Colbo Chats w/ Small Talk Studio

Nick Williams + Phil Ayers of Small Talk Studio have made a name for themselves through their made-to-order, hand-drawn garments crafted here in NYC with fabrics sourced from Japan + India.

The pair recently brought Alex Brown + Michelle Dingsun into the fold to help them produce the brand’s first seasonal, ready-to-wear collections — all while continuing to regularly produce their much beloved custom orders.

We met up with the two founders [+ our friends] near both of our studios in midtown for an interview and accompanying shoot.

What music are you listening to when you’re drawing these days?

Phil: A solid rotation of NTS shows. I also recently brought a record player to the studio and we've been having a lot of fun building out our studio record collection. Personal favorites we have on vinyl are ‘Searching’ by Ronald Langestraat's Searching, ‘Tezeta’ by Hailu Mergia & The Walias Band, and my collection of Electric Light Orchestra's entire discography, which Nick can't stand.

Nick: Always on rotation to keep new music coming in are NTS breakfast show hosts Flo and Louise Chen. A few others we love are Ross Allen, Naomi Asa, Zack Fox, and Moxie.

We’ve been buying each other records as gifts (and sometimes brazen assertions of preference). The last few I’ve bought are the new Mount Kimbie album ‘The Sunset Violent,’ Milton Nacimiento’s ‘Milton,’ and a new album from Chanel Beads. Phil’s bought a bunch but my favorite recent ones are China Crisis ‘Difficult Shapes and Passive Rythms’ and Roxy Music ‘Flesh and Blood’

Oh! Also we bought a shared all time favorite from Colbo a month or so ago: Donnie and Joe Emerson ‘Still Dreamin Wild.’



What are some of the most common things you’re asked to draw? What are some of the more unexpected requests you’ve received?

N: Hmm let’s see… No shade to the boys out there, but we do get a lot of requests for vintage Porsches and bottles of liquor or aperol and sometimes like "a steak" so we try to spice up the "City Boy Moodboard" a little bit by doing some digging. But hey, if steak and booze and cars is your thing, we are not judging. I also love those things.

My favorite unexpected request was one customer who asked us to draw a large portrait of his parents on the back of a jacket. I did the portrait really large, like maybe two thirds of the back of the jacket, and I thought it was both very sweet and cool and also so funny.

P: Lots of negronis, cars, pet portraits, NYC ephemera, flowers, album artwork etc. Someone requested horse diving, which I guess was popular in the late 19th century and sent us down a wild internet hole.

Name three things that are as soft as the fabrics in your latest collection…

N: Not to brag but my uncle gave me a homegrown loofah from his garden in Knoxville, TN for Christmas, and I've been exfoliating all 2024 so far, so my skin. The light in our dear confidante Christian Michael Filardo's photography. [And] I think sometimes about the supple and gorgeous grand aioli that Maxime [Pradie] made for his birthday a couple years ago. It was aspirationally soft.

P: Butter, moss, and lamb's ear aka woolly hedge-nettle — the plant.

What’s your go-to Garment District coffee/lunch/post-work spot?

P: Big shout out to Lazarra's, an incredible pizza spot on our block here on W 38th street, also great for a Peroni. The bars aren't great but there's a fun one called Wakamba around the corner. Oh, also Dave & Buster's for coffee, lunch and/or post-work fun.

N: Love this question. First of all, unrelated to the garment district per se, but shout-out Benton NYC, and incredible bento delivery service that we order from every week. For actual garment district spots, we hit Culture Espresso on a regular basis, a real institution around here. For after work, Lazzara's, Cafe China on 37th, and Rudy's sports bar in Hell's Kitchen where you can get $3 house draft beers and free hot dogs.  
Who has better hair, Nick or Phil?

N: Phil quite obviously has better hair. He's a volume queen, and it's got that ever-present Rockaway ocean spray treatment.

P: I truly am a huge fan of Nick's hair but I'm gonna have to go with my own hair here.

Photo: Christian Filardo
Questions: Emilia Patrereca