Humble Pleasures was launched in late 2019 by former Missouri State classmates Kennedy Girard and Brendan Wright. Their aim was to create a clothing brand that captured the Midwest’s honest values and the often overlooked beauty of its natural terrain. Not long after beginning, Kennedy’s cousin, Kansas City musician and French Exit label founder Brad Girard, joined the fold. So far, they’ve sold out limited runs of their merchandise, hosted pop-ups with live music from Daniel Gum and Vanity Plates, and had members of The Greeting Committee and Blackstarkids pose in their wares.
Their latest drop is a collaboration with Baby Cakes, a new brand created by Blackstarkids’ own TheBabeGabe. The line features totes and baseball caps with custom embroidery on thrifted materials. Each item is one-of-one, eco-friendly, and a colorful piece of wearable art that can brighten even the most depressing of COVID winter outings. I recently spoke with Gabe and the Girard cousins over email about how they linked up and what went into this drop.
What first sparked your interest in fashion? Are there any brands or fashion icons you gravitated to growing up?
TheBabeGabe: I’ve always been interested in fashion ever since I was a kid. I just loved putting together outfits, coordinating colorways, and sketching ideas. As I got older I definitely got more into brands especially from watching shows like America’s Next Top Model. The first brand that I really took the time to research was Alexander McQueen. He has some of the most iconic runways in history and I really loved all the risks he took as a designer. Also brands like Cross Colours, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Hysteric Glamour, and Angel Blue really have a big influence on me. Vivienne Westwood is someone who inspires me a ton as well. She created this amazing punk rock era in fashion and I take so much inspiration from that. I could honestly go on about all the amazing people who inspire but these are definitely the ones off top.
Brad Girard: Growing up I usually took fashion cues from people I idolized, whether that was through music, sports, or TV. I don’t think I really developed a specific taste for clothing design until later on in life. Now I gravitate more towards local brands and artists, some of my favorites lately being Bittersweet, Easton K, and Common Club.
Kennedy Girard: I think whenever I started picking up skating in 2008 I started to have more of an idea of what fashion is; it was right in the middle of my 7th-grade year. Once I started, I was pretty much infatuated with everything about it; the videos, magazine ads, photography, fashion, who was skating in what, you name it. Baker 3 was on constant repeat and I think I was drawing Emerica’s logo on everything I owned at the time. In retrospect, I think it was how these brands were able to communicate so much of their team’s personality through their ads, or videos, or clothing that really drew me in. I still skate and I still geek on skateboarding; it’s forever the coolest thing.
How did you first meet and decide to collaborate?
Gabe: I’m pretty sure we met through Paris Williams because he’s always looking for cool people to work with. We decided to collaborate after I did a Blackstarkids bag drop for the KC Bail Fund during the protests that happened this past summer. Brad actually purchased one of those bags and thought they were really sick, so from there we sparked this idea.
Brad: We met a year or so ago when we were doing a photoshoot at our friend Sam’s place, and Paris Williams was modeling. Gabe came to the shoot with Paris and we all clicked really well. It’s funny, we were sharing music with each other and Gabe was like, “Yeah I’m in this group called Blackstarkids” and we watched one of their early videos on a projector in Sam’s living room. I remember thinking, “These guys are really on to something.” We’ve been in touch and collaborating here and there on stuff ever since.
Kennedy: We met at a pop-up shop at Fetch last March I believe, literally a week before COVID got serious and shut down the nation. Brad was sharing BSK’s music with us prior and then Gabe and Paris came around the event and we met. We didn’t really get into the idea of collaborating until later in the year, around mid-late August.
What do you admire most about each other’s fashion work or taste?
Gabe: I really just love that Humble Pleasures is always looking for someone to work with. This collaboration really did boost my confidence and make me feel like Baby Cakes can be whatever I want it to be. Their support towards small creators is just so cool and I think that’s what KC needs. There are so many talented people here and when you have brands like this they really help showcase that.
Brad: We really admire Gabe’s vibrant color choices and carefree attitude towards her art. She has this ability to make everything she does seem effortlessly cool. It’s tempting to overthink creative output sometimes; working with Gabe has been a fresh reminder to stay loose and have fun.
Kennedy: Gabe reflects so much fun through her personality and music in tandem with Blackstarkids. She brought the same colorful energy to this collaboration. She definitely isn’t afraid to go ahead and do what feels organic to her and that type of spirit is so powerful.
Has it been a challenge finding the right materials for the line in a thrift store setting?
Gabe: Honestly it wasn’t as challenging as I thought it was going to be. There are so many hidden gems in thrift stores and it’s just all about taking your time and really searching.
Where do you hope to see your brands go in the future?
Gabe: I would love for each of us to get a storefront here in Kansas City. I think it would be really dope just to be able to take these online businesses and have them to come to life in person. I would definitely love to do pop-up shops and runways in the future for sure.
Brad: We would love to have a storefront in the next year or two. Like many people these days, we are itching to get back out into the community and host a space for shopping, music, and collaborative events. From a clothing standpoint, we definitely want to experiment with cut and sew techniques as well as keep pushing toward a more sustainable production model.
Kennedy: One of our largest goals is to continue to produce projects with local artists. Being able to find a common language with our collaborators that feel natural and express what both parties want to say is such a cool thing to happen in real time. Focusing on sustainability, opening a brick and mortar store, and stocking local work, it’s all a part of the dream.
What do you each keep in your totes?
Gabe: In my tote I keep my Mario Kart wallet, some kind of gum, my video camera, and a snack for sure. Also, I have to keep the Airpods on me at all times.
Brad: I usually keep a tote hanging in my coat closet for quick trips to bookstores or hangouts. I keep a camera, notebook, and water bottle in my tote.
Kennedy: Probably some granola, some headphones, the Birkenstocks, and my water bottle.
Browse the collection at humblepleasures.com.