Fashion designer Harikrishnan KS tells all about his famous inflatable latex trousers
An Instagram sensation, the London-based designer goes into detail about the concept and construction of his inflatable graduate collection.
- Ayla Angelos
- 18 March 2020
- Reading Time
- 4 minute read
You’ve most likely already come across this designer on the gram – i.e. the one who made the most impressive balloon trousers you’ve ever seen in your life. In case not, the man behind these incredible creations is Harikrishnan KS, a London-based designer whose inflatable latex trousers have been circulating the internet like wild fire, and rightly so.
Hari, who was raised in one of the southern states of India, grew up heavily influenced by his father’s life drawing collection. “I always tried to replicate them,” he tells It’s Nice That. “I was very interested in anatomical drawings.” As time went by, he went on to study at the National Institute of Fashion Technology before accepting a role to work for Suket Dhir, the 2015 International Woolmark Prize winner. And most recently, he completed his MA in Menswear Design from the London College of Fashion. “Working closely with Suket Dhir was amazing,” he says. “He game me a good start in the industry; I got to work with international buyers and events.” This experience also advanced his learnings of textiles, “since we used to work with a lot of textile manufactures and weavers,” – something which he was to cherish later on down the line.
Having graduated, Hari has now come to define his style as one that harmoniously blends humour and silliness. “I attempt to blur the boundaries between clothing and high art with disruption at the centre of my work,” he adds on the description of aesthetic. Most poignant is Hari’s belief in the power of imagery and narrative – one that he calls a “speculative approach”, particularly in the context of fashion design where he is able to “critique the current proportions and visualisations.”
This motive, plus the view that the industry is riddled with repetition and similar proportions, forms the crux to Hari’s ethos as a designer. “I want to change the way that people see themselves; I want to create visual imagery that’s far away from neutrality, while making people think and question the relevance of current proportions,” he adds. “Therefore the psychology of familiarity and unfamiliarity was manipulated in this collection, to create imagery which elevates the clothing to a sculptural level and forces the viewer to stop and think.”
GalleryHarikrishnan KS: Graduate collection
Referring to his graduation collection, Hari tells us how he devised the concept while playing with his pet dog. Influenced by the “dogs vision” and how it differs from humans, this interaction sparked an idea: “The interesting aspect was the exaggeration of objects viewed from such a low angle, it reminded me of fisheye lens imagery and I began to wonder if he sees the same way others see.” Thus, this moment led to the hilarious proportions that we lay witness to in this collection.
“Visualising the world through his eyes was exciting and humorous with strange possibilities in terms of proportion,” he explains. “The thought of him seeing me as a giant figure or not seeing my head was quite puzzling, so I decided to visually remind the people around me through the game of distortion, inspired by his eyes.” A playful approach, and one that employs the notion of an alternate reality, or a new perspective from a dog’s eye.
Playfulness aside, there was one challenge that Hari stumbled across during the design process of his collection. He tells us that because he’s expanding the human form in a dimension that “goes beyond the normal” and into something derived from Jean-Paul Goude, he subsequently needed a material to give enough leeway and freedom to toy with the dynamic proportions. The answer to this conundrum was latex, timed with tailored pieces of 100% wool, hand dyed in collaboration with artisans from New Delhi. “Therefore, I picked up latex as the core fabrication for this collection, and decided to push its limits with inflation as a key visual element,” he says, before explaining how he also incorporated a bicentennial toy-making craft from the south of India and reinterpreted it into a collection of wearables, “to create new lifelines for the community.” This, plus the fact that his inflatables use a majority of roll ends and dead stocks contributed by Supatex, gives a highly sustainable edge to his work.
What’s more is that each trouser took nearly 40 hours to complete, due to the intricate cutting methodology, having to transform mini clay models into latex panels, as well as sticking together various angles with “high contouring” to create the most outlandish forms possible. Once in form, Hari would pump hit into the trouser through a 7mm free flow inflation value attached to the rear edge.
These sculptural extremities can be traced back to Hari’s mantra as a designer. Not only does he see a fashion collection as a film, but he also believes that it should be a well-formulated mix that “excites people, and makes them think and speak”. This explains much of his cinematic approach and stylistic choices. “I want to create something that speaks to the viewer rather than just pass through their visual horizon – I want their eyes to stop and think for once, and when they go close I have stories to tell about each piece.”