Colm Dillane of KidSuper Talks Collaborations With Superplastic and Louis Vuitton

Complex sat down with Colm Dillane of KidSuper to talk about the art toys he made with Superplastic, his collaboration with Louis Vuitton, and more.

Kidsuper Superplastic Collaboration Interview
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Image via Superplastic

Kidsuper Superplastic Collaboration Interview

Colm Dillane has collaborated with rap groups like Pro Era, liquor brands like Jägermeister, and footwear labels like Puma. And who could forget the New York City-based designer’s career-defining collaboration with Louis Vuitton at Paris Fashion Week in January? So what’s next for KidSuper? Eight-inch tall vinyl toys made in collaboration with Superplastic. 

Toys may seem like an odd move for a designer who also released a luxurious collaboration with the women’s footwear label Stuart Weitzman this week. However, Superplastic isn’t a normal toy brand like Mattel or Hasbro. Since launching in 2018, they’ve developed a reputation for producing some of the most coveted art toys on the market today. Aside from KidSuper, Superplastic has worked with Gucci, Vince Staples, and Bored Ape Yacht Club. It comes as no surprise that the brand’s founder is also Paul Budnitz, the mastermind behind the pioneering art toy label Kidrobot, which captivated many streetwear enthusiasts in the 2000s. Although Dillane never collected Kidrobot’s art toys, he admits the brand’s prominence within fashion at the time heavily inspired his first “Bots” streetwear label when he was coming up. 

“I walked into the Kidrobot store [on Prince Street] all the time. I never purchased anything but I was obsessed with the brand and mainly the clothing,” says Dillane. “At the time, that was a huge brand and I always remember it for being the first brand where I really felt that they weren’t using just blanks for T-shirts. I recognized that they had these really good quality cut and sew tees.”

Just days after Dillane presented his collections for KidSuper and Louis Vuitton in Paris, Complex got the opportunity to interview Dillane at Superplastic’s brick-and-mortar flagship on Prince Street. Here he speaks about designing art toys for Superplastic, the challenges of working with a luxury house like Louis Vuitton, his approach to design, and how life has changed for him after teaming up with one of the world’s biggest fashion brands. 

Superplastic KidSuper Collaboration Colm Dillane Interview

How has life changed since collaborating with Louis Vuitton?

Well I got some haters. That changed a little bit. I think it’s weird to be seen as more established because my whole brand identity was kind of being this underdog who’s not in the system. And now I’m kind of super in the system and less of an underdog. So, that’s a weird feeling because now I can’t say ‘Fuck the system’ from an office in Louis Vuitton. So yeah, that’s weird. People are treating me a little weirder. They care about what I say more because I’m always roasting people and fucking around. But now I’ll see people who truly take what I’m saying seriously and I’m just joking, dude. If people want to collab with me now, just add a zero at the end of whatever number you’re thinking of. That’s changed. That’s true. I got more expensive [Laughs.]

The cool thing is I got access to do more things and people are asking me now. I was pitching tons of ideas to nobody, right? And everybody would say like, “Haha, good idea.” I always wanted the [new] KidSuper building to be fully sponsored so that I could have a place for people to work out of and live out of. Now, when I pitch the ideas, people are like, “Let’s do that” or “I can support that.” So that’s cool.

You come from a totally different perspective compared to LV. How do you balance your perspective versus another collaborator who could be radically different?

I think it’s a blend of adding your own DNA while also taking their DNA. I mean that’s an obvious answer. But what’s cool is, when you’re designing, you’re always looking for sparks of inspiration. When you’re collaborating with someone, they are the inspiration. That always leads to ideas. Even for the LV one, my favorite item was the letter concept. It’s the letter suit, the letter bags, and that was inspired by LV being a travel company initially. When you travel, you write love letters or letters back from your journey. I loved this idea of handwriting letters. So that suit is actually from getting everyone in the studio to write love letters back home. There are people from Japan, Estonia, Netherlands, China, all different parts of the world there. So that’s something that I would not have thought of for KidSuper, but since I was working with another brand that had its own history I got inspired from that.

That was actually my favorite piece from your collection with Louis Vuitton. 

That piece needs to get more credit. Someone needs to write a whole blog piece about that. Not only that, but I had just joined the office so no one really knew me. It was kind of awkward and I came up with that idea pretty soon. I was like, “Everyone write a love letter. I’ll put a box here. You don’t have to show anyone.” The first day, I got one love letter and there’s like 70 people that work there. There was a moment where I shut off the music and I screamed to everyone and was like, “Everyone, take a moment to write a love letter.” It was cool. It kind of connected everyone a little bit and it was cool to be the outsider that’s in there for the time being. To me that was, as you said, the best piece.

This 500-page book of ideas you presented to LV. Obviously, your followers know you as this designer who has so many out of this world ideas. What was the craziest idea you pitched LV that just didn’t make the cut?

You haven’t seen any of the pitch and none of the pitch ideas made it. But the pitch was like 5% product, 95% concepts. It was like commercials and concepts for fashion shows. Since I didn’t have control over the fashion show concept, you didn’t see much. All of this stuff you saw was original thought while I was there. But yeah, the 500-page book. The craziest ideas? There were a lot of crazy ideas. I don’t want to say them just now because they might come out, but I was shooting for the moon. There was a time where I had to sit down and be like, “What would you do if you had unlimited resources and unlimited money?” That kind of changes your perspective on what you can and can’t do, which is cool to be in a position where your only ceiling is your own thoughts of what’s possible. Then, you have to break your own ceiling of ideas and you’re like, “Holy shit, I could do a fashion show on the moon.” Obviously, that’s bigger than I thought, but not out of the realm. I don’t know how much that would cost but it might cost a couple billion. 

What was the most challenging part of working with a luxury house and would you do it again? 

Yeah, if they hit me up I would do it for sure. It wasn’t that challenging, to be honest. But if you were going to have a challenge, there’s a lot of different egos. There was a little bit of that. It’s not that hard and it wasn’t that hard to manage. But you know, I’m not used to working with a huge team of people. So usually, I say something and it goes. But I liked it because a lot of those people come from such amazing backgrounds of design and had worked for other creative directors. I was always asking them questions and it was like being a kid in a candy shop to get all the knowledge from them. They also work super last minute, which is cool, and that made it feel like a KidSuper project. They have a very good spirit within it that makes it feels like a much smaller company than it is, which is cool.

When you won the Karl Lagerfeld prize two years ago now, Virgil Abloh was on that panel. Did he mentor you like in between this recent show and the moment you won that prize?

We talked to him once, but it was more so overarching mentorship. It wasn’t like we were best friends.

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Now going back to your own label. That crowd you drew in Paris this season was massive. What do you think drew that many people to that show? 

I was honestly not expecting that many people and people think that I did it as a stunt, which I didn’t. As I said before, five years ago I did the same open invite and 100 people came. So I wasn’t expecting 5,000 people to come. I thought the venue was going to be way more chill than they were. Then, they shut down all the gates. I had no control over it and I was screaming at them to let everyone in. So for those that didn’t get in, it wasn’t on me and I’m sorry. You should have been in there. I wanted everyone to be there. I wasn’t trying to create this chaos. It just happened.

I think what many love about KidSuper is that you never take fashion too seriously. And I think that makes it really appealing for people because it feels like you could enter it without having to know all this background about fashion. Is that your goal, to democratize high fashion in that sense? Or is it something else? 

I don’t know if it was necessarily the goal. It was just so true to who I was. My main love with fashion is that you’re making art that anyone can wear, right? That is the most democratized art form. You wear T-shirts, he wears T-shirts, we all wear clothing. I feel that is at the heart of fashion and so is getting people to be a part of it. I always love it when you’re wearing KidSuper, and I see you on the street, I’d go up to you and be like, “Hey, what’s up? What do you do?” It’s a conversation starter. Those were the things I loved about clothing and so that was what I was trying to bring. It wasn’t this thought-out process where I was like, “Oh, I’m going to break the system.” I never even felt a part of the system. So, the fact that I’m in it now is pretty unreal. I hope to keep the spirit alive and make everyone that supports KidSuper for what it stands for proud. 

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