Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 14th 2014 Contents 6 Friday, March 14, 2014 • Issue 131
Keegan is just different. That's what he says to me while
perched on his sofa during our interview on Tuesday after-
noon. Dressed in jeans, beat up yellow canvas shoes he
calls "Keegans" and a red 1ndividual shirt of his own mak-
ing, Keegan's passion for the legacy he has created for
himself is palpable.
by Cate Young
Completely at home in the "invisible" print-
ery where he creates his magic, (its location
is a could-be-better-kept secret) the 29-year-
old designer has spent the last few years or-
ganically growing his idiosyncratic brand as a
labour of love, and some might say he's fi-
nally breaking out.
Everything about Keegan ties into the way
he sees the world. His demeanour is relaxed,
easy and even shy; but get him talking about
his ideas and you can immediately see the
light switch on in his mind; he immerses him-
self completely in the experience of his
"Mine, mine and mine" he says of his dis-
tinct visual style. "You can't get more individ-
ual than 1ndividual. I like to have fun with the
things I'm making. The brand is just me."
To hear him tell it, he just makes things
that other people happened to like. He cre-
ates to satisfy himself and his own creative
"It's the little things. I'm an idiosyncratic,
esoteric person. I like to make sure that if you
find one of my Easter eggs, you're either very
lucky, or crazy like me. I will write and do
things that up to now, people won't pick up
on. You have to give people something to
talk about. You can't spoon-feed them. And
then you laugh at people when they don't
get the joke and you laugh again when they
ketch it. It's honestly not made for people. It's
made for me."
It was only when his friends started "bor-
rowing" his clothes and not returning them
that he realised he'd hit on something that
other people connected to.
"[The brand] is how I look at things. People
laugh, people cuss. People love it, people hate
it, but at the end of the day, I'm the only per-
son in Trinidad and the Caribbean doing what
Nothing explains this better than the la-
bels on the packaging of his t-shirts. The
product description claims 1ndividual Aes-
thetic will repel bullets and knife attacks.
Closer inspection reveals a warning: "The
1ndividual Aesthetic Apparel cannot repel
bullets or knife attacks. Don't be crazy."
Speaking of his packaging, Keegan can
now proudly call himself an Addy award win-
ner. His spray-can design took the Gold
medal at the regional level; an amazing
achievement when you consider that he con-
ceived all this by himself.
"My packaging won an Addy. It's the best
packaging in the Caribbean right now. I said it
before and people didn't believe me, but now
the new cans that I come out with will have
"Addy award winner" stickers on them and
I'm going to rub it in people's face!" he says
with a grin.
"I won an Addy with no agency, and doing
it for my own product. It's unheard of. In an
agency it takes a whole group of people to
accomplish that. I'm blessed. That's honestly
the best way I can say it."
You'd only think his braggadocio was un-
warranted if you haven't seen his product. It's
very clear that his art infiltrates every aspect
of his business, and it's his disregard for the
traditional boundaries of art that make his t-
shirts so compelling.
"I made it my business to find unique ways
to expand my art. Who says art has to be
confined by a canvas? When it comes to
these things I have a Warholian mentality. I
will make my art so mass-produced that the
mass-production in itself becomes art.
Warhol understood that. Why can't mass
production be art? Why can't screen-print-
ing? Because it's more accessible? That's ir-
relevant. Every fault is a fashion because it
could potentially be one of a kind. Imperfec-
tions scare me, but that's how creation
starts. You don't mean to make it that way,
but that makes it one of one, and someone
will buy it."
It's that distinctive vision that made Carni-
val 2014 especially busy for Keegan. This
year saw him moving from off-the-cuff "col-
laborations" creating apparel based on soca
tunes he liked, to working directly with some
of the biggest names in soca music. His sig-
nature 1ndividual style popped up in the art-
work for Bunji Garlin's "Differentology" remix,
Kes The Band's "Country Gyal", and Machel
Montano's "Haunted", "Junction" and "Min-
istry of Road". Somehow he also managed to
find the time to work with DJ Private Ryan,
Tribe, and Anya Ayoung-Chee.
"It's very amazing to be part of those
things, and to be part of the team, and real-
ize that it doesn't stop there. It goes on. And
that's just one aspect of Carnival. I didn't
sleep for Carnival, but it paid off because it's
a once in a lifetime experience that you can't
"Carnival messed me up," he laughs "but I
gave myself two months as a learning expe-
rience to work it out. And it was hard, but
now I know better." And know better he
does. Now he's preparing to take over every
major Carnival market in the world, with
plans to create pop-up printeries in Jamaica,
Toronto, Grenada, London, New York, Boston
and Miami, just to name a few.
But how did he get his signature 1ndivid-
ual star to rise so quickly? "I just sat down
and people called!" he says smiling. This is no
small feat either, when you realise that Kee-
gan works almost exclusively by referral, es-
chewing the traditional means of promotion.
You won't find 1ndividual flyers, ads or com-
mercials. Instead, you'll always see him
decked out in his own gear in a fete, and
you'll get 24 hours notice via facebook that
he's having a secret sale. He'll leave it up to
you to find out where. If you really want a
piece of the magic, you'll find him. He's been
told that people come to 1ndividual for him
and not the product, and it's easy to believe
him; he has an easy vibe that makes even
newcomers feel like they've accidentally
stumbled into the best lime in town.
When it comes to the local fashion indus-
try however, Keegan simply isn't that fussed.
He's not interested in traditional entry points
into the market if they limit his democratic
"How I operate, there's no such thing as
models. It's friends of mine, colleagues; real
people. If you want to skip down the runway
you can. If you want roll down you can. If you
want to interact with other people, you can.
It's literally individuals. You don't have to be
skinny and posing like Zoolander. You can't
have everything all stush. Give me anybody.
Fat, skinny. I would like my mother to walk
down the runway because I have no shame.
These are the people who are going to wear
my clothes. Why sell a dream unnecessarily?
These are the situations where you look
completely different. I'm not doing this to be
better than anybody. I'm doing it to be differ-
ent. If you're different you can't be compared
to anything. You're in a category of your own.
The worst you can do is fail. And if you fail, at
least you tried it your way. "
It's that vision that allowed gave him the
clout to operate with creative freedom when
working with known perfectionist Machel
Montano this year. Keegan had a hand in
creative directing Montano's entire Ministry
of Road "campaign". The track has gone on
to win both Soca Monarch and Road March.
But even though it's only March, Keegan is
already looking to the future. He's currently
working on super secret projects that he an-
ticipates will make big waves. When I asked
him where he saw himself in 5-10 years, his
answer was matter of fact: "Rich. And Impor-
tant" he said with a laugh.
Keegan does have plans to eventually
open a store, and a not-quite-as-secret "visi-
ble" printery, but only because he can. "That
will be a concept all by itself."
Either way, it's easy to agree when he tells
you that his brand is "different and forward."
"Forward thinking, forward producing, for-
ward wearing. Just forward. There's no com-
parison to anything. It's just forward and
By Cate Young
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