Executive Producer and Fashion Designer, NiK Kacey
Preferred Pronouns: They
What does Pride mean to you?
To me, Pride means being unapologetically proud of who I am and who I strive to be as a human being. It means not being afraid to express myself and be visible in my authenticity. Pride can be loud and mean having a public voice, but it can also be private – in ways like how we express ourselves through fashion or how we do our hair. There is no one way to express Pride.
What’s the next big trend happening in design that you’d like to see?
I would love to see the evolution of gender neutral fashion to be more unique and creative because gender neutral doesn't need to be and shouldn't be boring. It doesn't need to only be in grayscale or sweatpants. We can be more creative and rethink what neutrality and equality means. For example, for me creating a gender neutral design means when you look at it, you cannot decipher whether it is meant to be worn by someone masculine or feminine. I believe products don't have genders and the wearer or user is the only person who needs to (if they desire) to decipher their own identity. What I really would love to see is gendered pricing, sizing and shapes to be re-invented or upgraded to be equal for all humans.
What is your motto (or words you live by)?
“I don't just dream. I do.” and “Take up space. Be visible. Speak your truth.”
Who are some of the designers you’d love to work with or learn from?
Growing up, I was a huge fan of Jean-Paul Gaultier because he was not afraid to break the rules and he was out and proud. As a masculine of center individual, I am a fan of John Varvatos' vision for my own wardrobe, and of course Calvin Klein was one of my first heroes for coming out with the first unisex fragrance before gender queerness was cool. It was one of my first colognes I ever wore for years! Finally, if I could work with anyone on shoes, it would be Christian Louboutin. I would love to work with the master and develop footwear together that is truly gender equal.
What drew you to designing shoes? And to LA?
I came to LA in 1993 for college; after graduation, I moved to Singapore, but realized my heart was in LA because I love who I am here. I left my career as a producer to design shoes because I was sick of not being able to find footwear that fit both my feet and my identity. But I couldn't in good conscience only develop shoes for my own personal satisfaction. Instead, I wanted to redefine footwear and make shoes that were stylish, comfortable, durable and timeless, while breaking the gender binary. My designs are based on a gender neutral mold, and the wearer can [wear them comfortably] no matter how they choose to identify.
Do you see the fashion industry becoming more open to creating options for the transgender community? If not, how can they get there?
Absolutely, and the sooner the better! The LGBTQ+ community has always been at the forefront of inciting change for society and cultural norms, and fashion is one of the biggest industries inspired by the queer and trans community. As queers who are historically under-represented, we are often forced to have to come up with our own solutions in order to live an authentic life. We will always continue to be resilient and innovative that way. However, I believe as the world is become more queer friendly and inclusive, and as our younger generations' gender identities continue to expand and become more inclusive, we will hopefully become a society that is mindful of all identities and gender spectrums.