I like to consider myself as someone who lives, eats, and breathes fashion. I’m always intrigued by designers and their clothing. However, there is one thing I have never done I have always wanted to do, sit down and “chat” with a fashion designer. I have always wanted to know what inspired these people to make the clothing that I indulge in looking at in magazines, on websites, on television, and even in books. Fortunately, I was blessed with the opportunity to speak personally with one. This man is not just a designer, but he is definitely a force to be reckoned with in the fashion industry. Kenneth “KAS” Flanagan is the CEO of KAS Collection Inc. and House of Kas boutique. I researched his work and I must say I was thoroughly impressed, he is definitely a hidden treasure who carries tremendous prominence. From the immaculate tailoring of his signature suits to the thorough detailing and fitting of his dresses, Mr. Flanagan represents one of the most important traits to have as a designer, QUALITY.
What’s even more impressive is he did not attend fashion school or receive any type of education when it came to designing and making clothing. He simply learned on his own, “I used to go to consignment shops because my mom got tired of me wasting fabrics and messing them up. So, I said you know what? I can go to thrift stores. I can buy suits, dresses etc.” With those same suits and dresses, he would take them apart and sew them back together. Through that practice Mr. Flanagan learned how to sew. He has created pieces for Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Keyshia Cole, and Trey Songz to name a few. It was Kas who inspired Trey Songz to cut off his braids and take on the clean haircut look. I was interested in finding out what inspired this fashion connoisseur to get in the industry. He simply replied, “My mother.” He then continued and said, “She was a huge influence in my life. She could dress her tail off. She was dressing people, styling people, doing makeovers for people. She even did makeovers do us. I was fascinated by it so, I took it and ran with it.” It was clear that fashion was a way of life from a child and it was certainly in his DNA. It was then he explained through his mother he learned wearing a name brand does not make you more “fashionable” than the next person. I had no choice but to agree with his statement. Fashion is more than just name brands, it is about personality and expressing yourself through clothing. It was then I was inclined to ask Mr. Flanagan about his breakthrough moment in his career. In 2003, he entered the BMW International Designers competition, “I typically just wanted to get involved, just to be around my comrades, to be inspired, and see where I would place in that type of environment.” Out of 250 designers from around the world, he placed third. So, here I am speaking with someone who is not just a regular designer, a designer who carries legitimate international recognition. From someone who appreciates fashion, I was quite overwhelmed and slightly star struck. Kas would later receive further notoriety after being named designer of the year in New York, Paris, and London. Along with many other accolades, he got his big break when he released his line through Saks Fifth Avenue. For all of you high fashion designer name brand lovers, we BOTH know Saks is a big deal! I also consider it to be an amazing win for the African American community being that an African american male’s creativity was deemed great enough to be displayed in a department store where there is a strong emphasis on quality high fashion. It is February so, that may just be a little known black history fact for you (*wink wink*). As he was going down his list of achievements, I couldn’t help but to be astonished. Mr. Flanagans’s resume was immaculate, “I was a ghost designer for designers such as YSL, Escada, Gucci, Burberry, Max Azria for 11 years.” He was also given the opportunity to move to Milan and understudy Yves Saint Laurent himself, “That was my mentor.” During the interview Mr. Flanagan was very open. He was captivating and passionate. Eventually he want to be a college professor, educating students on the fashion industry. I wanted to know what advice he would give someone looking to work in the industry, “Know your market, do your research.” Doesn’t sound like much right? However, it says a mouthful. I have no doubt Mr. Flanagan will be a fashion legend. As far as a line that gives quality as well as speaking couture Kenneth “Kas” Flanagan is certainly your “guy”.