April 8, 2019 / 10:30 pm

WIUX But Make It Fashun: ktfaithful

Welcome back to the third installment of WIUX but Make It Fashun with Nick Comer! I’m back with another campus fashion icon, who you may have heard the name of a lot recently – unless you’ve been living under a rock (or have questionable taste in music that is). Like last time, we’ve also collaborated on a playlist inspired by this student and her style.

If you’re excited for Culture Shock, smash that share button! With Saba, Lala Lala, SHAED, Black Belt Eagle Scout, and so many more amazing artists (that you can find out more about here) on the lineup, it’s basically destined to be a great one. And not to mention, this year’s lineup also includes the mad talented Bloomington local, ktfaithful. If you haven’t heard ktfaithful’s new EP yet, my best advice is to get on that. You can dance and cry to it; and if that isn’t the college experience, then I don’t know what is.

These past two plus months, I have been collaborating with some incredible WIUX directors, models, and artists to create a dope, fashion-based promo for Culture Shock 2019. There has been a lot of thought, sweat, time, and just a touch of blood put into it. Certainly, be sure to be on the lookout for the Culture Shock 2019 Lookbook! It revolves around the subversion of many aspects of the American life we live by way of the biggest trends on the Spring/Summer 2019 runways. There’s a strong focus on things we find important here at WIUX: representation, diversity, and some sick outfits you can stun with at Culture Shock.

We hope you find inspiration for your Culture Shock look or even buy a ‘fit you love, so you can be certain you’re coming to stunt! Finally, we hope you find it just as engaging and thought-provoking as we did while creating it. So, if you’re not sure what you’re wearing to Culture Shock yet… well, we have you covered. Literally.

I recently sat down and talked about fashion with this skilled and stylish IU junior and member of the official Culture Shock 2019 lineup.

We’ve all heard that you should dress for the job you want, but for Katie Faith O’Neill, or ktfaithful, that’s a little more liberating than a mandatory Kelley suit. My WIUX B-Side co-host and ktfaithful have been friends for a while now, and I’ve never heard the end of how great she or her music is—and my co-host certainly isn’t wrong. I had met ktfaithful once previously in passing while I chatted with another mutual friend of ours. Right off the bat, she complimented my outfit (which always makes my day), so not only is she talented, but also noticeably and selflessly warm. Ever since my co-host loaded up ktfaithful’s song “In My Head” on our show I was hooked.

“In My Head” simultaneously hurts my feelings like no other, but also makes me feel warm and like I just want to dance. When ktfaithful agreed to sit down for a chat with me at the Soma on 3rd street, I was overjoyed. However, I also couldn’t help but be a bit nervous about an interview with one of the Culture Shock artists, but within moments of meeting her, we had clicked over fashion, creativity, and of course, Charli XCX.

Photo by Claire Frisbie

Nick Comer: First of all, I want to say thanks so much for sitting down with me for this! I appreciate it a lot. You have such a dope sense of style. It’s something both Amanda [my WIUX B-Side co-host] and I have taken time to admire.

ktfaithful: No problem, I wanted to! It sounds fun! It helps that I know Amanda and a lot of people with WIUX, so if I had said “no” I would’ve felt so mean (laughs). I wanted to do it anyway.

NC: Not to mention, I am so excited to see your set at Culture Shock. Do you have an outfit picked out?

ktfaithful: Thank you! Right now I’ve been going back and forth with a couple of outfits, but I don’t even have an outfit in mind, I just think of a specific clothing item I want to wear and then I’ll go from there. To tell you the truth, I really don’t know yet but I’ll try to make it pleasing to the eye (laughs). I’m trying to go for something more chill and not over the top because I’m definitely not a “Lady Gaga type” in the way I represent myself. Something like my usual look, but just a little more exaggerated. I don’t want to be super extra, but I’m definitely going for platform shoes because I’m 4’11” so…

NC: If you wanted to go over the top this would be the moment to do it.

ktfaithful: True, true. But I’m not an over the top person anyway. I like to dress a bit wild sometimes, but I think I want to represent myself as myself the first time, or maybe a more outgoing version. The ktfaithful version versus the Katie version.

NC: When did you first get into fashion? Why? And how do you feel your style has progressed or changed since then?

ktfaithful: To begin with, definitely my mom. My mom has always been really big into shopping. We would go shopping all the time; and not always buy stuff, but just go window shopping to stare and be like “that’s so cute!” And I’ve always been a more creative person, so I’ve always enjoyed any way I could express myself creatively. I think for that, clothing is an obvious choice, so I kind of just gravitated toward clothes because I wanted people to see that side of me. But my style has definitely evolved, because I used to wear stuff that could be considered kind of corny. I would wear Christmas bows in my hair during December or I would wear dresses with buildings painted on them. I had the intention to be weird when I was little. I wanted people to think “what are you wearing?”, but now I’ve definitely settled down.

NC: So then you feel like fashion is an extension of self-expression?

ktfaithful: Definitely, because if I didn’t have a certain style I feel I would be overlooked. I feel like I need to spice it up to show people who I really am: not just leggings and a sweatshirt – which I do all the time, but you can’t grasp my personality through that outfit. It’s your intuition that tells you someone’s personality by their clothes.

NC: You feel that the way you dress affects the way people perceive you?

ktfaithful: I’ve had people assume things about me and just come up to me and talk to me about something with the assumption that I will agree with them just based on their perception of me and believe in the same things as them because I replicate a style that they relate to. But on the other hand, when people do catch my vibe correctly it’s really nice because I feel understood by them. And I feel comfortable that they get me and understand what I’m doing and see my vision of who I’m trying to be as a person.

NC: In that same vein do you feel fashion is important in regards to self-expression, validation, self-perception, and confidence?

ktfaithful: You could be a person who doesn’t like fashion, so if you wanted to express yourself through fashion then you wouldn’t. Does that make sense? It’s up to every person to wear what they want, so wear what you want and people will see a more authentic side of yourself. If you try to force a certain style it can come off as slightly phony, not to say you can’t take inspiration from others or try new things, but be yourself. I can tell if someone isn’t dressing like themselves, but if you dressed like yourself then you would shine through, you know? It depends if you’re into fashion or not. You can’t just assume everyone cares about clothes. If someone throws on clothes in the dark that’s a fashion statement on its own.

NC: So then could you detail to me a little about how you would describe your personal style?

ktfaithful: My favorite mainstream store is Urban Outfitters – I feel a lot of people love that store. I would go all the time in high school and gather inspiration. That’s probably when I started to develop my own style because in middle school I wore uniforms, but in high school, I was beginning to socialize on the weekends so I began experimenting with it. Now, I tend to go with thrift stores. Maybe I’ll see something in a store or online and try to find something similar to it in a thrift store. But the type of clothes I gravitate towards usually have weird shapes and patterns, and then pairing it with blocked colors. I particularly pay attention to the way things are cut; like square shaped or boxy. I’ll cut up my sweatshirts a lot and change the way it flows on my body because I like unique silhouettes. I’m never really concerned about accentuating my figure, I just want it to look unique. It’s never too over the top though, comfort is my number one priority; if something’s not comfortable then I’m not going to wear it. That usually cuts out a lot of really over-the-top things for me, so I don’t dress like that normally.

NC: That’s a really great answer. Usually, I would probably get something like “I like high fashion mixed with streetwear.” But right there you gave me: I like cool patterns and unique silhouettes. It makes you harder to pin down, which honestly, is great. Does your work as a musician and singer-songwriter play into your fashion choices?

ktfaithful: I definitely take the aesthetic of the people who I follow in the music industry into consideration. When you’re an artist you have to kind of create a brand, it’s like dressing for a job. If you’re in Kelley you’re going to wear a tuxedo (laughs). No, not a tuxedo – a suit – but if you wore a tuxedo that would be cool, though. Now I’m just accentuating the style I already have and upping it a little bit for when I perform. But even if I didn’t make music I feel as though my style would be pretty similar, but it definitely enhances my style because it pushes me to be more creative and out there so it matches the vibe that I’m going for in my music.

Photo by Evan Oak

NC: You mentioned that as an artist you have to brand yourself with a style. How would you identify your brand as an artist? In one sentence?

ktfaithful: I want my style to intrigue people, but not scare the general public like “you’re weird, I don’t understand your style” but at the same time be like “that’s kind of different, I respect it.” I want it to be easy-going.

NC: You want something thought-provoking, but palatable?

ktfaithful: Exactly! I don’t know who is listening to my music, so I think it is important for anyone to be able to relate to my music in any type of way. Even if they don’t get the message I’m trying to say. I want them to feel comfortable and relate to what I’m saying. I just want my brand to be “you are my friend.”

NC: You also said you look at the musicians that you do follow, so then who are some of your fashion inspirations in the music industry? Why?

ktfaithful: I really love Charli XCX. She is such a bad bitch, I love her.

As a huge Charli XCX fan, I kind of gasped here.

ktfaithful: I had a feeling you would like her (laughs). Her style is so amazing. It’s like party girl – obviously, she loves to party – and pink, flirty, cute, and frilly. She’s like “party” and glitter and, trust me, I love glitter. I also love Marina and the Diamonds – she’s my favorite artist. She dresses more classy, very clean-cut and simplistic. I like that. But Charli is like “party” and glitter and I love glitter. So I like combining both of those things, clean but fun.

NC: If your music was a person how would they dress?

ktfaithful: What I’m imagining right now is a light pink and lots of tulle; I love see-through fabric. Platform shoes. Definitely glitter. Tule mostly on the sleeves, I really love flowy stuff. Probably a really flowy outfit. Carefree, bubbly, and… the personification of a champagne bottle popping. Oh! Definitely piercings; nose, ears, just a couple, but definitely piercings. And it’s all just one solid color, maybe with pops of color with blue earrings or something.

NC: I do always ask a fashion business question, so please bear with me. Again, it’s so great to have a Culture Shock artist on my column, because I’ve been working on a fashion-oriented promotional project for Culture Shock. It’s focused on S/S 2019 trends you can wear to Culture Shock, but includes a heavy element of diversity and subversion of norms. We’re seeing runways become increasingly more diverse, but ultimately not really diverse enough. There’s still a big push for more diversity, more transgender models, more models of color. Something that made some waves recently, was Adut Akech, a 19 year old Sudanese-Australian woman of color, winning Model of the Year (2018) over Gigi Hadid who was kind of expected to win. So, how do you feel representation within the fashion world matters? Or how could it improve or what is it doing great?

ktfaithful: Right now, I think the great part of the fashion world is that it is including more people who look more like the everyday person. Even with just social media being a tool for brands to use and reach out to content creators that were self-made on social media doing fashion is more relatable to me than seeing a 6 foot 2 model, because I’ve never seen a 4’11” model. Not that short or tall is super diverse or divisive, but even that matters. I definitely think [Adut Akech winning] is a step forward from the past. Many people would have just overlooked it if Gigi won and probably just move on from it super-fast, but this brings it to the forefront. I do definitely think we should cater to every type of person and not put people in boxes. We should have clothes be able to be worn by literally any person and not just be shown on one type of body shape. I’d love to see a runway show showcase an outfit on three different people back to back – that would be so interesting – but instead, I’m only seeing this outfit on one body type or skin color and it’s not giving me the full effect of what clothes should be. Clothes should be: someone sees an item and they make it into whatever they want it to be to express themselves.

NC: That’s awesome. Basically, it’s as if clothing is your tool, and if you don’t see yourself on the runways or on fashion magazines, those kinds of things, then how are you going to effectively use these tools to make yourself “you”?

ktfaithful: Exactly!

NC: Final question, as a student here at IU, who is very genuine from your style to your music to your personality, what kind of advice could share for other students regarding individuality and expression through all aspects?

ktfaithful: College definitely is the place and time to just wear whatever you want because you’re never going to see the people you don’t want to see as opposed to high school. You can walk around and no one knows who you are. If you want to start testing out styles and stuff, then just wear it to class and see how you feel, the next day wear something else, and keep with trial and error until you feel comfortable in something. You don’t even have to overthink it, just let it happen.

Photo by Claire Frisbie

Essential accessory?

Pants as a statement piece of outfits. My boyfriend and I have the sickest pant game!

Favorite brand?

Dolls Kill.

Favorite fashion house?

Burberry. My one goal in life is to walk in like a Burberry trench coat in a big city.

Festival looks: hippie modernism or alternative chic?

Alternative Chic

Favorite red carpet look of all time?

Rihanna’s giant pink dress for the 2015 Grammys (wearing Giambattista Valli). She has the best body, but decided to cover it all up. That kind of stuff is what I love about fashion: do what nobody expects you to do.

Photo by Claire Frisbie

Find more from ktfaithful on Instagram and Twitter. Plus, catch her music everywhere AND on stage at Culture Shock 2019 at 12:00 pm on April 20th!