Brandon Kee

BFA Fashion Design student Brandon Kee grew up in a small town outside of Salt Lake City, Utah before coming to San Francisco to study at the Academy of Art University. September of last year, Kee shared his newest collection during the New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2017 season. Kee’s inspirations for his work include hip-hop music and street-style. He was a 2013 finalist in The CFDA/Teen Vogue Scholarship program, and is a current participant in the latest season of Project Runway.

Kee’s most recent collection brings together the explicitly functional characteristics of aviation uniforms with the romantic pastels and floral patterning of a garden soiree. He decided to make his collection reversible after falling in love with a home jacquard fabric with expansive flowers on one side and, on the other side, visually appealing textural floats in the yarn. The collection incorporates elements from multiple historical moments; Kee cites 90’s hip-hop outfits as one inspiration for the collection, and he used part of a Victorian steel gate as a stamp to pattern the collection’s other side.

The pieces in Kee’s collection have a baggy silhouette that in another context might be associated with loungewear and recreation. However, the pieces’ rust-colored accent markings, paired with the hospital masks worn by models in some photo shoots of the collection, together evoke a scene in which models comb through post-apocalyptic rubble, looking for artifacts of a world that once existed.

When discussing his work, Kee frequently returns to the theme of using fashion as a means for people to make a statement about who they are. For Kee, fashion was an antidote to his own shyness—a way of speaking up without speaking. When asked about how he would like his pieces to be remembered a generation from now, he indicated that he aims to create pieces that are “fresh,” “unusual,” and a “challenge to the current state of fashion.”

Kee connects his vision of creating avant-garde work with his goal of expanding the range of options available to those who seek to express themselves through clothing. He offers an appealing view of the designer as someone whose art is itself the raw material for the wearer’s self-expression. Perhaps it is Kee’s belief that his clothing should diversify the range of options that wearers have for self expression that drives the thrilling juxtapositions and dramatic elements at play in his work.

Text Nina Foushee

Photography Fujio Emura