BY SYDNEY BONCHICK
A RISING FORCE WITHIN FASHION
Kailand Morris is currently making a name for himself by building his own unique path within the fashion world. From walking the runways in high-end fashion shows like Dolce & Gabbana and Dior to creating his own fashion brand called House of KOM, Kailand Morris is definitely someone to keep an eye out for in the near future. For being only 19 years old, Kailand has already made an impact on the industry through his unique designs and numerous clothing collaborations with renowned non-profit organizations. I had the honor of interviewing the young creative on his success journey and his advice to aspiring fashion entrepreneurs.
Sydney: I understand that you grew up completely surrounded by the music industry since your father is Stevie Wonder. How and why did you decide to switch your focus from the music industry to the fashion industry? What motivated you to get involved in modeling and fashion design?
Kailand Morris: I never really switched my focus off of music, I just decided to also pursue fashion. I have always been into different facets of design including architecture, cars, and clothing. Of course, my background in music and my love for music will always be there—that will never change. Even being so immersed in the fashion industry, I am still always playing music, just so that I never lose the talents I was given.
Sydney: As for your modeling career, what was it like modeling in your first show and how did you rise to high fashion?
Kailand Morris: My first show was for Dolce & Gabbana two years ago when I was around the age of 16 or 17. I remember opening the show with Cameron Dallas and a few other people. It was definitely nerve racking; never did I think that I would forget how to walk, but when I was walking the runways I definitely did forget. I never wanted to be just a model, and therefore after doing a lot of runway shows, I began to intern with Dior under Kim Jones, who has become a mentor of mine. I now have a capsule collection with this Italian brand called Iceberg coming out. This experience taught me that you have to start somewhere, anywhere, and from there you can keep working up the ranks.
Sydney: MASH is composed of students interested in pursuing a potential career in business and/or fashion. With that said, how have you grown and found your place in the industry at such a young age? What advice would you give to those in a similar position, like the MASH community?
Kailand Morris: I feel like I found my place honestly being true to myself and what I believe is “cool” as far as brands. You can get very lost in different facets of fashion, but I think as long as you go into it with an end goal and stay focused with what you want to accomplish, you can do absolutely anything.
Sydney: I saw that you released t-shirts through your own fashion line, House of KOM, last summer that benefitted the Black Lives Matter Movement and in the fall with Iceberg to benefit Watts Empowerment Center in Los Angeles. What inspired you to combine your interest in fashion with a desire to give back, and what would you say was the most rewarding part of these initiatives?
When I was around the age of 12 or 13, instead of having a birthday party, my parents decided to share the special day in a way that benefits others. I partnered with a non-profit called “All It Takes,” and every birthday, I would host a charity basketball game. This foundation of giving back definitely started then and as I grew older, I wanted to develop my own non-profit. My non-profit is called KOM Worldwide, and within my non-profit, I partnered with Black Lives Matter when the world brought lots of attention to the unjust problems in society. I thought it would be awesome to create a shirt and have all the proceeds go to this foundation. Additionally, the Watts Empowerment Center in Los Angeles—where the youth can develop their talents with the help of top industry and business professionals—is extremely special to me because I was born and raised nearby. I partnered with this non-profit called Redeye and Iceberg, and we came together to make shirts for the kids in the center. Combining this passion of giving back with designing clothes was definitely the most rewarding part and in the process. I was able to see the kids happy and enjoying their shirts while contributing to an important cause. We are definitely not stopping and have a lot of insane ideas in the works all over the world with KOM Worldwide.
Sydney: You had the opportunity to shadow Kim Jones for Fashion House Dior. What are the most valuable lessons you learned from this experience and how did you apply what you learned to your own brand?
If I can give advice to anyone who is working towards a goal, when you intern with somebody you look up to or you are surrounded with people in the working field you aspire to be in, the most crucial thing is just being an absolute “sponge” and soaking up as much knowledge as you can. It is also important and inspiring to observe people’s work ethic… I was also just recently working on a lot of stuff with Kanye and Yeezy Gap, and he is another person that has an insane work ethic. When I was around him, I was always asking him questions to pick his brain as to how he sees things and operates because ultimately once you gain knowledge from these mentors, you can apply it to your own working field as I have done with my capsule collection with Iceberg and clothing line House of KOM.
Sydney: What is next for you in the fashion industry? What are you looking forward to accomplishing within your brand and what do you want KOM to become in the future?
I hope to take over the industry and definitely the face of fashion with respect to my peers and the people I look up to. I definitely believe that I will be on the high-end level in terms of House of KOM. I have a lot of great collaboration as far as design coming up—not just in fashion, but in furniture design, car design, and the list goes on and on. I would just say, a lot of great things are in the works.
Sydney: Lastly, what are the words you live by?
My motto is that the world is yours. Anything you want to do, you can go get, you just really have to have the motivation, focus, and work ethic to achieve whatever you want. It sounds corny, but anything is possible.
Kailand’s actions and accomplishments speak for themselves: at only 19 years old, Kailand is becoming a respected individual within the fashion industry from assisting individuals like Kim Jones and Kanye West to creating his own fashion label while giving back to the community. He is branding himself and creating a reputation for himself that will turn into a legacy. The foundation is laid, but big things are still to come. Stay tuned.