By SPECIWOMEN Photography RUBY ROSE
"I know that fashion is most typically associated with women, and is also one of the most accepting industries out there, but I also have to work with individuals that are not in the fashion industry- and that is where I see the most disrespect because of my gender"
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Kate Walz. I’m 20 years old. I live in Brooklyn, New York, and I am originally from Omaha, Nebraska. I am a sophomore at Parsons, where I’ve dreamed of going since the 4th grade. I’ve created well over 200 garments in my life. I’m a vegetarian of about 5 years. I get emotional when I see dogs because I love them so much. I drink too much coffee. I carry gold stars with me everywhere and give them to my friends. I have a chip in my front tooth from carrying sewing pins in my mouth. I’m embarrassingly competitive, though many may not realize unless consciously pitted against me. I am passionate about others with passion, and try my best to support other emerging artists.
I design with sustainability in mind, and a reoccurring influence of the 1960’s, focusing on their depiction of the future, as well has the music, art, and social movements that occurred during this era. I danced ballet for 15 years which also often influences my work.
My designs have been featured in Elle Italia, Women’s Wear Daily, Harpers Bazaar Vietnam, and featured on Fashion TV. Being that I certainly did not get to this point in my life without the help of others in my community financially and supportively, I feel very passionately about giving back to my community and hopefully helping others achieve their goals. Over the past 5 years I have contributed to over $20,000 being donated to various charity organizations, supporting a variety of causes.
When did your interest for fashion come about?
I’ve always been interested in fashion, when I was a baby my mom would dress me up and considered me her accessory. I sketched dresses as soon as I could hold a crayon, made them out of tissue paper when I was allowed to play with scissors, and began sewing my designs at the age of 8 when I entered into a 4-H sewing competition at my local county fair.
What sparked the beginning of you career/studies as a designer?
After a few years of competing in 4-H, I took my designs to a local boutique at the age of 12, and asked the owner to sell my work. To my surprise she said yes. I got my own sign on the wall and got a taste of business. (Most of my customers at the time were drag queens.) When I had just turned 13 I was asked to present in my local fashion week, Omaha Fashion Week, and have since then showcased my work in over 40 fashion shows around the United States, and represented America in the first ever fashion show on the Eiffel Tower in Paris at 17. I’ve continued to design under my own LLC- Kate Walz, and became the lead designer for Querencia Studio in 2016.
Who are the top three designers you’d like to work with?
I dreamed of working for Alexander McQueen himself, I’d love to learn from Issey Myake, and even though I’m not the most excited about the Patagonia style, I find their technologies and mission very inspiring.
Now, who are three designers—or trends—you think are overrated?
Any fast fashion brand, there are way too many options around fast fashion to justify buying disposable clothing at this point.
What about designing is more liberating than other artistic forms?
Sometimes it isn’t. Most of the time I hate the fashion industry and the problems that come with it. I design clothing because it is something that has to exist, it’s a necessity. I design clothing to hopefully compete with companies that are creating damaging work- weather that be through waste, unfair labor, sizing limitations, and overall lack of social and environmental responsibility.
That being said- in terms of art form I prefer to work 3-dimensionally. I like to work with my hands, I like to shape and mold and manipulate and test the boundaries of a material. I like being able to communicate through something wearable. I believe this is the most personal form of artistic communication because it is made to be worn against our bodies, and a conscious decision made everyday when we get dressed.
As a woman in the industry, what have your experiences been like?
Being in the business of fashion, it can sometimes be hard to get people to take me seriously. I know that fashion is most typically associated with women, and is also one of the most accepting industries out there, but I also have to work with individuals that are not in the fashion industry- and that is where I see the most disrespect because of my gender.
Have you ever had your clothes commercialized? If so, where can we buy your clothes?
Some of my personal designs are available through a company called Designow Studio, and my work with Querencia Studio can be purchased at querenciastudio.com You can see an archive of my previous collections at katewalz.com.
Describe your aesthetic in six words.
Space age futurism, whimsical, personal, researched.