LSU student combines culture and clothing, making appearances in fashion shows in Louisiana and New York City | Entertainment

LSU student combines culture and clothing, making appearances in fashion shows in Louisiana and New York City | Entertainment

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LSU student takes inspiration from other cultures to create his runway outfits.

Kei Ai, a fashion community leader, is familiar with Apparel Designer Kaleb D. Duncan. His alias is derived from the phonetic spellings of his middle and first initials. “serves as a fragmentation”As a designer, he is himself.

LSU students may recognize him as the cheerful, joking cashier at the On-The Geaux store in Student Union. He works full-time. 

Kaleb Duncan poses with the sweater and backpack he made.

Duncan took a break to focus on his craft and now uses his position at the Student Union as a support for his fashion ventures. He plans on returning to school in Fall 2023. 

“I had a lot going on and I wanted to focus on me being a designer, so I pulled back from LSU to recenter myself,”Duncan said.

Duncan’s interest in fashion started in 2016, during his junior year of high school. He started to experiment with clothing while taking an advanced IB class and learned how the sewing machine works. He continued to self-teach through trial and error.

“Once I chose [fashion design] there was no turning back … It’s a medium I can use to express myself, feelings, stories,”Duncan said. “Fashion is a language, and clothes are the way you communicate.”

Duncan originally planned to study electrical engineering when he arrived at LSU. He chose fashion because he was more comfortable with it and also saw the engineering aspects of fashion design.

“Fashion is just engineering with fabric. [Designer Issey Miyake] went to school for architecture, and he uses his architecture and shows it in his work, and I feel that we are similar in that aspect,”Duncan said. “It’s blending two supposedly opposite fields into one beautiful product.”

Duncan designs everything, from womenswear to menswear. He is currently designing outfits for a wedding. He hopes to market his clothing towards college-age students who are just beginning to discover themselves.

Duncan’s brand, Dragonflies Purple, or DFP, is a reflection of his goals in life.

“My favorite insect is a dragonfly because of its symbolism – they represent going through life once and with no regrets. They’re also an animal of hope, perseverance, and luck. And the color purple represents mystique, so all together it represents the royal mystery of discovering yourself and being able to adapt to any situation you go through,”Duncan said.

Duncan began doing fashion shows throughout Louisiana in 2019, including appearances in Baton Rouge (Lafayette), New Orleans, Shreveport and Lafayette. His first out-of state show was September 2021. He was featured in an independent fashion week in New York City.

“[The New York show] really changed my whole perspective on the direction I was heading towards,”Duncan said.

The theme for Duncan’s New York collection was “When Cultures Collide,”He merged elements of Asian culture with Black culture. His outfits were displayed while anime intro music was played. It was intermixed and mixed with Black animation intro music. 

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Kei Ai

Model wearing a blue and gold kimono created by Kaleb Dunn for Louisiana Fashion Week.

“One of the biggest influences in my life is culture … I have multiple sources [of inspiration] I draw from, whether it’s music, anime, people I talk to, experiences or my interpretation of something,”Duncan said.

Duncan says that being a student at LSU has helped him in the fashion business. He points out that the person who introduced Duncan to fashion shows was also a LSU student.

“If I didn’t go to LSU, I wouldn’t have met a bunch of people that introduced me to fashion,”Duncan said.

Duncan has big plans for his future. He has multiple projects lined up for the next months.

“My goal for the future is to make a brand that resonates with a bunch of people, and to be able to express myself through fashion concept videos, and to be able to bring forth something everybody can understand … I also want to become a designer recognized for their technical ability,”Duncan said.

Duncan is also working on a swimsuit video shoot in august, putting together an online store and website to launch in September. Future plans include an anime girl cosplay shoot, and a menswear shoot.

Duncan has learned lessons from fashion about perseverance and believing that he can do it.

“Some important things I’ve learned in the industry [is] being tenacious and not being too hard on yourself, because I’ve seen every time I went to a fashion show, I was always the youngest there, and it’s really intimidating … You’re just like the new kid on the block, you’re just emerging, you don’t really know how others will see your collection,”Duncan said.

Duncan has experienced financial hardships in the fashion industry and he encourages others to keep working hard and not give up.

“I expect better for myself every time. I just looked at my New York [collection], and everyone loved it, but I know I can do better. Every time I make something I try to outdo myself, little by little,”Duncan said. “Even if it’s not your best, you’ll be able to do better next time … You are a lot better than you give yourself credit for.”

Duncan can be found @dragonfliespurple 

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