Many people would argue that when starting your career in a particular area of expertise you should invest all your time and energy into that venture, ensuring that your skills exceed those of your competition. Nick Azar believes otherwise, as he amalgamates his love for fashion design and photography in his everyday life. “I am blessed to have the opportunity to combine and focus my creativity in these twin fields. It allows me to do the things I enjoy the most every day”.
Crossing the line between being head designer and photographer of his own eco-fashion label, The Great Beyond, and a freelance photographer for fashion bloggers, Azar has never felt more fulfilled, “I've always wanted to be an artist, I can't remember ever really wanting to do anything else”. Before pursuing his true passion he completed his degree in electrical engineering and practiced for eight years. But just like many other countless dreamers, he wanted more. “I believed it was a more sensible career choice, but I didn't find satisfaction there. I spent all my free time on creative pursuits, developing as an artist, photographer and fashion designer”.
Azar’s love for truth and authenticity in life is clearly evident in the way he photographs people. There isn’t too much glitz or glamour—just the true soul of the subject in front of the lens. “I'm interested in exposing the essence of people and things in a candid way; finding the angles that really work without forcing it. My goal is to capture a truthful expression, a simple moment of beauty. Simplicity is a big part of my approach”. The simplicity of Azar’s imagery flows into his approach to design. He launched The Great Beyond with a twelve-piece basics collection for women, using four effortless colours: blue, white, black and grey. As a final green touch to his designs each crop top, top and dress is made from bamboo material, an eco-friendly fibre.
Respecting the earth was a key factor for Azar when creating The Great Beyond. “It is very important to adopt sustainability in everything that we do, so that we can build and improve humanity in our time and for future generations”. That is why he strives for his label to be a part of the world’s greener tomorrow. “We are in every way imaginable a product of our environment, I mean planetary environment, nature in the widest sense. So it only makes sense to respect and protect our source as a matter of highest priority”. His compassion for the environment is reflected in the manifesto on The Great Beyond website that reads, “Our vision is to create eco-friendly fashion through luxury fabrics and staple pieces that complement the modern woman and the environment”.
Azar traveled to Australian soil from his hometown, Santiago, Argentina, at a young age to create a new life for him and his family. Although he is always quick to praise his new home, there is one thing he wishes Australia would embrace: “clearly defined seasons. We have very hot summers and really cold winters in Argentina so people choose their clothing accordingly in a big way. I appreciate the idea of dressing to suit the environment, this is why I’m a big fan of traditional garments that have evolved with the people and the climate over long periods of time.”Though the weather change is quite different, he feels that the beliefs and traditions of Australians and Argentinians are quite similar.“Argentinians from my hometown are really laid back and friendly. They also love many similar things, like our favorite traditional foods, for example BBQ, are basically the same”.
It’s no surprise that Azar chose to create a sustainable fashion label. His father has always encouraged him to "question everything and make up your own mind about things. This mentality runs very strong in our family”. This outlook on life thrives within him everyday and he applies it in his design methods. “You must be equipped with imagination, perseverance, and a piercing attention to detail”. When creating a new garment Azar puts pen to paper “I do a lot of sketching on paper, then I make detailed digital drawings and samples. I reiterate this process until I'm totally satisfied”.
When discussing competitiveness in the fashion industry Azar says, “Competition is a mindset in which we choose to work against others or to somehow outdo the efforts of our peers”. Dismissing the idea that it’s a dog-eat-dog world, Azar believes “there is simply no need for this when the goal is to create. We must wholeheartedly strive to enrich the lives of others. Collaboration is a much more fun and effective way to work and achieve our goals”. Azar practices what he preaches, and collaborates with local fashion creatives in Australia, showcasing their work on The Great Beyond website via a photo series shot by him.
Azar has some interesting new sustainable fibers that he aims to create new designs with in future collections. “I would love to work with hemp fiber in the future, this is a wonderful crop with many incredible applications, every aspect of industry can be done better and more sustainably with hemp. Also, there is lotus silk and pineapple leather! Can you dig it?” When asked for a parting piece of advice for anyone in hot pursuit of their dream job Nick Azar feels that this mantra is key “You are one with the creative universe, you are the ONE!”.