Colm Dillane may have lost the men’s designer job at Louis Vuitton to Pharrell Williams, but that isn’t stopping the KidSuper founder and designer from continuing to expand his reach.
On Wednesday, he released two new collaborations. One is with Stuart Weitzman where he worked with the brand’s head of design, Edmundo Castillo, on a limited-edition capsule collection for spring that features scenes from two pieces of his art applied to sandals, booties, loafers, pumps and scarves. The collection was introduced with a short film he created starring “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” star Mariska Hargitay called “The Shoe-In,” where she leads a group of New Yorkers from preventing a piece of the artwork from falling into the wrong hands.
At the same time, Dillane revealed his latest partnership with Superplastic, a leader in the luxury art toy world. He created two limited-edition versions of the brand’s figures, appropriately named KidSuperplastic, that are designed to reference Dillane’s childhood days running around in a cape pretending he had superpowers. Last year, Dillane worked with the company on an NFT project.
“I’ve always had a ton of respect for Colm’s magic bag of endless creativity,” said Galen McKamy, chief creative officer of Superplastic. “Our brands have similar vibes regarding aesthetics and high-quality limited goods, and we both draw inspiration from art and comedy. We set out to create something entertaining and kind of funny.”
A matte magenta and blue vinyl version with an electroplated gold belt buckle and removable paintbrush is limited to 1,666 pieces and will retail for $130. A desert version is limited to 500 pieces and will sell for $150 exclusively at the Superplastic flagship in SoHo. To help promote the partnership, a free digital comic, “The Amazing KidSuperplastic,” designed by the company, will go live on the Superplastic website on Wednesday.
In an interview to preview the figures, Dillane was still basking in the glow of being asked to be a guest designer for Vuitton’s fall menswear runway show and holding his own comedy/fashion show in Paris. But because he’s still under contract with the French company, he declined to comment on Williams’ appointment.
Dillane said that as his reputation grows, he’s finding that a lot of people who never paid him any attention are now clamoring to get seats at his shows. “There were all these bloggers who weren’t invited or didn’t get in that had never supported me until now,” he said. “Five years ago, I had an open house for anyone to come, and 100 people showed up. Where were they then?”
Dillane acknowledged that his unique take on fashion may not be popular with everyone, but his recent success comes as a result of years of hard work. “If you don’t know the KidSuper story, you might be like, ‘Where do you come from? You don’t deserve this.’ Maybe the clothing is too loud or not for everyone, which I’m totally fine with, but you can’t [argue with] how I got here.”
Dillane started making and selling T-shirts in high school and launched his first collection under the KidSuper name in 2011. He was a joint winner of LVMH’s Karl Lagerfeld Special Jury Prize in 2021 and under the tutelage of former Vuitton chief executive officer Michael Burke, was tapped to co-design the company’s men’s collection for fall.
“I wasn’t expecting the call at all,” he said. “I didn’t think they would be as open-minded and as risk-taking because I wouldn’t say I fit the quintessential box of fashion designer for a luxury brand. But if you look at LV’s history, Marc Jacobs was a huge risk. He had just been fired from Perry Ellis for being too grunge. Virgil [Abloh] was a huge risk, because no one initially treated him as a high-end designer. It was all hype. So I think LV deserves some credit for having the foresight in many different scenarios. I think when you’re such a powerful and big company, you can take risks, because you have such a machine behind you.”
That machine had already been set in motion when he was asked to come aboard, he said. “They had already started the collection, so I was there to add in. I think if you look at the collection, you can see which ones are mine. They had such good tailoring and simple pieces so the ones I added told a little bit more of a story.”
Up until the announcement of Williams as the new creative director, a choice believed to have been made by Vuitton’s new CEO Pietro Beccari, Dillane said he had no idea if he was going to get the job. “They kept me in the dark and I’m totally OK with being in the dark,” he said. “I can’t believe they even let me out of the basement.”
And even if he won’t be toiling for Vuitton, he’s still got plenty to keep him busy. His 10,000-square-foot studio in Williamsburg — which will also serve as a gallery, recording studio, retail store and soccer field — is coming along. “It’s not finalized, but the walls are up,” he said. “So the recording studios, the gallery, the store, the workspace, the photo studio, the podcast room — all of these different things are segmented. Now we have to build out each room. The permitting and making it fire-rated was the worst thing ever, but we’ve passed all those. So it’s about just interior decorating each spot.”
While the work progresses in Brooklyn, Dillane continues to hone his design skills and work with collaborators. The Superplastic project, he said, came after the two companies “flirted” for a couple of years. When designing the figures, he said it was important that they be able to hold a paintbrush or marker “so it would inspire drawing. When I grew up, I didn’t have many toys. We moved around a lot and I have no siblings so my toys were art projects and painting. But it was good because it made me really imaginative.”
One thing he didn’t want the Superplastic collaboration to include, however, was clothing. “I think sometimes when you do brand collaborations and they force clothing on you, it seems like an afterthought, to make money or whatever. But I thought it was cool to put an emphasis on the toys.”
So what’s next for Dillane? He admits that he never expected to get where he is now and is just taking the future as it comes. “I always said the most exciting thing about KidSuper is the people I get to meet and the opportunities I get access to.” When his Brooklyn building is completed, he expects to get more into multimedia projects, such as television shows or movies.
And he’s not afraid to try anything and everything, whether that’s doing auctions or comedy shows during his fashion presentations or creating art toys. “I’ve worked really, really hard and failed many, many times,” he said. But he’s eager to continue pushing the limits, whether that’s collaborating with someone as high-profile as Tommy Hilfiger, or just providing other young people with a place to hone their skills.
“Back in the day, there were places where you met people, found your crowd, collaborated and learned. Now those places are all just trying to sell product,” he said. “So I hope this space in Brooklyn becomes kind of a safe haven for creatives.”