I’m Nina, a London based designer. My brand ‘Nina Ullrich’ stands for functional minimalism, a bold aesthetic and detailed exquisite artistry. I love working with my hands and devoting time and precision to my craft(s). My all black collections aren’t seasonal but classic with a small production run and most items are ‘made-to-order’. New styles are added when I feel creative and excited about a new technique or variation - I also enjoy making something bespoke and special. Most of my styles are unisex. Having a background in fashion and knitwear, I discovered leather as an equally versatile material much later but figured that it perfectly meets my demands for a technical design approach and the intimate, strong process of still making things by hand. Making hats morphed from initial curiosity into a full blown passion in 2019. I have to admit that sometimes I favour hat making over leather craft. It is still very new to me and I enjoy this journey of continuous learning and experimenting!
I like to use vegetable tanned leather sourced through a trusted British supplier. These beautiful semi matte skins have been through a traditional tanning process using natural products such as tree barks. My leather is a byproduct and therefore sustainable, from a small tannery in Belgium. My leather collection is designed to be timeless and durable, getting more beautiful with age as the leather softens and takes on a patina. In fact vegetable tanned leather can be more environmentally friendly and durable than ‘vegan’ alternatives. I favour natural materials wherever possible - unless a component is increasing my products durability.
My hats are mostly made from rabbit fur felt or ‘peachbloom velour’ which is imported from the Czeck Republic via a trusted UK supplier. Rabbit felt is also a byproduct and sustainable. I personally favour it over wool but understand some customers prefer it. I also love making straw hats for the summer.
‘Good design is sustainable design’ (Imran Amed) - Good design is functional, durable and sustainable. It shouldn’t cost us our planet. It’s important to ask the questions about origin - how was it made, who made it and where? Tracing back the origin of a product and for me as a designer the supply chain and the materials I use. All my suppliers are amazing and incredibly helpful and open so I can be with my customers. I like to offer timeless and sustainable products that will last you for years to come and most of them even get more beautiful with age (especially the leather!). I also offer repairs for both leather and millinery.
My packaging is sustainable, recyclable and plastic free wherever possible! Most of my leather products come in their own hand printed cotton dust bags which can be used to store your clutch or belt but also relinquish the need for gift wrapping if ordered as a present for someone else (they are also lovely for all kinds of storage at home). Tissue paper is an environmentally friendly alternative to bubble wrap and so much prettier too! I also add a free hand printed tote bag to every order which gives the products extra cushioning on their journey and are very well received treats and incentives to go plastic free when shopping.
I founded my creative concept ‘Nocturnal Aesthetics’ in 2017 whilst still sharing a studio with other designers in Shoreditch. My heart beats for all things dark, all my collections are black but my brand itself is quite minimalist. My other side, the one that loves all things romantic and macabre was looking for an outlet whilst also aiming to create a platform for collaborations with other designers. Special collaboration pieces or even whole capsule collections were created, for example the silver bird and raven skull belts with Marie Rabe from Misan Jewellery. We met the same year at an East London Artisan market and decided there and then we had to work together.
Nocturnal Aesthetics became a social space to share ideas and host events. I started collecting vintage pieces a couple of years ago and increasingly wear vintage, combining it with my own designs and my fellow designer friends creations. I met Nina Kovacevic from War & Drobe in 2019 whilst attending one of her amazing classes. She joined our collective and not only helped rework some vintage pieces but also created a beautiful collection made from the materials. Her gorgeous velvet headbands compliment my selection of velvet dresses perfectly. I also felt very honoured that she agreed to use some leather and suede I gave her to create a limited edition. I believe in investing in good quality. I like the idea of my pieces becoming beautiful and desirable vintage items in their own right one day. ‘Buy less, choose well, make it last’ (Vivienne Westwood).
I’m bringing up this section last because it forms the smallest part of my products and is also something I outsource to two of my dear jeweller friends here in London. There isn’t really a reason for me never getting that deep into jewellery. I started and understand the basics but soldering has always scared me a little bit and I never fell in love with the making side of it. I do however love to design small collections every couple of years.
I admire the skill and experience of the jewellers I work with and every piece is still handmade here in London
and hallmarked to prove it.