Fit to Live | Kelcey Nicole Vossen
Just last week our Instagram account was tagged in this photo below. This was cool to see, because I had never seen our jeans in this sort of artistic setting. The Olé 306’s were paired with Ray-Ban shades, a Burberry jacket and wings + horns sneakers. This was a freehand drawing of her brother Paul and his pal Russ. I touched based with Kelcey to see if she could share her photo, thoughts and story with us. Keep scrolling to check out our little interview with her.
Tell us more about yourself and what inspires your fashion illustrations?
I was born and raised in Winnipeg but have always aspired to branch out and move to a big city – I especially love the energy of the US. Prior to graduating high school, I had looked into the Communications program at Ryerson University in Toronto but the timing was just not right; in addition, the fashion industry in Canada in 2007 was only just beginning to develop and it would prove difficult to find a “place” within it.
In late 2013 I was presented with the opportunity of studying marketing at Parsons The New School in New York. I moved to Manhattan the following summer, completed the program and subsequently acquired a position within Hearst Corporation. I have no formal training in art but decided to start sketching caricatures in my free time; ultimately, as a relaxing hobby. I began casually posting little caricature sketches to Instagram in mid-2015 and to my surprise, watched it grow exponentially especially after receiving interest from ELLE Canada, Vogue.com, NYC fashion influencers, and celebrities such as Drew Barrymore (for Flower Beauty) and Rihanna.
I absolutely love fashion editorials, well curated art collections, fashion marketing campaigns, and fashion editorials – these spheres tend to provide ample material for illustration inspiration. I also receive messages from followers suggesting I sketch certain media influencers or fashion bloggers; I always reserve time to fulfill these requests.
I know you are from the Canadian prairies, what drew you to move to New York City?
I will always be Canadian at heart, but moving to New York was one of the best and most exciting decisions I have ever made. The city is truly the epicenter of the creative arts and has provided me with so many opportunities for networking and positioning myself. I live along the West Side Highway in the art district neighbourhood of Chelsea; there are art galleries, boutiques, the HighLine elevated park, and Meatpacking District just steps away. Even after almost two years, it doesn’t seem real – I would recommend a similar move to anyone trying to break into the industry, even if only for a temporary stint.
Based on your Instagram photos, I can see that you’re into a wide range of women’s and men’s fashion from Mr. Porter looks to The Weeknd in Yeezy Boosts. In terms of styling, how do you like seeing our Olé 306’s styled?
I love the versatility of Olé 306; denim is innately a casual textile but the careful attention to construction and detailing, coupled with careful brand positioning, ultimately elevates Olé 306 products. I certainly see them outfitted alongside luxury brands such as Burberry and Maison Margiela. I recently purchased my brother Lanvin leather and suede sneakers and can see him pairing them together. For a more casual and local vibe, I would personally suggest styling Olé with brands such as Club Monaco, Oak + Oar, or even Saturday’s Surf NYC (an Australian brand recently brought to New York and which specializes in quality lifestyle clothing – you can find them at saturdaysnyc.com).
Our slogan is “Fit to Live” (a (wo)man who won’t die for something is not fit to live – MLK Jr.), what does this mean to you and the life you live?
That is quite a powerful statement. I personally interpret the message as having a conviction and developing the courage to support it. I absolutely feel this applies to my own life, perhaps not in my early twenties but undoubtedly now. Many people are afraid to follow their dreams and live their goals for fear of risk or failure; a few years ago, I did things that frightened me – changing career perspective, eliminating toxic relationships, moving to a new country – because I needed to get closer to me. I feel perhaps this is the fundamental philosophy behind the brand: living the life you truly want and living it with conviction – and Olé is there to support along the way.
Do you have any last words for the readers?
I often receive emails from would-be artists, asking me how best to get into illustration. My advice: just do it! You have nothing to lose – except perhaps for leaving yourself open to critics on a very public stage – but in the end, it can be a truly exciting journey. It will also help you develop an artistic style and voice, if only you commit to start. I debated for ages beginning this illustration endeavor, mostly because I was nervous friends would find it odd. But those who truly care will support you in it, regardless of the type of personal or professional venture, and those are the opinions which matter most. And who knows, it may even develop to become lucrative along the way!
x, Kelcey Vossen