10 years of christopher kane
He’s Kane and he’s able. A decade in, we speak to the Scottish designer about his ever evolving work and the curiosity that keeps driving him on.
In the ten years since his bright and tight debut first left its mark on the fashion industry, Christopher Kane remains, above all else, an innovator. With a little help from his best friend/business partner/real life actual sister Tammy, the Lanarkshire-born designer has gone from CSM graduate to global powerhouse. He's got a successful London boutique and online store, landed a BFA Designer of the Year award in 2013 and an acquisition by the luxury goods group Kering the same year. Oh, and did we mention he's still only 33?
He's a savvy and canny businessman, sure, but he's also the same person we first interviewed for our Wild Women Do Issue back in 2007: always personal, always putting himself in his work (something that was no more apparent than in his brilliant and self-referential London show last month).
Ten years in, what is it that keeps this most precocious of British talents going? "Curiosity," he tells i-D. "Always wanting to challenge myself and continue learning." We told you back then: Anna Wintour loves him, Naomi wears him, and Donatella sees him as a kindred spirit. After a decade, the rebellious and playful Kane continues to prove he's able. Here's to the next ten!
What are your overriding memories when you think back to 2006?
Life was a bit easier. There weren't as many collections to do, and now there is such a demand for newness. But I've always had a really strong work ethic and wanted to to push myself.
How would you say your work has evolved over the years?
As you get older, you change and therefore your outlook and way of thinking changes. I suppose I'm more grown up. I still love what I do and will always put the work first.
What would you say has been the greatest challenge you've faced since you started? How did you overcome it?
Both one of the biggest challenges and proudest moments was putting on a show following the passing of my mom. It was really tough, but I was able to find an inner strength to carry on, which is what she would have wanted.
Do you think the pressures are greater on designers today, or just different?
There are so many new outlets and ways to communicate nowadays and, yes, there is so much more demand and pressure, but I've always put the work first and this will always remain the most important thing.
What effect do you think digital and social media has had on the fashion industry, and do you think this is a good thing?
I miss the element of mystery which used to play such a big part with designers. But at the same time it also offers such an amazing way to communicate with a global audience.
Of course, this is Tammy's anniversary, too. In what way has your relationship changed over the years?
It's still just as fun working together and we're closer than ever. I am so lucky to have that bond as both a business partner and best friend.
How has the brand developed since the Kering acquisition? How did it feel to get that kind of endorsement?
Kering has enabled the brand to accelerate its expansion by providing the support we need to grow to the next level. It's great to have the support of the group; they understand what it takes to build a brand, having done with several young brands, and the challenges it brings.
Continue to develop the business and our different categories, expand into new markets, and grow our e-commerce platform. I will always challenge myself and continue to push boundaries.
Is there any advice you could give new designers starting out?
Work, work, work. Do things at your own pace and follow your gut. Don't think you have to do it all right off the bat. It takes time and that's okay too.
Text Matthew Whitehouse
Photography Emma Summerton Fashion Director Edward Enninful
Hair Ben Skervin at Blunt using Bumble and Bumble
Make-up Mathias van Hooff at MFA using MAC Cosmetics
Set design Gillian O'Brien at Blunt
Photographic assistance Marese McGrane and Nick Kelly
Styling assistance Caroline Newell, Alistair McCallum and Santi Rodriguez
Set design assistance Katherine Mantle
Production Sarah Clements MFA Production
Model: Lily Donaldson at Select London
Special thanks to Michelle Anderson at Select London and Jennifer Ramey at IMG NY
[The Wild Women Do Issue, No. 274, March 2007]