The half-English, half-Danish designer has lived a nomadic life, to say the least. Following a childhood in Africa, Jones now splits his time between Paris, London and whichever far-flung corner of the globe he finds himself in at the time (he has been to Japan over 70 times in the past ten years alone). For a man that has been ricocheting across the world since he was born, it seems only fitting that our conversation should open with a lengthy discussion on long-haul flights, 4am check-in times, where he's just come from (Los Angeles) and where he's going next (Dubai).
A five-year tenure at the helm of Louis Vuitton menswear and cult-status collaborations with sportswear giant Nike have seen Artistic Director Kim Jones responsible for some of menswear’s most iconic moments in recent history. And it is perhaps his well-stamped passport that informs Jones' innate ability to make clothes that men everywhere want to wear. "I think people want the same things and get excited about the same things, especially with the digital age, so I look at [design] as global" he explains from Sydney's Vuitton HQ. "I look at culture, be it hill tribes in South East Asia, be it in Africa, be it in South America, be it anywhere in the world. I don't think of Vuitton as a French brand anymore because it's so global."
Jones' collections for Louis Vuitton read like the wardrobe of a modern sort of gent, someone who seamlessly absorbs his travel treasures into his sartorial lexicon: a Masai-inspired blanket scarf over sharp linen suiting, a crocodile skin trench worn with hiking sandals or an ostrich skin bomber jacket with windowpane check trousers.
His newest creations are currently available at the Louis Vuitton pop-up store in Sydney's Westfield City, a second collaboration with visual artists Jake and Dinos Chapman. "I wanted to do something that was a bit personal," Jones explained of his starting point for the collection. "I thought about what Africa means to me now; I've basically spent the most time in South Africa with a lot of young people that have grown up after Apartheid and they're all mixing together and doing really interesting things. So I wanted to celebrate that fact." Furthering his journey through the continent, the designer listed a book he found of native animals, crudely-drawn by explorers on a first visit to Cape Town. To that end, the capsule of Ready-to-Wear, bags and travel accoutrements are decorated with a playfully-rendered menagerie of rhinoceros, zebras, giraffes and lions laid out over the signature house monograms and racing stripes.
Though he is capturing something of a zeitgeist in menswear at the moment, (the SS17 collections of Gucci, Alexander McQueen and Dries Van Noten, among others, feature exotic and mythological animal motifs) Jones has long been a fan of our furriest friends. "I've always loved nature. It's very rare that I see an animal I don't know. I'm obsessed by marsupials and all the different weird and wonderful creatures that live in Australia," he explains, before rattling off a list of his favourite animals, their endangered status and, where applicable, the potency of their venom.
To that end, are we to expect a koala or quokka stamped onto the next Vuitton collection?
"Never say never."
Louis Vuitton Pop-Up Store
Westfield Sydney City, Level 3
Entrance via Castlereagh & Market Streets
Monday - Wednesday, Friday – Saturday: 9:30 am – 7 pm
Thursday: 9:30 am - 9 pm
Sunday: 10 am - 7 pm
Louis Vuitton Australia