KARA Unveils Pride Campaign with Drag Artists Dynasty and Panthera Lush

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NYC-based accessory brand KARA is unveiling its celebratory Pride Month campaign in a CR exclusive.

Founded by Chinese American designer Sarah Law in 2013, KARA celebrates individuality. Her personal journey of growing up biracial within an international community in Hong Kong has inspired the brand’s ethos in highlighting “the multifaceted individual” and “that as a community, we also manifest a spectrum.”

The name KARA comes from “karaoke,” which translates to “empty orchestra” in Japanese. Law ‘s intrigued by the idea of a vacant space where one can freely express themselves creatively, and so her designs are meant to serve as a blank canvas for the wearer to project any and every imagination of themselves upon.

“Someone writes the music and you sing it your way,” says Law. “Each piece is designed to be incorporated into a person’s life however it suits them best.”

The brand introduced the series KARAyouBEyou in 2016 to showcase creative and unique forms of expression by inviting individuals from around the world to document themselves in KARA pieces. This month, KARA unveils its Pride edition of KARAyouBEyou, featuring Asian American Drag Artist Dynasty and Panthera Lush in conversation and performance addressing their unique relationship to drag and queer communities through the lens of Asian American identity and vice versa.

They wear pieces from KARA’s collection of wearable accessories including a Visor, Vest, Skirt, Bra, Crystal Fringe Bike Wallet, Camera bag, and Gym bag, made in signature KARA Crystal Mesh, in White and Hematite — all of which play with the line between a garment and a bag.

“I began this exploration of the line between a garment and a bag a few years ago when I started to think about the definition of a bag – is a bag just to hold things or can it have another purpose? Is it something that’s carried or can it be worn?” says Law. “I am intrigued by the space where identity is not so clear, not just one thing.”

For Drag Artist Dynasty, also known for his fashion news writing at The Cut as Andrew Nguyen, growing up in Missouri in a conservative Catholic family, raised by Vietnamese immigrants, has illuminated identity in his life. “A lot of my family wears cowboy hats, and lives on farms. It’s just wild, you know, like, you don’t think about an Asian person like that,” said Dynasty.

    He shares he is now in the process of reclamation by finding community with people of similar backgrounds who are queer and trans, and people of color.

    “I’m reconciling all of these different parts of me. And just accepting them as one identity, you know, like, you think just because you’re queer, you have to like certain things, or look a certain way, or listen to certain music, but that’s not true at all.”

    Panthera Lush, the vision of designer and visual artist Alika Hall, believes drag is one of the best ways for people to explore themselves, where they can use it as a template to inject into and embrace their many different expressions of identity or personal style freely.

    “It’s important to recognize those things about yourself. Because it kind of opens you up to be more limitless and more free with what you’re presenting to the world,” said Lush.

      “It’s just like getting dressed. You always make your own decisions about how you present yourself everyday. And I think that drag is exactly the same – it should be personal, and it should be yours, you own it, and you can nurture it, and you can take it in so many different directions, but it’s always yours.”

      KARA stands to represent a spectrum and Law acknowledges the queer and POC communities who have led the way.

      “In the past, cultural conversations and media representation of these groups has been extremely flat and singular, often stripping away identity,” she says. “I am so inspired by how queer and poc individuals have powerfully used their voices and platforms to change our wider perceptions of identity. In many ways it’s their actions that have started the cultural conversation to reexamine and express identity with nuance and flexibility.

      Watch the entire series on karastore.com.

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