Meet Harikrishnan, the brains behind the latex inflatable trouser. Harikrishnans balloon-like sculpture enters the realm of serious art. We connected with the emerging designer where he shared all about his design process and his thoughts on our favorite material-latex.
“Most of my thought process depends on my Visual Consumption.”
VEX: Can you provide a short bio of your background in fashion?
I am 26 yrs old. from Kerala, one of the southern states of India. Growing up I was influenced by my dad's (amateur artist back then) life drawing collection, and always tried to replicate them. I was very interested in anatomical drawings. I went on to attend the National Institute of Fashion Technology before assisting the 2015 International Woolmark Prize winner, Menswear designer- Suket Dhir. I am currently in London, I just finished my Masters in Menswear Design from the London College of Fashion.
Also, I am a latex farmer myself. We have a small rubber plantation back home in Kerala with around 600 trees. So when home, I am a part-time plantation worker.
VEX: What memories stand out from that first internship in the world of latex or fashion?
I was introduced to latex last September. As a result of my research then, I was looking for a fabric that could accommodate dynamic proportions and decided to use latex. Until then I have never used or experienced latex in my creative journey. However, the construction didn't seem easy and therefore to learn the construction and to experience the material I had to go to fetish shops across London. I still remember that day. I planned to visit all sex shops across London, and I managed to cover all of them in a day. It was funny because the sales staff all had the same expression when I walked in. I introduce myself as a "post-graduate student from LCF here for research" and they go ``What kind of research here? with a weird smile.
VEX: Do you wear latex? Yes, I made a shirt for myself from the leftover sheets from the last collection
VEX: At what point did you decide to take your interest in latex and transition it to a vocation?
I still haven't decided to commercialize my designs. However, I love working with latex. I have a "makers mindset". I love new materials and crafting things especially with hands. That something I enjoy doing 100% and would love to take this forward to a vocation.
VEX: Latex can be described as a “Fetish,” a “kink,” “Alternative fashion” or simply “fashion” Do you prefer one description over another?
As a designer, I simply see latex as a medium of communication. It has a lot of connotations as a statement material. However, my challenge with this project was to not get involved in any of these connotations and give a new one to it. I believe to an extent I was successful in doing so. A lot of people who saw my collection still don't know the trousers are made of latex.
VEX: Does it bother you that for the general public, latex clothing seems to be either associated with an attention-seeking celebrity or “weird sex fetish”?
No, it doesn't bother me. I see infinite possibilities. If they see it as attention-seeking, that is actually a possibility. It is my job as a designer to bend it in the way I want to project.
VEX: It seems many latex outfits are designed to be body-hugging. I’ve heard latex referred to as a “Second Skin.” Do you agree that latex should be used for tight outfits or does it lend itself to “loose” outfits?
For me what makes latex is the hand feeling and the shine. It doesn't matter if it's loose or tight. In my recent collection, I was pushing limits with latex in terms of elasticity and shine. I personally would love to design a few loose outfits with latex for men.
VEX: What is your favorite piece of latex that you’ve created in your career for a man and a woman? My red and white cane candy inflatables are one of my favorite trousers. It was a last-minute addition to the collection, the pattern was made in 15 mins and to my surprise, it came out to be distinctive and the white stripes were a last-minute addition, I think an hour before my runway presentation.
VEX: What is your design philosophy? What drives your creativity?
I believe in the power of imagery. This is a speculative approach in the context of fashion to critique the current proportions and visualizations. Out of all the senses, visual perception is the key to understanding, information transfer, and memory. Most of my thought process depends on my visual consumption. As I live in an era where I am visually exposed to what is more than required, I often find myself in a state of visual neutrality and dilution. Especially in fashion, I see the same images, similar proportions everywhere. If this is the case my thoughts are going to be one dimensional and mundane. The way we see the body completely depends on " from" where we see the body. Like the Venus of Willendorf, sculpted by looking down on herself. That way of looking at oneself changes the way we perceive ourselves.