Fashion is changing fast and radically, not only in terms of designs and trends, but mostly in terms of values and ambitions, so much so, that even the most compelling contemporary trends seem the direct effect of this ontological change. Ka Wa Key is a young yet ripe brand, with clear ideas and strong values, the ones that Millennials and Z-gen ask brands to address; the ones that are changing the face of fashion for the better. This brand is a good example of “G-local”: it has a strong local identity, and yet it aims globally, free as it is from any hint of folklore. Ka Wa Key champions sustainability and believes in a fairer world for people of every gender, and sexual orientation, and this not only during the pride month -when marketing dictates- but constantly and in every stage of the garments production and communication. Their garments are not only “advertised” as fluid and fairly sustainable, they are also conceived and created to be so. In a world of disarray and instability, brands with such noble aims and values, provide hope for the future and inject energy into the present.
Can you trace a map of your brand, geographically
speaking? The reason why I am starting with geography is because I have got the feeling that it is extremely consistent with your idea of style, you are all about the present and the future (gender fluidity, sustainability) but also you stay true to your traditional (North European and Asian) idea of dress and fashion, would you say this is correct?
Yes, we try to stay true to “our” geography, but then again as world is very global, and we have the luxury to travel and explore, we feel that “our” is expanding and changing. It’s like an organism which keeps on evolving. But our basic geogra phy will probably always exists. One of us has mother roots is Finland, in the wonderful and magical north, and other one is from exotic and vibrant Hong Kong.
Is true sustainability possible? and if so, could you give me some concrete ideas about how it can be achieved?
True sustainability, What is that exactly? But the truth is that fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world, and something must be done. Nothing happens in the snap of the fingers. The best sustainable way to “produce” fashion is not to produce it at all, maybe, but reuse and re wear all existing materials so that the reprocessing doesn’t cause much harm to the mother nature can also be a solution, not to mention the use of high quality materials which good last longer.
Now let me play the devil’s advocate, my feeling is that the closer to sustainability a brand is, the more elitist and narrow its target, and this mostly for a very simple reason, truly sustainable clothes are more expensive than mass market, do you think there is any hope for bigger brands? is there any way to solve this consumer’s dilemma?
The sad truth is that “sustainable” materials are more expensive. But then again up- cycling would be something where already existing material are reused, designed and formed. Waste fabric and yarns can be used in designs and design processes.
In ideal world we would love to produce everything like this, not quite yet, but we are taking steps towards it. There is Massive difference between fast fashion and independent small fashion brands. We value traditional hand crafting skills and artisanal approach towards fashion. And our target customers are willing to pay for the uniqueness of our designs.
What are our clients buying, then? our aesthetics, of course, but with it, our ethical production and recycled materials, like recycled polyester and wool, and the latest sustainable materials including Tencel, Ecovero Viscose etc.
Who would you say are the Masters who guide your art and your imaginary?
We both have our own masters. Issey Miyake’s innovative and experimental textile crafts and his trueness towards his design philosophy and aesthetics, he challenged what fashion is. Daring and theatrical designs of Alexander McQueen and the way he showed that fashion can be more than just fashion, personal artistic adventure portrayed through amazing theatrical and innovative shows. McQueen showed that fashion and shows are more than just fashion. These are two of our masters, there are so many more. Outside fashion, for instance, we’d like to mention Matthew Bourne and the way how he “re-invented” ballet and dance shows. He has the ability to re-tell old well-known stories, make them something new and interesting, something beyond dance.
How do your collections come about? where do your ideas come usually from?
Our collections are the product of of stories. We could probably write a novella out of each of our collections. We have a story and we build our collection around it OR we start from a fabric or a texture or a stich we really love and we build a story around it. Live and world is all about stories, live life and even beyond.
Can you tell me about the relationship between the body and clothes in your collections? In fact you seem to pair traditional and wearable pieces with either oversized garments or shapes that don’t follow the traditional line of the human body…
Human body is something we get inspired by a lot. It is very beautiful but so mysterious as everybody’s body is so different but in a way so same and similar. We also have lots of movement in our presentations. We believe that clothes are meant to be united with the body, meant to be in movement and that’s when clothes look the best. What is traditional? We like to think, of course, respecting traditional, but at the same time thinking outside of the traditional. Norms are meant to explored and bent.