The Agender Agenda: Kaimin
Part one of a series
Tearing down tired taboos and referencing nostalgic throwbacks to the naughties, neutrois, street style, moody fashion and murky aesthetic undercurrents, creatives like Kaimin, Christopher Shannon, Stéphane Ashpool, Shayne Oliver, Marcelo Burlon and boychild are setting the tone for unflinching individualism and a brazen disregard for gender expectations. This alpha crop of originators, amongst others, are rattling up the fashion world with their take on gender fluidity, andro-glam, the street, epicene beauty, and invigorating, liberating aesthetics—just think of Shayne Oliver’s indelible id explorations, or Rick Owens’ provocative pecker flaps, or boychild’s glitched-out, autoerotic ka-pows. These avant-guardians are embracing the art world’s post-modern, post-gender transgressive sensibility. Call it the new ‘Agender Agenda’—that is, fashion that celebrates crossover culture, sexual iconoclasm, radical openness and transpersonal progress. That means macho suits and machine gun boots for chicks, skirts, shift shirts, and plexiglass collars for dudes, and ontological-esthetic upheavals across-the-board—what the futurist Ray Kurzweil calls “a phase change in the consciousness of man.” It’s a cultural stirring that at once tethers and liberates gender identity and reveals the ambivalence and elasticity of social archetypes. It’s no wonder that trans trailblazers like Andreja Pejić, Hari Nef, Laverne Cox, and Caitlyn Jenner are fashion’s shit-hot avatars, ripping up the web, burning up pop-culture and breaking down gender binaries; and auteurs like Wu Tsang, Dia Dear and Junglepussy provide killer, campy cosmographies and trans-femme perspectives that enlighten and inform us all. Phhhhewww, post-modernism never felt so good—and the clothes look pretty fuckin’ cool, too! Here are a few of our fave disruptors and déconstructors, with quick-fire Q&A’s to follow. KA-BOOM!
Kaimin is the cult clothier fusing Freudian theory with outré wearables and off-piste performances
One part couturier, one part mad scientist, Kaimin’s high-nrg, high-entropy collections bridge the gap between conceptual art and fashion, fearlessly fusing cutting-edge abstractions with age-old artisanship. Hailing from Seoul, South Korea and now firmly embedded in NYC, the much-fêted former apprentice and protégé of the late creative kamikaze/shock-auteur Nam Jun Paik (백남준) is a perpetual presence and firebrand femme fatale. Popularizing underground genres and pioneering insane aesthetics, she is one of fashion’s most titillating and transgressive couturiers. Her clothing combines intellectual rigor, romantic élan and awe-inspiring andro-glam; in her hands, stark and tech-savvy modernism segues with references to BDSM, goth, grunge, fetishism, and experimental everything. She often fuses fashion with performance art to challenge certain sartorial and institutional assumptions with a peculiar taste for paradox and shock, breaking some of society’s most solid taboos (mostly around identity, gender and sexual mores) while originating her own form of creative contingency. Pushing maximalist motifs and a radical orientation towards gender neutrality and avant-gardism, Kaimin’s art, fashion and all-round freakishness engenders an indeterminacy that is a wicked-cool wallop—artistic and anthropological all at once—BANG!
What is your take on the relationship between fashion and gender?
I have an ideologically neutral bias when it comes to clothing and gender. The erosion on the runways and in the atelier of a once rigid demarcation between orthodox femininity/masculinity is a welcome advancement. I’m trying to push the envelope on that, because fashion/art shouldn’t be categorized exclusively by fixed gender modes.
What are some of your inspirations and favorite themes?
I’m enamored of new ways to apply technology to fashion. I’m also inspired by ‘chaos and randomness’ and the way that order can spontaneously emerge from flux and uncertainty. Lately, I’m really into exploring the subconscious as a mechanism for integrating emotions, values and aesthetics; I want a better understanding of the murky mysteries of feelings and emotions, and how to channel them in constructive, artistic ways.
What is your latest project?
Besides fashion, I’m in the process of developing Zero Zero Volume 3, a multi-media/interdisciplinary art project combining music, film, fashion and tech themes. It will be showcased next April as a kind of a mixed-media gesamtkunstwerk that involves print, digital and hybrid art installations.
What does ‘avant-garde’ mean to you?
It basically boils down to radical experimentation and savvy juxtapositions: the contrasting of old and new, past and present with references to the future…and probing the subconscious to produce novelty and new paradigms.
When are your most creative moments?
My most creative moments happen spontaneously. Randomness is a gift.