Sean Kyah Koons is making a name for himself in an eco-friendly manner within the fashion industry. As the son of artists Jeff and Justine Koons, the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree and he is now venturing out creating his unique projects. Through music, art, and entertainment, most artists share their objective lens to inspire others. Sean is no exception and is actively taking action to ensure his philanthropic work weaves into his art and design. Sean spent some time with MOOD to discuss his paintings, design work, and how his company, Public, helps out people in need.
Sean wears Marcell Von Berlin
MOOD: Hey Sean, thanks for spending some time with us. You are currently taking classes and studying Economics at the University of Chicago. How do you hope to tie in your studies with all the projects you have coming up?
Sean Koons: I think economics is a really great subject and a good starting point for a lot of things. It’s giving me a solid base that allows me to jump into multiple careers. Right now, I’m studying at The University of Chicago, which is one of the best schools to attend for Economics, so I hope it’s going to help me when it comes to learning the fundamentals of starting a brand and pushing it, as well as joining other teams and other projects.
MOOD: You and Kailand Morris have been working together through the guidance and mentorship of Kanye West on various projects. What have you learned through working closely with Kanye and what valuable life lessons have you experienced?
Sean Koons: Well first, working with Kanye, Kailand, KOM, and a bunch of other people and projects all started through the creative genius of my manager the great Mr. Onthemove Shawn Mann, and I appreciate everything he’s done for me. Thank you, Shawn. He and I are going to be coming into 2021 with a lot more projects and interesting things for everyone. But when it comes to working with Kanye, it's a lot of seeing someone else's dream and vision, and adapting your style in finding ways to create that. Kanye is a genius, a great advisor, and he is very particular about what he wants. So, it's great to be able to work with someone who is very clear about things but gives you the creative freedom to do your own thing and help them at the same time.
MOOD: Speaking of upcoming projects, you have been working on your label, Public Sean Koons. Through Public, you will be donating portions of its net profit to provide clean water in countries in need. Talk to us more about your label, and the reasoning behind picking out a specific cause to donate to.
Sean Koons: I started the label my senior year of high school because I just wanted a creative outlet. I always liked designing clothes and I always looked up to people like Virgil Abloh and Heron Preston. When I was a senior, I thought to myself ‘you know what, I'm just going to try to make my own art and put it onto shirts and design hoodies, t-shirts, socks, and whatever. The brand is for my friends,’ and that's how it started. Then I was sitting and thinking about what else I could do. If I was going to go through with it, I was going to give back. I grew up visiting family in South Africa, as well as going to other different parts of Africa. While traveling around those areas, I was seeing how water is so critical and crucial to some people. I thought that it would be perfect to donate some profits to the organization, charity: water, to help out people in need.
MOOD: The way you have tied in fashion with humanitarian work seems to be where the future is heading. You are not only creating a label but are setting an example to the modern world that we need to be more conscious of global crises that lots of people are ignoring. Will your label have sustainability in mind?
Sean Koons: Yeah. Right now we've even started an up-and-coming collaboration with Will&Rich. We've chosen to make those clothing pieces as sustainably as we possibly can. I'm a big advocate of global warming and I really want to help this planet and our people when it comes to it. I believe that the world is dying slowly and if I'm going to do something, I want to make sure I'm not harming the planet in any way. So, for up-and-coming projects, it's very hands-on. I'm definitely planning on being sustainable and eco-friendly for future projects.
MOOD: On top of Public, you are also working on KOM Worldwide. We know that KOM Worldwide focuses on eco-friendliness and sustainability when it comes to fashion, but can you tell us more about the mission you hope to achieve through the company?
Sean Koons: People who work in KOM, Kailand, myself, Kate, Shawn- a bunch of our friends- make sure it is a great way for us to be sustainable and eco-friendly. But also, it's a creative outlet that was created because we're all creative people and we wanted to work together and push our mission of being eco-friendly and sustainable through fashion. It also comes from the idea that we're creators and this is what we do- we create and make fashionable objects.
MOOD: In terms of art you come from a family full of artists and you're also a painter. What words of advice and experiences coming from your parents have been the most influential in your life?
Sean Koons: There's never been any direct advice from my parents. The advice comes through living with them and being present. If anything, I’ve learned from both of them from being artists. When it comes to the creative side, it is important to know how your mind works to pursue things that make you a creative person- as well as knowing self-appreciation when it comes to your art. No matter what people say, your art is a way of expressing how you feel. It's the way that you portray whatever you want to portray. Who cares what other people say; they're going to be rude and dismissive about it. It's your art and art is supposed to be fun. This will always happen in life; you just can't listen to it.
Sean wears fear of god exclusively for Ermenegildo Zegna blazer, with Balenciaga trousers, and Saint Laurent striped tee provided by FWRD.
Sean wears Marcell Von Berlin, with Amiri sneakers.
MOOD: You grew up around fashion and all your life and you've been around many influential people. How has that shaped your art and your philanthropy when you're creating work?
Sean Koons: When some people run companies, they’ll have a specific cause in mind they’ll want to contribute to. Kailand, for example, has an eco-friendly cause and he donates his shirts to people in Watts. And he really tries to help out the community. A lot of different people in my life have not done the same thing, but had the same approach and the same goal. In a way, that shaped the reason why I wanted to add this donation aspect to the public. Growing up my dad has always been really philanthropic. He has also influenced me through the different causes that he's engaged in.
MOOD: When you create your paintings or any type of design, what or who typically evokes the inspiration that channels into your work?
Sean Koons: Over the summer while in quarantine I started a new collection of paintings which are stemmed from music. When I was sitting outside and I put on my headphones, I was listening to Since I've Been Loving You by Led Zeppelin. I was making my hands move, my body move, and I thought “Oh this would be great if I was able to focus these strokes that my hand was doing into a painting and create something.” So, I got a four-foot by five-foot canvas with a base color of blue and then just used different colors for different instruments using different stroke patterns for the different ways that the music was trying to make me feel. Then I created several collections. I did a few pieces for that collection with different songs. I did Tangerine by Led Zeppelin, Arrow Through Me by The Wings, and a couple of other songs. When it comes to the more general kind of art and design that I create, whether it's public or personal, I think my inspiration is the people around me. Even ‘Since I've Been Loving You’ is influenced by my dad. Led Zeppelin is his favorite band and always has been, and I grew up listening to that music and that song. When it comes to my public art, I'm creating that with my team with the way they push me to think about different things.
MOOD: Would you say that music has always been the main inspiration for your work since early on?
Sean Koons: Well, my best friends and I would come to my house and we'd just make a song for fun and just speak what we had to say. I guess we would just rap about random stuff on a beat that we made. Or I'll make music by myself in my house. But I always listen to music to calm me down. Whether I'm walking to the park or I'm walking to a friend's house or traveling in the car, I'm going to always have my headphones with me.
MOOD: You mentioned that during the summer you spent some time on your own and you took the time to create these pieces of art. Now that everybody is forced to quarantine, what have you learned about yourself and humanity this past year since the outbreak of Covid-19?
Sean Koons: Towards the end of the year I learned a lot about what it's like to be an individual and prioritize your passions, but at the same time simultaneously feeding someone else's passions. It’s important to focus on yourself. It really showed me what I'm capable of doing. It showed me how painting felt as I was just talking about when it comes to painting music. As well as showing me how fostering a passion can be such as DJing, which is something I love to do by creating mixes in my house.
MOOD: How do you plan to use your voice and your platform to raise awareness on current world topics?
Sean Koons: I'm hoping to do that through that initiative of being eco-friendly and sustainable. Someone I look up to when it comes to the fashion world is Heron Preston, who is doing phenomenal things right now with 3d printing. His platform really shows the efforts he's trying to raise. His platform also really shows that he's trying to raise awareness about our planet and how we have to start caring about it more through fashion and through these things that are mass-produced. If we don't care then our world is going to collapse. I don't want to copy Heron, but I really look up to the way that he's approaching the fashion world. And I would hope to make it very clear that is what Public and KOM are all about eco-friendliness.
We really care about our planet, we don't want to be doing things that are going to destroy it, all while providing people with cool clothes.
MOOD: Lastly, what can we expect from you in 2021? Do you have any big projects coming up early in the year?
Sean Koons: I believe the project with Will&Rich is going to come out soon which is going to be fantastic. Hopefully, you'll see some cool people involved wearing those pieces. There's just a lot of unexpected things, I think. Things that just come up and happen that people won't expect which is going to be great.
Sean wears a full FW20 Iceberg look
Sean wears a full FW20 Valentino look.
Sean wears a Teddy Von Ranson look with Amiri sneakers.
Photography: Anthony Giovanni
Fashion: Edwin J. Ortega
Grooming: Nathaniel Dezan