Getty Images / Dior / Jacopo Raule

Kim Jones’ appointment as artistic director of Dior Men’s (previously Dior Homme) had fashion crowds buzzing. At Paris Fashion Week last month, the menswear virtuoso brought the storied French fashion house into the 21st century with a commissioned project by artist KAWS and rollercoaster-style utility buckles by 1017 ALYX 9SM‘s Matthew Williams on caps, bags, and satchels.

The SS19 show leveled the playing field for the house’s menswear range and evolved the designer’s penchant for luxury streetwear, engineered garments, soft tailoring, and floral shirts. You can read our review of his show here, but before you do, here are a few essential things to know about Kim Jones.

He loves to travel

Kim Jones was born in London but raised in Kenya, where his father worked as a hydrogeologist. Throughout his childhood, he also traveled through Ecuador, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Botswana, and continued this globetrotting sensibility into his adult life. He claims to have visited Japan “around 70 or 80 times.”

It’s appropriate, then, that he would one day find himself at Louis Vuitton, a brand famous for its iconic travel luggage.

Kim Jones’ peripatetic lifestyle and exposure to different cultures and animals were alluded to in a number of his designs at Louis Vuitton. Specifically, in safari shirts and exotic animal prints, but it was his SS18 menswear show that really encapsulated the designer’s love of travel, with a collection inspired by Judith Schalansky’s book Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Not Visited and Never Will. 

He’s a frequent collaborator

Kim Jones has a substantial history of collaborations, including one of the most pivotal collaborations of fashion history: Louis Vuitton x Supreme. Jones has worked with and for a number of brands: GU, Topman, Alexander McQueen, Mulberry, Alfred Dunhill, Hugo Boss, and Iceberg. He was even a consultant for Kanye West’s short-lived brand Pastelle.

His lauded Umbro by Kim Jones line highlights the designer’s instinct for the now ubiquitous mash-up of high fashion and sportswear.

Umbro by Kim Jones
Umbro x Kim Jones

One of Jones’ more obscure collaborations came in the form of Louis Vuitton x Drake, with LV using a new Drizzy single, “Signs,” as the soundtrack to its men’s Spring 2018 show. Speaking to Vogue before the show, Jones commented on how working with Drake came about: “Well, I sent a few pictures [from the collection] to Drake because he’s a big fan […] and then he wrote a song, which is going to be the music, which is kind of amazing! It’s really, really good. I think he’s probably releasing it as a single. Because he loved it, too.”

Listen to the track below.

He’s worked in art direction and styling

Getty Images / WPA Pool / Ian West

Kim Jones knows the industry inside out. As well a being a designer, he’s worked as a stylist and art director for Dazed & ConfusedArena Homme+, PopAnOtherT: The New York Times Style Magazine, 10 Men, V Mani-D, Numéro Homme, and Fantastic Man. This breadth of publications and brands, as well as his exhaustive travel itinerary, have made him one of the most well-connected people in the industry, with numerous celebrity friends and clients. He even designed the show-stealing morning suit David Beckham wore to the UK royal wedding back in May.

He’s a sneakerhead

As a collector of rare garms (he flipped a Vivienne Westwood bomber to finance his first collection) and vinyl, his collection of which he says is 6,000-strong, it’s no surprise to learn that Kim Jones is an ardent sneakerhead, too.

Speaking to Nice Kicks in 2016, he reflected on his early obsession: “I have about 500 or 600 pairs of sneakers in my archives, probably. I’ve got them in my house in London and just lots and lots of cupboards in Paris. I’ve got lots of Jordans and tons of pairs of Huaraches. When they first came out, I bought them in bulk because I loved them so much.”

Jones has even designed a range of sneakers himself, notably the Air Zoom WLP for his collaboration with NikeLab in 2016, a modern take on the original 1995 model.

The Nike Air Zoom WLP
Highsnobiety / Eva Al Desnudo

He pioneered the merge of streetwear and high fashion

While streetwear’s presence in the luxury fashion sphere might seem normal these days, it hasn’t always been the case. But Kim Jones was one of the first designers to preempt the merge. It wasn’t totally out of the blue, though. The designer told Naomi Campbell in an interview that one of his first jobs was unpacking Supreme boxes for Michael Kopelman’s store Gimme 5, one of the first London stores to import Supreme from the United States.

For Louis Vuitton’s FW17 collection, the designer collaborated with Supreme, sending shockwaves through both the fashion and streetwear community. The line sold out and divided opinion online. You can check out what industry insiders were saying here.

For his Dior debut in Paris, Jones centered his show around a KAWS BFF statue made using 7,000 flowers. It was hugely symbolic gesture of the fashion industry’s adoption of streetwear and its key figures. It would have been very hard to explain to someone just 5 years ago why KAWS was even being mentioned at Paris Fashion Week, let alone being commissioned by Dior to contribute to its new collection. But that’s the influence of Kim Jones.

Highsnobiety / Eva Al Desnudo

In other style news, New York City legend Mordechai Rubinstein joins Highsnobiety on latest episode of The Dropcast.

Words by Max Grobe
Associate Fashion Editor
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