Step into the whimsical land of KidSuper. Colm — the designer, artist, and CEO — brought his imagination to life at the corner of Broadway and Keap Street in Brooklyn. The walls painted from corner to corner with incredible artwork, pool table in the middle and a soccer field in the back, the shop is filled with surprises. But none is like the hidden gem in the basement. Colm guided me walking slowly down the stair, I closed my eyes and waited with a childish sense of excitement for Colm to yell, “Now open!” There it was, behind what looked to be an M&M vending machine, Colm’s hidden studio! He gave me a sneak peak to the set and the music video in the works. A perfect end to a tour filled with smiles and joy.
The KidSuper brand, as Colm would say, represents “the childlike sense of wonder”. The enthusiasm you felt as a child, every EXPerience new and even more exciting than the next. This is what you feel when you walk into the KidSuper store and this is what you feel when you meet Colm!!
I was grateful and honored to have the opportunity to jump into the mind of Colm. Take the journey with me as we learn more of who Colm is and how he came about creating, not only a brand but an EXPerience like no other.
You launched KidSuper a little over a year ago and now you have officially two boutiques in NYC, how do you feel your brand has evolved since your first steps in the industry?
Well, I launched it probably like 4 years ago, to be honest, but I was doing from a dorm room in my college. But I started making t-shirt even younger — I was like 15 making t-shirts in new york in high school with my friends.
But how has it evolved? Well, there’s points where you’re like fuck I don’t want to run a business. I just want to do creative stuff. I’m young — am I wasting time being business-oriented? And now it’s at the point that if I want to expand more I need to like hire people, probably get an investor, and all the stuff I never once wanted to think about. Like how to expand while staying kidsupery. And how to navigate the fashion world that is so based on who’s wearing what’s cool at the moment.
In this store, there’s a recording studio in the basement, a soccer field in the back and all these little things that make this more of a fun place rather than just a store. So if the clothes suck or if I’m “not cool” or on the bad side of the coolness factor, you can’t take away from the fact that this is an amazing spot. I’ve clearly worked my ass off and you can’t take any of that away. And if you do like the clothes, that’s awesome too!
It’s a hard balance of being unique but not commercialized, right?
It’s not like I’m against commercializing but I am just not commercial, you know what I mean? If Adidas was trying to collaborate with me, I’d say yes to all that! It’s not that I’m against commercial stuff. It’s more that I don’t understand how you go commercial from being a kid making t-shirts in high school. You have to have some kind of connect or some type of luck or some magical things to happen to go from zero to max.
But it seems like you’re well on your way…
Yeah for sure I am but it’s funny, like each step once you do it feels like nothing. At this point, nothing I’ve done so far feels that accomplished because what I see and want is way bigger.
We know that moving around as a kid greatly influenced your personality but being that a majority of your time was in New York City, how do you think that influenced you and your brand?
So I was born here [New York City] and moved around a lot when I was little. But in 8th grade, I moved back to New York City. I used to live in Chicago, Mexico, and then I lived in Wisconsin.
Beloit Wisconsin is a small suburban town — probably the last place that got Google maps in America. But what was important there was more like sports, running around with your friends, being athletic, and being outdoors — which is awesome and everything everyone needs. Then I was thrown into New York City, where at 12 or 13 you can’t really go see everyone you want because your parents don’t want you on the subway cause it’s dangerous.
Then I jumped to high school in Brooklyn tech where brand names and what you wear was so important. In Wisconsin, it wasn’t about what you wore but more like how you wore it. When I started attending Brooklyn Tech I thought, damn where are these kids getting this money to buy these expensive clothes?! So I thought, fuck the name brands and fuck spending money. I’m going to go make my own clothes! That’s kind of how it started like I was not a fashion person but I was shocked at how fashion was when I moved to New York, but I was always fashionable and stood out. I had my own style so I started to make my own clothes like I would wear my mom’s pink jeans and stuff.
So New York pushed you to make your own clothes?
Yes, for sure! If I had gone anywhere else for high school I would not be making clothes, hundred percent! Another thing was, there were kids doing it — making t-shirts and we had heard of stories like Supreme, Mishka, and 10 deep were all here New York City. All these streetwear brands — one being Only. We were watching Only turn into the brand that it is now and thought damn this is possible! This is something our peers do! If I had gone anywhere else, I probably wouldn’t have heard of all these people. Like I was friending a lot of the creators on facebook when I was like 15 and messaging them questions. So now when I receive messages and questions I respond to every one of them. I try to give them my best advice.
What is a superhero to you?
The reason why I named the brand kid super was because I was so underdeveloped when I started making clothes. I was the 15-year-old kid that look like he was 7 and did not have any puberty to be found. I was like tiny, I was 4 foot 8 freshman year of high school. So I was always whimsical and super optimistic like children are. Like when children see anything for the first time they’re like this is amazing! They are also not shy to be like, “Hi my name is Ben let’s be best friends!” So that was kind of like the mentality around KidSuper as the brand. But it started like we were freestyle rapping and I was like rappers can name themselves anything if I could be anything what would I be?! And KidSuper came up.
KidSuper represents the childlike sense of wonder. It fit my personality…brands are usually branded around something and this was branded around the exaggerated version of myself.
Along with your passion for art, fashion, and music, how have your studies in math translated into these passions?
I think math is really creative, most people don’t. But it’s just basic problem solving. You have your tools that you know to use them to solve things. It’s like the equations or whatever your foundations of mathematics, you use those creatively to solve something. So in that sense, I think it’s very creative — even though people don’t think it is. That’s why mathematics in America is taught so terrible. Math gives you a sense of accomplishment, the feeling of if I can do that I can do anything. One day I want to give a seminar on math and how fun and creative it can be.
KidSuper seems to be more than just a fashion line, as you bridge the line between fashion and art, your pieces serve as a canvas to your story. Is each piece unique and one-of-a-kind? And what do you think intrigues your fanbase about your story?
This line has a lot of one of one of a kinds piece because I felt that everyone was copying everyone else. I think fans are drawn to my line because of my personality and how tangible it is. How you can see how possible it is, how you can do it yourself. Also, it is unique, like all the pieces are rare and you can’t get it anywhere else. And I always do funny videos cool stuff. Constantly branding myself doing different things like the music video I just directed.
KidSuper had its first presentation during this past fashion week. How do you feel the reception was for the show? Will there be one for February?
Everyone loved the show and everyone said mine was the best by far. Which I thought so too. I think if you put my stuff on a big platform, I think it could contend with a lot of the big brands. I have a fun spirit in my brand, which is cool that it translates. It’s cool that I don’t consciously do that but it happens.
Will you be a part of next season’s fashion week?
Presentations are cool if someone asked me to be a part of it for sure I will. But organizing one myself, I would do it if I knew the right people were going to come. But it is so hard to force these “important” people to come. I don’t know who you should contact to be at your fashion show. So that’s hard, but I am going to do it eventually. Once I get a big enough platform where I don’t need other people, for sure.
What is your vision for the future of KidSuper?
I want to rent the whole building. I want the top floor to be artist and residence where different artist depending on what they do get the chance to live in New York City for a week or whatever, like two weeks max. They get to stay in the city and create. So like a musician can come and do a recording session and make some music in New York. The only thing is they will owe me is an interview, song or like teach a free class on their art skill.
I would also like to make a reality show on KidSuper. It is not based on me or on my clothing. Every episode has a mission and to accomplish that mission I need collaborators, other superheroes. Then at the end of that mission, we create something tangible. That tangible thing is sold or somehow come to make a profit. The sales of that tangible thing will go to an organization tied to the mission. So for example, I want to create a New York City album with strictly New York busker, people that perform on the train or outside, have an album curated and then release that album. The profits will go to a shelter.
Lastly, for someone visiting your store in Williamsburg, where would you suggest to get a bite to eat along the way?
Oh, food! Across the street is Dotory, its Korean spot and incredible! Then there is Mexican 2000 which is an icon, incredible! Then there is taco Santana, which right around the corner. This is also a Mexican restaurant and it’s also incredible. If you have eaten too much Mexico 2000 go to Taco Santana or vice versa. Those are my go!