DJ, designer, filmmaker, artist and now PUMA collaborator, Vashtie Kola tells us all there is to know about her new BBoy inspired PUMA collection.
PUMA × Vashtie
Vashtie Kola’s just an all round cool girl. Long gone are the days when ‘It’ girls are just pretty things with money, in 2015, they have to work hard for that enviable status. Vashtie’s latest venture is into design with part sportswear, part streetwear brand, PUMA. Handing Vashtie the reigns, PUMA knew that the company name was in safe hands with the NYC resident.
Embracing often overlooked subcultures, Vashtie has looked to BBoys and street dancers that have been a constant within the city that never sleeps since the 80s. Her debut SS15 collection is a mix of the old and new, reinventing classic PUMA models with colour updates, taking on a bold palette, centred around metallic gold, burgundy and iridescent fabrics. After nearly two years of designing, the collaboration is finally here. We caught up with Vashtie herself to find out about the partnership.
How did your collaboration with PUMA come about?
In the summer of 2013, PUMA approached me and we had a meeting over coffee. After a few initial discussions, I went to the drawing board to see what I wanted to create and presented by ideas.
What do you like about the brand, why did you agree to work with them?
PUMA has partnered with some of the best, including McQueen. When they approached me, they were just open to anything I wanted to do, granting me creative freedom, which as an artist, is important to me. They trusted me to fulfill my vision.
What were your initial inspirations and reference points?
Initially, 3 things came to mind immediately when thinking creatively about the PUMA collaboration. When I thought about PUMA, I remembered my youth, early 80’s BBoy culture and 90s alternative style…subcultures that PUMA had an impact on. I called on my memories of what the brand symbolised for me.
My family was pretty poor, so I didn’t grow up with a lot of name brand items. PUMAs were the first pair of name brand sneakers I bought myself when I was in 8th grade and starting skateboarding. I basically tapped into that era of my life. At that age I was discovering skateboarding, Bboy’ing (breakdancing), hip hop and alternative music…everything from Nas to Stone Temple Pilots.
Bboy culture was something that always inspired me, especially images and music from that early 80’s New York era. I really wanted to pay homage to it because it gave me such inspiration.
Seeing images like from Jamel Shabazz’s book Back In The Days, mesmerises me…these hood folk just styling like nobody’s business. The silhouettes were clean and colours were rich blacks and burgundys – I wanted to tie that into my collection.
I also wanted to throw in some edgier pieces that symbolised alternative style from the 90s; the iridescent track suit with the shorts and the mini back back.
Where do you find inspiration to dress yourself each day?
I actually find it easier to wear the same thing everyday. I was never too adventurous or creative in the closet. It also takes me forever to make a decision and also I think I like wearing a uniform because I attended Catholic School until I was 18. Wearing the same styles everyday allows me more time to creatively focus on other things.
What kind of person do you imagine will wear the pieces and where will they wear them?
I imagine everyone and anyone will wear it…and wear it anywhere. The pieces are unisex and in my mind, they are universal. A cute British footballer could wear it headed to practice, a fashion savvy American girl can wear it during fashion week, an African ambassador could wear it on his day off, a Japanese teenager could wear it to school, an international musician could wear it for a show. It was designed for anyone and everyone.
How did you find a balance between your own personal tastes and the typical aesthetic of the brand?
My own personal taste is quite simple and possibly boring, but I like classics over trends. With my brand Violette and the PUMA collaboration, I wanted to keep with that personal aesthetic, clean and simple silhouettes but I also wanted to be creative with fabrics and embellishments.
What’s your favourite part of the collaboration? Is there a colour or style choice you really love?
I’m obsessed with the mesh tee because it’s reversible. I like more bang for your buck and loved the idea of making something that had two options in one. You don’t have to decide on the black or the burgundy. You can have both. Also, who doesn’t love the iridescent track jacket and shorts?!
Vashtie Kola’s PUMA collaboration is available to purchase now.
Words: Lily Walker