Varyer + Small Talk | Varyer
A person illustrates on a hoodie.

Varyer +
Small Talk

People buy artworks for all sorts of reasons, one of which is to display great acts of creative expression they find moving or inspiring. But what about apparel? Why can’t the things we wear out in the world have the same connotation and meaning as a painting or photograph?

Take it a step further: If artworks are creative acts by others that feel like manifestations of a part of our souls, what if you could have custom-made apparel that’s both an artist’s work and an extension of who you are?

Two masculine people work from a table full of art supplies.

Nick Williams’s Small Talk Studio poses and answers these questions directly. For his custom pieces, you send a list or scrapbook of things you’re interested in, which includes, according to Small Talk, “nostalgic references, significant personal objects, words, art pieces, food items, music, etc. Let it be a stream of consciousness- the more the better.” Williams then applies a combination of screen printing, illustration, and for an added fee, embroidery to create vivid, muralistic pieces that manifest cross-psyche artistry. To put it simply, you are rocking sick artwork on your clothing, and the artwork represents, literally, the things that interest you.

Unfortunately, Small Talk’s IG’s current bio reads, “custom orders CLOSED,” which speaks to its demand right now.

“I think I made the transition to starting to draw on clothes at the right moment,” Williams says.

He’s being coy: In the past few years Williams has taken commissions for some major fashion and streetwear figures — including Matty Matheson, Mordechai Rubinstein, and the late Virgil Abloh — and appeared in GQ, Hypebeast, Complex, and Blackbird Spyplane., In the words of De La Soul, he’s blown up, but he hasn’t gone pop.

In January 2021, Williams brought in longtime friend Phil Ayers to help expand Small Talk from clothing design and illustration into design work for diverse brands.

“We're definitely still focused mainly on clothes, but I think the illustration, that's the thing we're known for,” Williams says. “We try to let it be more multidisciplinary. If I am in the middle of a drawing, Phil and I will discuss what things we need more of. We both have sort of the same instincts when it comes to going on public domain archives and knowing what to look for. We fill each other's blind spots in that practice pretty well and find fun.”

Small Talk’s pieces go against the grain of an era plagued by fast fashion and industrial waste, opting for a process that’s labor-intensive and crafting apparel that’s sui generis and thought-provoking. If you’re looking for clothing that’s meaningful and indispensable, this is your destination.

An illustrated hoodie reads "ST/V+" with an angel over the text.
An illustrated and embroidered hoodie hangs in front of a window.
A masculine person wearing sunglasses wears an embroidered hoodie with the hood up.
A close-up photo of a denim jacket shows a pin with a red hand giving the peace sign on the pocket.

Photography by Christian Michael Filardo; enamel pin and shop photos by Jackie Krejnik.

About the collaboration

Varyer and Small Talk first linked up when our cofounder Chris Kaskie commissioned an illustration for one of his jackets, which in turn opened up a we-should-do-something-together dialogue. The result is a chimerical hoodie, sporting an assortment of embroidered images that defy the conventional single-graphic sweatshirt. The fleece is made entirely from cotton manufacturing waste – no dye, just raw, unbleached cotton. The Small Talk x Varyer hoodie is in a limited run, a “scaled-up” version of Small Talk’s one-of-a-kind creations.

Our friends at Strike Gently Co. in Los Angeles created two unique custom pins to accent the hoodie, one for Small Talk and one for Varyer. The pins are made with gold, silver, or black electroplated metals and hand-filled with enamel.