Designer Nails a Fierce Look Out of a Folksy Concept

“I like antiques that were built to last,” says Kree Croga, who’s talking about keys, coffin nails, and other heavy metal, and definitely not china or furniture.
Portrait by Audrey Goforth

Kree Croga is an in-house designer for Royal Peasantry, a local
fashion house/retail shop selling upcycled apparel and accessories. He likes history and he’s all about handmade, but there’s no whimsy in what he’s doing: the look is mythological ritual adornment, curated with a steampunk edge. Using scavenged elements of metal, fabric, and leather, Croga creates wardrobe art and empowering statement pieces that have a medieval flair. 

How’d you get into handcrafting?

My dad is a master carpenter and my mom is a jeweler and seamstress. She apprenticed with my grandfather, who was a jeweler. I used to watch him work, and I have some tools of his that are 60 or 70 years old. I’m a jack of all trades when it comes to artistic mediums.

Dagger-like coffin nails make the boldest statement in
Croga’s line of neckwear for Royal Peasantry.

What informs your design aesthetic?

I’m a history buff, and I like things you can hold in your hand that have lots of history behind them. I try to build around actual old relics like pieces of old pocket watches, skeleton keys, barn nails, and big square nails they call coffin nails. I love antiques that were built to last and become heirlooms. They have an essence that takes me back to a simpler and more durable time, in a way that is comforting and humbling. When you wear pieces made from actual relics, you make a connection with history and feel grounded.

When did it become a profession?

When I was in culinary school. I was paying the bills on the side by doing costuming for parties and events, club culture, and medieval reenactments. About four years ago I took some of my pieces to Royal Peasantry, and the owner, Danielle Miller, loved them. It just snowballed from there, and now I’m designing and collaborating with her at Royal Peasantry about 40 or 50 hours a week.

Where do you find your materials?

I like to forage in historical areas and at old dump sites, like in the River Arts District. In that whole area, after a good rain, you can see all kinds of things. I’ll walk down by the river at low tide and find old bottles, coins, nails — whatever I can look at and see aesthetic symmetry. I have a little TV-dinner tray I lay them out on for a few days. As I look at them, ideas come to mind, and you see shapes in your head that you want to manifest. It’s about expanding your mind. 

You’re a beachcomber, but in the mountains.

It’s an adventure, and a bit of a love affair. The pieces each have their own story. Humans have their instinct that makes a connection to a different world, when they touch old items. I get lost in the work. It’s meditative for me, and almost spiritual.

Kree Croga’s line “Iron Circle Relics” can be found at Royal Peasantry (80 N. Lexington Ave. downtown Asheville). For more information, see royalpeasantry.com, Royal Peasantry Design House on ETSY, and Royal Peasantry Boutique on Instagram.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *