We recently had a chat with New York-based Vashtie Kola about her recent endeavors as PUMA‘s newest ambassador, her relationship with the brand, her fashion style, and her opinions on the future of sports and lifestyle brands. With DJ, director, artist, designer, and a slew of other titles under her belt, Vashtie continues to validate herself as a sheer creative force whose experiences in the industry have garnered her a considerable following for her tastes in fashion, art and music. Her debut collection with PUMA is comprised of unisex apparel and footwear, and takes inspiration from B-boy and skateboarding culture as well as her own eclectic style as a tomboy with a New York upbringing. We caught up with “Downtown’s Sweetheart” at her PUMA 2015 spring/summer collection fashion show and launch party in New York City. Check out the exclusive interview below, and explore the Vashtie x PUMA lookbook here. The collection is now available for purchase at premium PUMA retailers worldwide.
“I love that [PUMA] allowed me creative freedom to do what I wanted. They trusted me and part of great collaborations is absolute trust.”
Please give us a short background about who you are and what you do?
I am a music video director who has worked with Justin Bieber, Kendrick Lamar and Joey Bada$$. I am a designer who, through my own brand Violette New York, designed a pair of Jordans in 2010 and also recently collaborated with Beats by Dre on a limited edition headphone as well as with G-Shock on a limited Edition watch. And of course, PUMA. As a creative director I have consulted for Tommy Hilfiger, Life+Times, i am OTHER, ICECREAM Girl/BBC and more. I also DJ around the world as well as for my NYC residency at Webster Hall every Thursday.
How would you define your own style?
Tomboy with goth school girl tendencies.
As an active ambassador of PUMA, what do you like about the brand?
I love that they allowed me creative freedom to do what I wanted. They trusted me and part of great collaborations is absolute trust.
Can you highlight some of the aspects from working with them that you enjoy?
Not only are they just a pleasure to work with, but they like to align everyone they collaborate with. They keep everyone together, like a family… not just one-offs. When Ronnie Fieg had his Paris pop-up, they invited me to attend and DJ. When they recently did their event in Las Vegas with Future, they did the same again. They like to keep the relationship healthy and moving.
“I have naturally always gravitated towards men’s silhouettes for my own personal style. So, it was a no-brainer that the styles be more masculine to suit a guy, but also a girl with style like myself.”
What about some of the challenges?
Their office was located in London when we started. It was nice to travel there to work on the collection, but we had limited time and I was constantly dealing with jet lag. It made the process a challenge, but we worked through it all.
Can you tell us a little on how the relationship between you and PUMA started?
They approached me in the summer of 2013 and it started there – bouncing ideas and discussing the opportunity. I presented a presentation of my inspirations; ’80s B-Boy culture and ’90s Alterna-style… basically the way I was introduced to the brand via the things that I loved and that inspired me.
How did you approach designing for guys?
I have naturally always gravitated towards men’s silhouettes for my own personal style. So, it was a no-brainer that the styles be more masculine to suit a guy, but also a girl with style like myself.
What is it about a sports/lifestyle brand (in general) that’s attractive to you?
It fits my lifestyle. I’m a sneakers and T-shirt girl. Tons of girls say that, but it’s really where I come from. It’s my lifestyle.
“I love the Internet, but you’d think it would give everyone room to perfect their own unique style. If you’re plain, be plain. At the end of the day, it’s more original than what everyone is copying.”
Can you see an impending change within the sports/lifestyle market?
I have been traveling a lot to other countries for Fashion Week; Paris Men’s, Paris Couture, London Ready-to-Wear, Paris Ready-to-Wear… and I see high fashion really embracing sports/lifestyle items in their own way. Even through the street snaps. It’s not just women in head to toe couture wearing heels, now they add varsity jackets and running sneakers.
What about the future of PUMA? Where is that going in your eyes especially with the likes of Rihanna on board?
I think they have the potential to really create a new history and show the world what they are truly capable of. Their heritage is rich and has its place in the world, but I think with all the new energy they are bringing in it will really change the space of sports/lifestyle as we know it.
How would you like to see people dress at the moment?
I’d love it if people stopped copying what they see on Instagram and Tumblr. I just think everyone lacks their own personal style and it’s almost like we are all clones. I love the Internet, but you’d think it would give everyone room to perfect their own unique style. If you’re plain, be plain. At the end of the day, it’s more original than what everyone is copying.