Sipping from a bottle of bright blue Gatorade and occasionally popping a gummy snack into his mouth, KidSuper’s Colm Dillane ponders what he should call his new Brooklyn space. It’s 11 A.M. when he joins our virtual meeting room, and he has only ten minutes left to decide; he’s contending with options that include “the KidSuper Lair” and “KidSuper Headquarters.” Dillane and I, though, aren’t here to chat about that—we’re here to talk about KidSuper’s new collaboration with Canada Goose and the NBA. So Dillane, with less than ten minutes on the clock and a major decision impending, does what he does best: He seamlessly switches gears, redirecting his focus from one project to the next.
KidSuper’s collaboration with Canada Goose—a four-product capsule that’s part of the outerwear brand’s ongoing partnership with the NBA, newly faced by brand ambassador Shai Gilgeous-Alexander—first debuted on the runway at Paris Fashion Week, a bright pop of sporty streetwear in the midst of high-fashion tailoring and old-school suiting.
“All of these collaborations are quite meaningful, because there was a time in KidSuper history where nobody was collaborating with me,” says Dillane, who, in the past year and a half, has dropped collabs with brands ranging from Louis Vuitton and Suicoke to The Rolling Stones and Barnsley F.C.
“Other brands aren’t as hands on, I would say, in their collaborations,” he says. “I think when KidSuper drops stuff, it feels very special, but it is not easy to do. It’s not easy to make these special moments all the time.”
For the collection, Dillane created three paintings that turned into two motif graphics: a purplish, abstract vision of a crowd cheering at an NBA game; and an icy, blurry landscape that evokes the feeling of skiing down a mountain. The four pieces of the collection—a puffer jacket, beanie, reversible fleece jacket, and reversible vest—are offbeat and colorful, imbued with the innate playfulness that seemingly comes with all of KidSuper’s designs.
“I think my default setting is a childlike sense of everything,” he says. “The basis of KidSuper is this cool little dichotomy of playful silliness and a high-art execution of stuff. The reason I started putting paintings on clothing so much was a little bit to prove to everyone that I was skilled or I was talented, because I didn’t go to fashion school, I didn’t have any ins. I didn’t come from a fashion company, I didn’t have a job, all that stuff. So I was like, how do I showcase what I can bring? And it ended up working, in a way.”
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
How did this partnership with Canada Goose come about?
We’ve collaborated with a lot of people, but I think it’s always cool when you can collaborate with a brand that has resources that you don’t have. So Canada Goose, with them being this outdoorsy, winter company, I thought this would be something super cool to collaborate on to see if we can use their resources to make some product that we couldn’t make on our own.
How did you approach designing this capsule, with elements of sportswear, streetwear, and winter gear?
I think that’s kind of where we live as KidSuper. We’re always trying to have that sweet spot of, “Is it unique enough that it stands out? Is it wearable? Does it work with the brand?” It came out better than I thought, to be honest. I wasn’t worried, but I thought maybe the all-over print might come off cheap looking, and it actually did the opposite and looks really good. And then we obviously had it on the runway [at Paris Fashion Week]. Sometimes when you’re doing these collaborations, they want to be on the runway, but it doesn’t work because the runway is quite elevated and the collabs aren’t. But this looked amazing on the runway and really worked, and we had a great balance of really high-end stuff, like suiting, and then this was a little bit of the streetwear side.
What was the process of designing the two prints that you used for the capsule?
This is an NBA collab, which is kind of left field and funny, because you’re like, “Why are we making puffer jackets with KidSuper for the NBA?” But I think when you’re doing these collaborations, you’re trying to get inspiration from anything. And the maroon print [“Purple Crowd”] is actually a print of the crowd that would be watching an NBA game.
Then the other painting [“Landscape”] was kind of like a mountain that you’d be climbing or skiing down. So you had both the wilderness aspect and the NBA aspect, which was cool. And then there’s the moss fabric, which I think was also awesome. It’s like different layers of moss, and that looks pretty cool and was hard for them to make because we had to make a custom fabric for that.
Part of this campaign features you and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hiking up a mountain together. What was filming that like?
It was very funny. They were like, “Who do you want in it? We can do Shai and your friends.” And I was like, “Perfect!” So it’s pretty funny to have the number one young basketball player right now, and then just me and my friends. That was pretty hilarious. But he’s cool and a fashion icon, and also really good at basketball, which is always important, because sometimes the most stylish guys aren’t the best and he’s actually the best.
Not to imply that you and your friends aren’t good athletes, but Shai is a professional, and he’s 6’6”. How did you keep up?
[laughs] I think there was more CGI than you think. I’m not going to ruin it for you, but I don’t think he did too much hiking.
Okay, got it. Movie magic. KidSuper, as a brand, has stepped into so many different spaces and designed in collaboration with such a range of brands. How do you choose your projects? What keeps you inspired?
How I choose them is by seeing if they can open up doors that were previously closed to us. I use these collaborations as jumping boards onto whatever I can do next or as access to different people.
In terms of being creative and keeping creativity, I think all of the collaborations always have a new perspective or a new ask. That is in itself inspiring. All of these collaborations are quite meaningful, because there was a time in KidSuper history where nobody was collaborating with me. So these mean so much, and now I’m doing a lot. A lot of this stuff that has succeeded with KidSuper is because I’ve given my life to the projects. Other brands aren’t as hands on, I would say, in their collaborations. I mean, we just did three original paintings just for this collaboration. And that’s more than a lot of people do. I think when KidSuper drops stuff, it feels very special, but it is not easy to do. It’s not easy to make these special moments all the time.
When you come up with a concept for a painting, how long does it take to actually execute it?
Sometimes I do a painting and it’s super quick and it’s perfect, and it’s like, “I’m a genius.” And sometimes I do a painting, and it’s like, “This sucks, I’m the worst, this is not working.” So sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But painting is not a great thing to get known for because it’s so fucking hard. Brands are like, “Hey, we’re doing this collab. Could you do, like, three original paintings?” And you’re like, “God, come on.”
What’s your personal favorite way to style these pieces?
On a Paris Fashion Week runway.
Great answer. Last question for you: If you could only wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Sweatpants. And a hoodie. I mean, if it’s one thing, that’s a bad answer, right? Boring answer. Well, if I could, it would be a Speedo. And that just means you’re on the beach for the rest of your life, which is kind of good. So, Speedo is a better answer.
Only if you can be on the beach.
Well, a Speedo when you’re not on the beach would suck.
Not ideal for hiking up a mountain with Shai.
Exactly. So that’s why sweatpants are probably the best. You need something that’s all-terrain.