to create and do things have to go through a very institutional process and go to fashion schools. ‘Cool’ kids from Paris didn’t like to hang out together; they were all living in different areas… But now the opening of the new Supreme store in Paris proved to the kids that Paris has the potential to become a city known for both high fashion and streetwear. Now if you walk in the Marais you’ll see many French skaters and dozens of kids rocking some new Supreme, Gosha and even NASASEASONS pieces!

“For a very long time there was no ‘youth’ in Paris unlike cities like New-York or London...But the opening of the new Supreme store in Paris proved to the kids that Paris has the potential to become a city known for both high fashion and streetwear” – Millinsky

Do you like being the only 'kid' doing things in Paris or does it annoy you if people talk about your age?

Millinsky: Yes I do. I am kind of ‘unique’ in Paris because of that. I wish I could be 19 forever. I think like nowadays, it’s more of an advantage to be young when you’re starting to do music or fashion. Also most adults I work with don’t care about my age, they just care about the quality of my ideas. If adults are scared of dealing with ‘kids’ it’s because they think we won’t be responsible at for example answering emails quickly in case of an emergency, be consistent with the quality of our work, be able to overcome shipping or manufacturing problems… You just have to prove them they are wrong and they will trust you!

What are your plans for the future of your brand?

Millinsky: I am planning on making for more than hats for my new collection ! I am working on making the thermal jacket the most fashionable piece of 2017. I will continue to make hats but with different materials such as velvet and wool. To me NASASEASONS is like Apple, hats will always be the ‘iPod’ but you shall see my version of the Macbook, iPhone and iPad soon.