New York City man-about-town Waris Ahluwalia explores world travel and simple elegance in a new collaboration with The Kooples for Spring/Summer 2017. A fond memory of an Indian desert informs the earth tonalities in each piece’s design aesthetic, while general Asian themes result from founders and brothers Alexandre, Laurent, and Raphael Elicha’s most recent visit to Japan. Here, Document speaks about the collection with the creative influencer himself.
Derrick Gaitér—What comes to mind when you think of global fashion?
Waris Ahluwalia—Because of the way the media works, trends are spreading in ways that they never have before. A look that started somewhere deep in Brooklyn can, in three days, be then seen in Libya, Lebanon, or China. That was never possible before. The length of time an idea would travel to another country in the past! Someone would have to travel to that country and then someone else would have to see it, and want it. We’re getting to a place now that fashion is no longer regional.
Derrick—The Kooples men’s collection this spring was seen through your eyes. What was the statement you were trying to make?
Waris—I wanted to be completely respectful in the collaboration. It was not about putting my ideas onto theirs, but questoning what The Kooples brand really stood for and what it meant to me. There is always a feeling of rock ‘n’ roll. It’s not just the music, but the way of life, and that transcends any region. People that live by their own rules. There is a sense of freedom, and that continues on. We were able to create a collection that stayed true to their DNA while still reflecting the global fashion movement.
Derrick—Looking back on its inception, was there a moment that you remember distinctively?
Waris—[The brothers] had just come back from Japan, and we were all talking about the materials, textures, and colors they saw. We were speaking on shared experiences—I had just returned from India. It wasn’t about picking a place on a map and referencing that, but, really, places that we’ve all traveled to and continuously find inspiration from.
Derrick—A muse, an actor, and a designer; you’re at the intersection of many flowing ideas. How did these attributes inform your approach toward this collaboration?
Waris—This was my first venture into a menswear collection, and I found it interesting that instead of only looking at me as a muse, The Kooples actively and actually engaged me in conversation and collaboration. That doesn’t happen very often: The muse doesn’t get to be a part of the design process, and sometimes you don’t want them to be! [Laughing.] Someone once said that to me. It led to great conversations and ideas being shared: whether it’s a pair of pants or fabric or texture—we’re all just shared ideas.