Photography by Irina Luca
Fashion shows have made a giant evolutionary leap within the last few years. From the famed runway shows of Alexander McQueen era to Nada Shepherd’s ‘fembot’ 3D fashion film, we’ve come a long way. So it was surprising to be surprised by Krane’s fall/winter 2011 fashion show.
“I felt that the audience might lose interest if it was just guys walking constantly,” said Krane designer Ken Chow. “So I wanted to incorporate different elements outside of the box of the standard runway presentations.”
And that he did. The Krane fall/winter 2011 menswear fashion show challenged the assumptions of the fashion flock. The all-black Heritage Court studio room was given an industrial dungeon feel with coats and handbags suspended from the ceiling by metal wires.
Models added olive duffle jackets (including the signature Mathias Mod jacket), shearling bombers, and leather strap-adorned satchels and ‘manbags’ to their looks as they entered the runway room. Midway through the presentation two T-shirted men performed a parkour presentation and flipped and jumped throughout the space.
Chow knows what works and he stuck to that. The military theme that his collection has become known for returned this season but was given a utilitarian bondage feel with the addition of leather straps that turned up on bags, as leather suspenders with covered studs across the torsos of shirtless models and on a leather neck tie with a zippered edge. A lone female model donning menswear demonstrated the versatility of the collection.
We caught up with Ken Chow backstage after the Krane show to talk shop.
Q&A WITH KEN CHOW OF KRANE
FILLER Magazine (FM): What was the mood you were trying to evoke with this collection and the presentation of it?
Because the brand started with bags it was difficult to make a specific statement about the collection. Now that the brand has evolved into the coats and the shirting I was able to come to a better balance of what I was trying to portray for men in the market.
FM: But you had a female model on the runway. Was that a kind of androgynous, unisex look that you were going for?
At the end of the day it is a business and the brand needs new blood into it every season and because women were beginning to get into the brand and were purchasing coats for themselves I felt it was fitting to put a girl in a men’s coat and actually pull it off, just to bring women into the brand.
FM: Are there any plans to expand into womenswear in the near future?
Not in the near future but I’m definitely not going to say no to doing womenswear. I have made the mistake in the past of growing too fast and branching of into too many categories. This season I took a step back and focused on the things that are working for the brand. I want to grow at a slow and steady pace now, at a pace that I can handle, a pace where the company can grow, where at the same time I am able to grow with it instead of drowning in the big sea.
FM: Your runway show was very different than the traditional runway show. Why did you decide to go in that direction?
Menswear is seen as a very conservative playing field and my silhouettes are very standard—you see a pea coat, you see a duffle coat, you see a bomber—and I wanted to add more interest to that. I felt that the audience might lose interest if it was just guys walking constantly so I wanted to incorporate different elements outside of the box of the standard runway presentations.
The reason behind the parkour was because street culture is very important to me and I wanted to infuse culture into the brand. And the reasoning behind the presentation where the guys are putting their coats on was that art is very important to me as well, like industrial design. We wanted to present a visually stimulating aesthetic right when the audience steps into the space and then once the coats are all suspended on those metal wires it’s really beautiful but it’s also really beautiful when it’s off because that’s just the raw installation.
FM: What was your inspiration for this season?
I don’t have an inspiration for every season. The brand started with a foundation, it started with a military aesthetic as a collection and that’s because of my background. As a kid I entered a lot of poster design contests for Remembrance Day so my visual vocabulary has a lot of military images in my head so I brought that into the fashion context and its just being evolving from there. It’s a progressive label. I’m not reinventing the wheel every season; I’m just building on things that work for the brand.
FM: What was your favourite piece from this collection?
There was a piece from Fall 2010 that was carried over into this season that is my favourite and will continue to be my favourite just because of the versatility of it. It’s the Mathias Mod coat, the longer coat with the fishtails and the shawl collar hood. It’s just because it’s such a versatile piece. You can wear that uptown. You can wear that downtown. You can dress it up; you can wear it on your Sundays where you’re just bumming around. It’s just a good piece and my customers send me fan mail just because of it.
FM: If you weren’t living and working in Toronto where would you like to be?
Definitely New York because I spent a good chunk of time there. I think I spent my most impressionable times there when I was finding myself and building a life for myself but I wasn’t at the stage in my life to be making it there so I’d like to re-explore that in the near future.