Denim is a wardrobe staple, there’s no denying that. Whether as jeans or a jacket, intact or distressed, it’s an iconic textile that the fashion world will continue to reinvent. Who would know that better than Kealan Sullivan of 69 Vintage? An avid collector and enthusiast, Sullivan’s collections spans decades. It’s no surprise that she chose denim as a medium for expression in her runway collection entitled “Wild Child” which debuted at Fashion Art Toronto last year.
In part one of my interview we discussed her fashion background, the success of her long-running vintage store, her passion for human connections, and her journey to finding confidence. Now in part two we’ll discuss her designs, her inspirations, and what’s next for the self-described “OG wild child”.
LoveMirian: How did the “Wild Child” collection come about?
Kealan Sullivan: I was working very closely with fashion designer Evan Biddell in my studio when he decided he wanted to do a 69 Vintage collection. Then I ended up getting very sick and had to have an operation. When I healed and came back to the studio, he had all these other projects going on and he said, “You gotta finish this collection or it isn’t coming out.” So I said, “I’m in.” I knew I wanted to work with denim and I had the shapes in my head so I just started cutting things and putting them together. I built that collection in three days. The vision was there. The music was there. I knew what kind of girls I wanted. It was very seamless and inspiring.
Why did you choose denim as a staple of the collection?
Denim chose me. Any who knows me knows that my denim collection didn’t start two years ago. I have photos from 2003 when I first opened the shop. I had racks and racks and racks, a whole wall of denim from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s. That was a huge passion of mine the whole time. I’ve kept every pair of jeans I’ve ever worn. So I started looking at that stuff and I thought, ‘this is what inspires me.’ I’m not going to try to figure out what to design, I’m just gonna work with these materials. I started bleaching it all, opening it into squares, opening up pants. And I only did about 10% of the ideas, they don’t stop.
What inspires you?
People inspire me. I’ve always been like that. Not everybody has the ability to connect with people on a deeper level so because I have that and enjoy it so much, I’m inspired. I meet incredible human beings all the time and I’m inspired by how quickly they’re able to share their stories. How they dress. What their thoughts are. How they live. What they choose. What they’re afraid of. That, to me, is the biggest wonderment of all.
What advice would you give young women given your own life experiences?
I would tell them to find someone that can mentor them and to ask for that. That’s something I never did and I wish I did. There’s a lot of people that have a lot of information and a lot to offer. But they don’t know who you are and they’re not gonna come find you. They’re busy, they’ve got companies to run and they’ve got children. But if you try and you really believe that what you have in mind is valuable and you want to be successful, I would say find a mentor.
I’ve been asking myself that a lot. I try not to worry about that question. I ask it so the answers will drop in. And what’s been coming up a lot is working with people. Creating connections, living a lot more of a creative life so each day is an experiment for me. What can I do to make something a little more interesting with my own hands and mind? And then maybe I might even get a job. *Laugh* Not to sound arrogant but I honestly think there’s companies out there that need me. So I wanna find a mentor and develop my skills a little bit more so that I can have the confidence to go to them and say, “You need me.”
And there you have it! An in-depth look into the world of Kealan Sullivan. She is an inspiration to many creative souls in Toronto who know her work and aspire for similar success. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to share her story with you and hope it sparked something in you how it did for me Stay wild 🙂