Founded by design duo Key Chow and Jarno Lepannen, the London-based gender-fluid label KA WA KEY has become synonymous with intriguing use of visuals taken from film and art; for AW20 we saw hand-drawn paisleys and prints in a vibrant crayon-bright palette of primary hues, as well as neons in soft textural knits and oversized striped slouchy sweaters.
Inspired by ‘Le Petit Prince’, the brand’s AW20 show for NYFW ‘The Twink Prince’ incorporates playful elements from the iconic story. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s star motifs made an appearance in chunky knits paired with ankle-grazing scarves; suiting was oversized, with pleated trousers and bold shoulders in cheeky pinstripes daubed with painterly spots.
KA WA KEY holds sustainability and ethics in high regard, in every aspect from textile sourcing to production. Knitwear for AW20 was fashioned from yarns in recycled polyester from PET bottles, as well as plant-based eco furs and scarves in ethically sourced soft mohair. Chow and Lepannen played with fabrications and layered silhouettes in a strong palette of blues and reds, golden yellows, and soft neons.
Saint-Exupéry’s dreamy vision was captured in its essence, with hand-drawn illustrative prints and tactile textures in heavy knits. The timeless tale of life and human nature is translated through the medium of fashion into a whimsical collection of bold hues and scribbled childlike prints that celebrate soft masculinity and twink dom within the realms of everyday casual and streetwear.
For a little, post Fashion Month perspective, we did a “TPM Top 10” Q&A with KA WA KEY’s designers, KEY CHOW and JARNO LEPPANEN…
- Where do you draw your inspiration from? Everyday life and situation, friends, family and people in general. We love narratives that inspire us, our every collection has a further story behind it.
- How do you put into practice your brand’s ethical and sustainability ethos? We source and mainly use ethical and sustainable and recycled materials. We use certified factories.
- What is your favorite material to work with? It’s hard to say anything about specific material, but we love to work with textures.
- Have you always wanted to work in fashion? Not really. Key wanted to be a baker, to make cakes. Jarno wanted to be a witch and later on a vet.
- What changes would you like to see in the fashion industry to make for a more sustainable and ethical future? The whole process, from materials to manufacturing but beyond these, consuming habits, how we buy and what we buy.
- You’ve been in the industry for years now. What would you say are the most important things you’ve learned as a designer and as a brand? This might sound cheesy, but to be true to yourself.
- What is the importance of fashion in society to you? It’s very important, its a form of art and self-expressing and for its also a business, an important part of our livelihood.
- How do you think we can make sustainable fashion more accessible to everyone? Just making it happen, together! The most important thing is to make people realize how important their individual choices are, they do make a difference.
- Would you consider wearability as a positive or a negative? Positive, the main purpose of garments is them to be worn, of course, wearability is not always the most important thing, it really depends on the situation.
- What’s next for your brand? Designing our new collection and collaborations, hopefully, work together with talented creatives to make a difference. Tackle the challenges life throws at you.
Interview for Trend Prive Magazine by Lucie Dhog
Brand: KA WA KEY
Designers: KEY CHOW and JARNO LEPPANEN