NYFW SS19: Conversation Pieces x Kristopher Kites
12 Pell Street - Chinatown
All Photos Taken By: Sanglui Azang-Njaah
We arrived in Chinatown hopping out of our Lyft, I followed behind Dani, Jasmine and Jhordyn into 12 Pell. “LOVE YOURSELF LIKE KANYE LOVES KANYE #GO12PELL” hung brightly light in a sign at the building’s entrance.
12 Pell is a relevantly new barber shop in Chinatown that sells sneakers and clothing in the front of the store while the barbers are set up closer to the back of the store.
People hung out in the narrow doorway as we pressed our way into the space. Eager to see who this Kristopher Kites was and what his “Conversation Pieces” Pop Up was really about.
We were quickly greeted by a Kites’s sister Ameerah who hugged us and thanked us for coming. Walking us around the small shop, she explained the pieces to us while Kites talked with costumers. From The Power Puff Girls, to Marvel Universe character Venom, we looked at the necklaces that lined the shelves. The space was clean and brightly lit, making very easy to appreciate the designs. Shaun, cousin of Kites & Ameerah, stood behind Dani in the mirror as he adjusted the clear plastic chain links that now lined her neck. Jasmine and I sat down while Jhordyn also waited to get fitted.
Kites stands tall with his hair braided back, the ends finished with clear beads. Dressed in a white long sleeved shirt that reads “[INSERT CHAIN HERE]” on the front and “KRISTOPHER KITES DID THE CHAIN” on the back. A large Venom action figure half submerged in a clear block hangs around his neck. Kites is very approachable, greeting every one of the costumers that comes through the doors. Asking them each their name, Kites encourages everyone to talk to him before they leave.
I had the opportunity to talk with Kites and learn more about the designer.
“I fake make clothes and I fake make jewelry.” he tells me. Coming from the south side of Chicago, the designer is here for his first NYFW and further explains that, he is a designer of all sorts and doesn’t want people to limit him into just one thing. “A lot of my designs in fashion and jewelry, something orthodox, I’ve turn it up on it’s side. So, I say I fake make it because it’s not the traditional way that jewelry is made.”
When asked about his studio space, Kites tells me, “I have a fake studio.” Laughing, he went on to explain that he is very careful with the process of making the chains now. “I have a lot of gear to make sure I can preserve my safety.”
Already picked up by VOGUE, the designer has only been making chains for 40 days in which he has already sold over 200 pieces. But Kites says there is no secret to his success. “I did a five day gallery at Congruent Space back in Chicago.” Kites describes Congruent Space as being a magnificent retail and environmental space. “On the third day VOGUE did an article on it and after VOGUE, it really got jumping.” (read VOGUE article here).
Kites isn’t afraid to go against the norms saying, “a lot of people just seclude themselves to the norm or what everyone else is thinking. I don’t really go with it, I just think for myself.” Kites goes on to say that, he wanted to show people all the creatives stand points he could touch as a designer, stating the more he did the chains, the more he realized how great of a design it was.
Owning over 600 of comic books, Kites is now bringing his childhood to life. “No one could geek me out of that because that’s what made me happy.” he says.
When asked what his favorite chain was Kites lifted up the Venom chain around his neck. “Venom or The Big Joker this is conversation piece.” He pointed to the top shelve where ‘The Big Joker’ chain was being displayed to show everyone who had gathered around while he and I were talking. “This is the heart of what I've been making. This, [venom], is the first one I actually dyed and changed the color of. Just the whole detail of venom is just crazy.”
As we spoke Euroz walked up to the group dapping up Kites. Wearing the ‘Daredevil’ chain he tells Kites, he bought it online and had to come out to support as soon as he heard about the pop up.
“I’m just really enjoying the pop ups. I get to talk to people.” Kites tells me that during his last online drop, he sold 60 chains in 20 minutes. “That’s cool and fun but I don’t get the interaction I want with people.” Kites further explained the importance of talking to his costumers and being able to reach them. Saying that many might want a chain that may not be available online but they can come get them at the pop up.
Although the chains have already quadrupled in valued, Kite says even though he could price them higher, he prices them low because he wants everyone to have one. Briefly touching on the fact that some jewelry doesn’t appreciate over time, Kites said wants his costumers to not only enjoy their chains but to be able to see the investment in actual art.
When asked about doing collaborative work, Kites stressed that he only wants to work with people if it is something organic. “I’ve even held back from a lot of collaboration because I wanted them to be organic.”
“Where do you see yourself in the next forty days?” I asked him.
Kites replies, “If you only knew what I knew, then you’d know that the next 40 days would be amazing.” Kites disclosures to all standing around that he has major collaborations on the way that he is very excited for us to see. But we will just have to be on the look out.
I regrouped with Dani, Jasmine and Jhordyn. Dani had purchased a ‘Salior Moon’ chain while Jhordyn had purchased the ‘Blossom’ chain from the Power Puff Girls collection. After hugging everyone and making plans to later on connect, we ventured off into the streets of Chinatown to take photos.
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