Ever have that problem where you just can’t find the right dapper shoes in your size to finish off that perfect outfit? Well, NiK Kacy brings an end to that fashion heartache. Inspired by the needs of the queer and trans community, NiK Kacy recently launched their Kickstarter campaign to fund the creation of the first gender-equal footwear line.
I had the pleasure of meeting up with NiK Kacy in Los Angeles at a brunch with Sharpe Suiting and Saint Harridan. Everything about NiK Kacy’s style was impeccable. Kacy’s passion for the dapper really shows with every detailed decision made and placed in this stunning collection of shoes.
I got to hold the line in my hands, they felt so nice and light. Something you could wear in any weather. The best part of the shoes were that they have this tiny little red stitch holding the leather to the sole. I almost melted.
With the Kickstarter campaign up and running, I asked NiK Kacy some questions about what inspires his designs, how we can support this amazing brand, and what we can expect to see from NiK Kacy in the coming months.
Natalie Yvette Coblentz: Tell our readers a bit about your brand.
Nik Kacy: NiK Kacy Footwear was inspired by and founded upon the fashion needs of the queer and trans community. As someone is who gender-fluid/third sex, I was always put off by the footwear industry’s very archaic view of gendered footwear. To me, everyone should be able to wear whatever style they chose, depending on what suites their fashion sense and style, not their gender or sex. Style should not be defined by gender, nor should it be limited by the gender binary. My long-term vision for this company is to develop a gender-neutral line of dress shoes and boots, as well as high heels in sizes ranging from 36-47 so that regardless of your gender identity, you can choose to wear whatever you feel like.
NYC: Can you tell me a bit about the history and evolution of the NiK Kacy footwear? What motivated you to become a designer and start your own brand?
NK: I left my job at Google in late 2013 to pursue trans surgery, to travel throughout Europe solo, and to start a shoe company. After my top surgery and hysto, I pretty much lugged 50 lbs of luggage through 12 European cities with bandages still wrapped on my chest and incisions still healing. I was very blessed that prior to leaving, I had the community of my chosen family taking care of me and helping me heal enough before I went on my travels.
I wanted to start a shoe company and leave my incredibly stable lifestyle as a Producer because it was something I always dreamt of doing as a child. I spent my whole life not finding the right shoes that fit my style. I was tired of being told by the shoe stores or department stores that they didn’t carry my size. I decided it was now or never to start on this journey, and so I just went and did it.
Because I’m not trained as a shoe designer or a product designer, I took a lot of care and focus as a consumer first and foremost. Luckily, my background is in fine arts and design, so I had some sufficient creative juices to help me develop these designs and draw them out. The key thing though was that I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. Masculine-styled shoes are stunning and dapper the way they already exist. I don’t want my first collection to be something crazy and new. I wanted to wear what I’ve always wanted, but could never get. So, I took very traditional masculine-styled designs and created a gender-neutral proportion last (mold). Then I spiced it up with some colors and contrast and modernized it for what befits queer fashion and style. In short, I made shoes I wanted to wear and now I’m trying to make them accessible to the rest of the community, because I believe all good things are meant to be shared.
NYC: How would you describe the NiK Kacy aesthetic?
NK: The person or the shoes? [Winks]. Well, as a masculine of center individual, I like to dress very dapper in suits, ties, suspenders and what not. I [like] color watches and sunglasses… and if I could be a race car driver, I would. When I’m home or at a friend’s BBQ, I like to be in jeans and a t-shirt. The shoes kind of convey that same aesthetic. The styles of the first collection, titled Fortune, consist of five basic styles, ones which every masculine of center individual should own: the classic derby, the wingtip derby, the monk, the desert, and the dress boot. What makes my collection so sexy is that you get a wide range of styles that really fit any occasion. The red stitching in this collection really pops out and adds a layer of sensuality and life as well.
NYC: Has it been a journey defining your own personal style? Tell me about it.
NYC: I’m not sure that I have redefined my style on this journey, but I feel very confident that as I develop more designs each year that I will definitely be able to get creative and start investigating deeper into my personal style for inspiration.
The journey has been more about defining my personal character. Seeing what I’m made of and seeing what my friends are made of. That experience has been invaluable and inspiring. My community of friends have come together to help me make this dream a reality with volunteering to model for me, editing videos, shooting photos, donating studio space, casting for my shoot, composing original music… the list goes on.
I am consistently in awe of my circle of friends and it drives me to work my butt off even harder to make this dream come true, so I can make them all feel proud of what we have accomplished – not only for us, but for the whole queer world.
NYC: Who or what has most influenced your style?
NK: Men’s fashion has always been what influenced my style. Ever since I was a kid I would doodle men’s clothing in class. They were cheesy and not great but they were suits that I would come up with and wished I could wear one day. In the past few years, one of my closest friends, Leon Wu, founded a custom suit company called Sharpe Suiting. He’s been a huge inspiration for me, as I’ve watched him, and his company, grow. Watching him has giving me the same faith to taking the same leap. In fact, even the equal sign on my shoes were an ode to our collaboration and friendship as the idea came to me when I was looking at his suits with the double lapels. I love that he has suits with the red stitch double lapel because now my entire collection can match it! [Laughs]
I like to think we will continue to inspire each other as we bravely walk together on this fashion revolution. Leon, Naserin and Vanessa have been a huge help for me as I planned for my Kickstarter campaign and spread the word. Because of their experience at the forefront, I am able to trail closely behind. I can’t wait to see where all this will take us!
Model Lilly Alban wearing Sharpe suit and NiK Kacy black boots at dapperQ’s (un)Heeled fashion show hosted by Brooklyn Museum
NYC: Who are your fashion icons?
NK: Calvin Klein, John Varvatos, Alexander McQueen, Tom Ford, Kenneth Cole (and I’ll shyly admit that I love pretty much anything Brangelina puts on. They are the most fashionable man and woman, hands down).
NYC: What is the one article of clothing you cannot live without?
NK: A watch (does that count as clothing?) or underwear… I think I might just keel over if I didn’t have underwear. [Winks]
NYC: What can we expect next from you?
NK: If all goes well and my Kickstarter campaign is a big success, then I will be flying to Portugal and working with my agent and factory to begin production on my first collection. If we meet some of our stretch goals, I could be possibly doing any of the following: designing a collection with pointed toe or square toe, adding a vegan leather alternative, and/or developing a high heels collection for those who are feminine of center.
We wish you well, NiK Kacy! Can’t wait to get me a pair or two or four of your line. IF you want to follow Kacy’s progress or just say Hi, you can find them anywhere @nikkacyfootwear (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+). Also, join Kacy’s #WalkYourWay and show them your shoes!