KidSuper founder Colm Dillane on Jack Grealish, SpaceX and brand collaboration

The fashion industry has reached a collaborative state of evolution that is blurring the boundaries of the arts, while striving to connect with as many people as possible. To understand how it works, all you need to do is get to know Colm Dillane and his brand, KidSuper.

Each of the label’s collections are a marriage of streetwear, whimsical creativity, and fine sartorial craftsmanship, with each design decorated in paintings by the founder. The best-selling Kissing Bag being one hero piece, which, when closed shut, creates an image of two people embracing. 

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Debuting in June 2023 and selling out within one minute, the Kissing Bags depict exactly what KidSuper is all about. Photo: KidSuper

Streetwear designer-painter Dillane’s meteoric rise has seriously outpaced industry greats. He hosted his first ever runway show in 2019 in Paris during fashion week despite being declined from the official schedule, and by 2023, co-designed the Louis Vuitton Fall 2023 collection.

“The fact that they were rejecting me from Paris Fashion Week, I was like wow, they’re actually paying attention enough to review me,” Dillane tells Jing Daily. “I wasn’t afraid of not being good or talented enough. I was afraid of not even being looked at. Once they said no, I was like, ‘oh, I am 100 percent getting this.’ It became just a time and effort thing.”

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Colm Dillane wearing his designs. Photo: KidSuper

Up, up and away

By 2021, he had gone on to win the coveted LVMH Prize and Karl Lagerfeld Prize. And, it was in 2022 that KidSuper finally made the official PFW schedule with a 150-piece collection inspired by the characters of his hometown of New York City. That might seem like an immense collection, but the creative is known for his industriousness, having recently released a 25 minute movie for the Spring 2023 collection.

Back in January, it was revelaed that he would be guest creative director for a full Louis Vuitton Fall 2023 collection, becoming the first to follow the late Virgil Abloh, a move that has propelled his popularity in China.

Dillane explains how that Louis Vuitton collaboration has transformed the way the industry and consumers view him. “I’m considered an ‘it’ designer now, it was similar to what the LVMH Prize did for me, but times a million. It changed, and still does change, the way people are looking at me,” he says.

To compare: Marc Jacobs launched his eponymous brand nine years before designing for Louis Vuitton, and it took Kim Jones 15 years after launching his namesake label before he joined the house. Even the new Louis Vuitton creative director, Pharrell Williams, has been running Billionaire Boys Club and its sister brand Ice Cream since 2003.

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Louis Vuitton Fall 2023 by KidSuper’s Colm Dillane. Photo: Louis Vuitton

Like fellow trailblazers Virgil Abloh and Samuel Ross, Dillane started off creating clothing without any design education. In 2012, he was selling T-shirts out of his spray-painted NYU dorm, during his math major. Each garment featured illustrations by him and his friends — it was the start of the brand under his “dream rapper name” KidSuper. 

“Without New York, I would have never ever really started in fashion to be honest, which is crazy to even think about,” Dillane says. “In my art, there’s always an eclectic group of people in surreal or not surreal scenarios, which is my perspective of NYC. There are all these different people that without this beautiful city would not be on the same street together. I always try to capture that.”

That community spirit and street-to-runway creative process is at the core of what luxury fashion has grown to become. Inspired by humanity’s collective nature, collaboration has come to define KidSuper’s identity.

“I think that I come up with really interesting ways of doing fashion because I haven’t come from a fashion lens, so my ideas are different,” says Dillane. “I also don’t really know anyone who’s producing to the level that I am, in terms of just things.”

An example of his output is the seven-episode animated series for KidSuper’s debut Puma collection, starring Usain Bolt, Héctor Bellerin, Jessie Reyez, Meechy Darko, Lolo Zouai, West Side Gun, and Lil Tecca. Following that collection, KidSuper went on to produce collaborations with brands such as Suicoke, Coca-Cola, Zellerfeld, Alice+Olivia, Jägermeister, Stuart Weitzman, Ugg, and Barnsley FC, with an upcoming Tommy Hilfiger collaboration on the way, too.

As a continuation of his work with Puma, last month Dillane designed a bespoke one of one jacket for world-famous Manchester City footballer Jack Grealish. A precious moment for a soccer enthusiast like Dillane, who says one of his dreams “is to purchase a soccer team and call it KidSuper FC.”

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Jack Grealish and KidSuper. Photo: Puma

Everyone wants the KidSuper DNA

Collaborations have brought many fans to KidSuper, and as a company that merges fashion and art so fluidly, that has also been a natural evolution for Dillane. 

“Early on, I was collaborating with people and musicians instead of these big brands,” he says. “I would always do album artwork, or merge design. Now, working with big brands, I see collaborations as investments that don’t get a percentage. Some are throwing money at me that is like what an investor would throw at me.”

The Puma tie-up, for example, has provided many opportunities for Dillane in terms of budgeting for shows and collections. However, the tricky part now is the volume of companies reaching out, he says.

“Brands are like, let’s get the KidSuper DNA, which is 15 paintings. That’s not easy at all; so now I need the help of a team. I wish my DNA was just all black,” jokes the founder, who actually does take the juggling of fashion design and art in his stride. “When I’m not crushing it mentally in clothing and need inspiration, I’ll turn to painting and then when I’m not crushing painting, I’ll turn to clothing. It’s positive procrastination.”

Dillane’s sophisticated understanding of the collaborative spirit that luxury fashion has embraced is propelling KidSuper to become one of the world’s most exciting streetwear brands.

To luxury brands bursting to jump on the wave of collaborating with creatives or independent designers, he advises:

“Be aware that you might be about to change someone’s life. You should both be aware of that, and give them space to be creative,” he says. “Give them resources that they are not used to having, whether that’s marketing money, a team, or merchandising. You will really see people grow to the occasion – some people won’t obviously, but you will be able to see that.”

Certainly, without the assistance of partner companies, KidSuper would not have reached its current height at such a rapid pace. Collaboration has become a central pillar of the luxury fashion industry, in a way that champions emerging talent and the arts. Heritage labels are fully equipped with the ability to accelerate names, like Dillane.

Just four years on from his first runway show, the designer has already landed brand collaborations that most only ever dream about. So, how does he progress from that? “Human-wise, Ronaldinho. Brand-wise, SpaceX,” says Dillane. You heard it here first.


Collabs and Drops