Behind the Seams with Kayce Kirihana
There’s a fearless creative quality that naturally exudes from designer “Infamous Kayce” aka Kayce Kirihara. As we dive into the core of not only her fashion style, but personality, it’s easy to see the connective tissues that have brought the young designer and host to this point. Sports is a passion that runs deep within the proud Seattle native, who was a ball girl throughout high school for the WNBA’s Storm and played collegiate basketball at the University of Hawaii-Hilo.
Returning home after graduation to yet again work for the Storm kept Kayce’s connections in the professional sports world strong, cementing relationships well beyond the court. Kayce soon enough made a shift towards the fashion and corporate world, working for Nordstrom as their Creative Production Manager. Interestingly enough, it was in the corporate world where Kayce began seeing touches of athlete inspiration in the work fashion. “I feel like athletes were the ones to break that barrier of incorporating athleisure into business settings,” she said.
As her personal brand continued to flourish, Kayce made the decision to break away from her corporate life and there was a touch of serendipity in the air one evening out in Seattle, that led to her next big collaboration. Although she was an acquaintance of NFL legend Marshawn Lynch for some time, Kayce was shocked to feel a tap on her shoulder and turn to see the running back. Kayce reveals that for “such a celebrity and icon, he’s pretty laid back. I’ve seen Marshawn on multiple occasions in different cities, BIG clubs, just walking around with a hoodie on. I’ve literally never seen him get a table, so when I felt someone tap me on the shoulder in Seattle of all places, I was shocked to see him”. Marshawn got straight to the point, “I have Beastmode and I’m looking to expand on it, I like your style, have you ever thought of designing your own stuff.” As luck would have it, Kayce’s sister, Tori, who’s also a FIDM graduate, was also at the club that night, so there, in the club, BEASTMODE x T&K was born. Marshawn gave full creative control to the sisters for this collaboration, so it then came down marrying their styles with the BEASTMODE brand. “We’re very much the same, but also very much different. So finding that middle ground is important to us, that fits both of our styles. For us, it was very much the sweats and the chill stuff.”
I quickly admitted to Kayce that I was a bit surprised to see the initial direction of the collab. The bold black and white color pattern was a far cry from the vibrant nature of her personal essentials you see on her social media. Revealing that it was purposeful design to really create a foundation for this capsule collaboration, an opportunity to gauge where the market was as they push the BEASTMODE brand into a bolder sector.
What Kayce and her sister have so exquisitely executed in this collaboration, is the beautiful shift in the fashion and fandom world where a player’s brand can spread beyond their accomplishments on the field. An extension in the examination of the athlete away from their sport, what drives them not only as a player, but as a person and how fashion can aid in telling that story. Kayce put forth a conscious effort in acknowledging the strong support the Beastmode brand already has established but with an ‘Infamous’ sprinkle. “We got to put our spin on Beastmode and what he already does. We picked different material and they are more streetwear inspired sweats. I think the font that we use is very street-spunky essentially. The layout of the Beastmode on the leg, we shortened it, just making it more appealing to what I think my fans want to see”. Kayce describes the collection as having a “west coast vibe” as well, a nod to their childhoods in Seattle and Oakland, and of course, Marshawn’s time with the Seahawks.
When it comes to her personal style, Kayce admires yet another Seattle sports superstar, Sue Bird. “She’s so chill, she doesn’t ask for attention, there’s people you know, who cry for attention and she’s just one of those people who just gets it. I feel like her personality, you can tell a lot about it by the way she dresses. She dresses very cozy and her sneaker collection is…ridiculous…I feel like if you didn’t pay attention, you could miss out how great her outfits are. Sometimes I’m in my closet wondering what I should wear, and I just envision Sue literally closing her eyes and picking out stuff. I envision her picking out an outfit so effortlessly.” That same effortlessness that Sue Bird brings to the fashion game, is something Kayce closely identifies with.
The essential Kayce fit: “Baggy pants with detailing, crop top and killer sneakers. Anything that has vibrant colors I’m of course excited to wear.” In a return back again to her roots on the court, Kayce revealed that she’s playing around with a concept centered around elevating the fashion appeal of basketball shorts. “Most of the way I dress is very Tomboy, cozy, chill and so I think I find the line of being fashionable while also being comfortable.” The BEASTMODE x T&K capsule collection launched right on the brink of the COVID-19 pandemic, putting an initial stall on the many popup and launch parties planned for the release. Once restrictions are lifted, the collaboration is soon to hit retail stores and plans for future collaborations that include cut and sew items are in the works.