The Gen Z fashion designer, artist, and influencer discusses how giving back has granted him a new outlook on life, why the fashion industry needs to do better, and his perspective on BLM.
Forging an independent path may seem like a challenge when born to parents whose names exude fame, but Kailand Morris – son of legendary musician Stevie Wonder and designer Kai Milla – is certainly making a name for himself on his own behalf. At just 19 years old, the modern creative (with his remarkably knowledgeable and mature style) has already graced the runways of some of the biggest names in the fashion industry, turned heads with his charitable efforts, and founded an entire clothing label by himself.
Frankly, it’s unsurprising that a Gen Zer introduced to the arts from the get-go should be so heavily involved with creative innovation, but not only is Kailand setting a significant example for others pursuing similar passions, he is determined to do good, using his 234K-strong (and counting) platform to promote equality, conscious consumerism, and empowerment. ‘I hope to influence people around the world to do better, especially at the time we’re in now’ he tells Thred. ‘I feel as though our world is in serious need of leaders who will guide people on the right track, particularly the younger generation.’
Inspired by his mother’s work and fuelled by a heavy involvement with popular culture, Kailand launched House of KOM last year. The brand, which focuses on the different narratives of garment design through high quality experimental pieces ‘in a sustainable manner,’ is evidently Kailand’s calling, his first foray into running a business, but it doesn’t seem that way.
‘The future is not about erasing our past; it’s all about evolution, adaptation, and respect,’ he says. ‘We must be conscious of what everybody needs. Truly good business, after all, is not about the bottom line.’
A second-nature of sorts, Kailand possesses a multi-faceted approach to his career, understanding exactly what it means to front a brand in 2020. He acknowledges that his primary demographic seeks a great deal more than just clothes these days; Gen Z consumers are determined to reshape brand objectives, valuing those that stretch beyond product sales and comment on societal issues.
‘I want House of KOM to be more than just clothing because I feel a strong need to raise awareness about what’s happening in the world right now,’ he explains, referring to the social injustice t-shirts he designed earlier this year as BLM protests unfolded across the globe. ‘Living in the US as the movement grew was a beautiful experience, but it’s taken a lot of force and momentum for people to actually start taking the right action, to change a situation that should have already changed. That’s why I’ve taken it upon myself to show support.’
For him, fashion and philanthropy are inexorably linked, a mindset he’s held onto since childhood. ‘As a kid all I wanted was to be able to provide and give back to communities on a global scale,’ he adds. ‘It’s something that moulded my whole outlook on life and now, being able to do so through a work field that I’m also inherently passionate about is a dream come true.’
A sentiment echoed by his brother, the two Gen Zers are clearly united in their belief that with a large following, comes the responsibility to enforce change. ‘I use Instagram to shine a light on the systemic racism that still prevailing worldwide,’ says Mandla. ‘It’s essential we come together now to make a stand and show solidarity for those fighting for basic human rights.’