Meet the Cool Kids of NYFW, KAIMIN.


This past New York Fashion Week, Kaimin presented a futuristic, haunting bedtime story of a fashion show at Studio 525. Read our interview with the designers.


ANTHONY: Explain Kaimin SS20 in a few words.

KAIMIN: This season, KAIMIN has launched a brand-new ready-to-wear denim line, called SLFF KAIMIN, which is meant to bring my vision as well as the culture of my creative community to a wider audience, and to further proliferate the message of self-awareness, self-confidence, and self-expression. 

SLFF KAIMIN denim was presented on the same runway with the main collection under the overall creative and styling direction of Ron Hartleben, supported by CR Studio, with makeup directed by Kabuki and hair directed by Franco Gobbi. 

A: What was your inspiration behind the collection?

KAIMIN: The overall creative direction was influenced by the subconscious theories of Sigmund Freud and films like Annihilation, aiming to expose inner fears to release suppressed identity and desires – literal empowerment through self-discovery.

The collection explores two distinct notions for evolution of human form – through technology and through biological mutation. From the outside, the driver is mechanical – artificial furthering of self via machine. From the inside, the driver is bio-spiritual – the natural furthering of self via selective mutation of flesh and mind – a physical metamorphosis through the unrestrained self.

This season’s motto is:

“Introspective Prism – Refract all versions of self, Mutate desire and identity, Evolve spirit and form”


A: You had many surreal elements, including mirrored acrylic decals that created the illusion of a futuristic doorway. What inspired the setup?

KAIMIN: This season the collection was quite bright and colorful so we wanted to highlight that visually with a darker set design for added contrast. With the clothes exuding a futuristic mutation theme, it just felt right to have a dark and futuristic underground party vibe, with red backlighting and a minimal, heavy electronic soundtrack.

The New York underground scene has this alluring aura of the forbidden, with sexier and darker undertones and the sense of a risque adventure that is addicting. It’s edgy, extremely diverse, and creative and demonstrates some of the greatest social acceptance anywhere in the world, which really allows me to meld it with high fashion in a fun way. 

A: What role do space and venue have for a fashion show?

K: The environment in which the clothes are presented is, of course, extremely important and integral to the overall feel of the collection. The setting completes the package and can either be a neutral space that doesn’t interfere or something that adds it’s own special character to create a completely different experience. 

Studio 525 brings character with abundance, as it is a gorgeous space with a masterfully-preserved original steel beam ceiling, a sprawling skylight, and a very good, interesting layout. 

“Front-of-house” aside, it’s always important to have good space for backstage, and a lot of it. For our shows, we typically have 80+ people in the “back-of-house” and we managed things very well this time with dedicated areas for hair and makeup, dressing, and the runway lineup.   

A: When many designers are showing at ‘hubs’ like Spring Studios, what motivated your decision to decamp and show at a unique space?

The KAIMIN label is not just about clothes, we always try to emphasize every part of the artistic universe that we build together with our creative partners. The runway show format is one of the best, most interactive and enveloping ways to showcase this universe, so we really focus on signature creativity in styling, makeup, hair, nails, music design, etc. – all these elements are important in portraying the KAIMIN DNA, and the setting is no exception. 

We certainly do present in more conventional runway show spaces but this time we felt the venue needed to have a special feel to bring all the other elements together and we just love Studio 525’s personality. The space has been able to retain a piece of old New York's character in the center of a much changed city, in contrast to the ever-sterilizing effects of the pervasive commercialism socially and the all-conquering coldness of glass and steel architecturally – it’s one of those last bastions of NY's old-school engineering and creativity that can now be found almost exclusively in places like Bushwick.

A: What’s next for Kaimin?

KAIMIN: KAIMIN’s mission is to keep innovating ourselves and keep collaborating with people that push the boundaries across the various artistic disciplines and product segments. We want to be more cross-functional and would love to do more than just fashion, even if it’s in a more non-permanent format like seasonal collaborations. I just wish to meet and inspire more people and to learn from them so we can all come up with a never-before-seen symbiosis of unlikely fields that not only is cool but also could change lives for the better and bring signature KAIMIN flavor to people in more than one way.

With that said, I hope to continue building our artistic community and form a creative confluence platform – a culture nebula for local and global artists – to support innovation. To that end, we wish to grow the endowment fund that we established via our Zero Zero Project initiative, which periodically disperses funds to help finance targeted projects. 

Anthony EspinoComment