Designing and launching KA-1 Clothing, the contemporary leisurewear brand, was a natural process for 24-year-old Ross Mackay, a former national tennis champion in his home country of Scotland. With a need to look stylish, while staying comfortable, the designer decided to make his own clothing after being unable to find contemporary, high-end leisurewear in Dubai.
Tell us a little about yourself and KA-1?
Originally from Scotland, I’ve been living here in Dubai for just over three years now. Having originally studied business at university, I’m now working on on my brand full time; with a background in sport, I always found leisurewear the most practical and comfortable clothing to wear, so why not make my own.
What was your inspiration behind launching the company?
With my business background, it was originally a business decision, I saw a huge gap in the market in Dubai. When you look to just about any city there are numerous brands having grown or started off in their home city. I started the brand to actually meet a demand for streetwear that wasn’t being filled in Dubai. However, as time went on I grew much more involved in the design and production and became very attached to my work. It became a lot less about the sheer business and more about doing what I like and what I feel others would like.
Could you please tell us about your first collection?
Having recently undertaken a major re-brand from ‘KINGS AMBITION’ to ‘KA-1’ our latest collection focuses on essentials. Having previously delivered more graphic streetwear, we modernised and simplified. With the way the market is going – more minimal and contemporary in style – we took a step right back and looked at what every person needs in their wardrobe.
Quality, fit and comfort are three aspects we focus on. Our pieces may look simple, however we have taken great time in perfecting the features into each item.
The fact that KA-1 focuses on the essentials was music to our ears because as consumers that’s often the hardest things to find; great quality pieces that combine functionality and style. Would you agree?
Absolutely, I focus on daily wear, classic Tees, sweatpants with sleek finishings, hooded sweatshirts, bomber jackets. To me this is the staple of any wardrobe and I aim to do it extremely well. In a world were we are always on the move, with a pressure to be comfortable and also look good, it’s important that there are clothes that allow for this.
You are stocked internationally – is that something your keep in mind when designing – the globality of a collection?
100%. Each market is very different. Generally speaking my Dubai customers like the more graphic print based work, while the UK and European customers prefer the minimal look. It’s important to design for all your customers and not just what you as the designer likes.
What does a typical day at work involve for you? Are you home or studio based?
I’m fortunate enough to share a great workspace with three other talented and creative brands and individuals in Al Quoz. More often than not we are bouncing ideas of each other and helping where possible. I spend most of my day there, however I’m partial to getting out the office and working from a coffee space in beachside Jumeirah.
What’s next for KA-1?
Right now we are focusing on new designs, the fashion industry is a hard one because you always need to be designing and staying ahead. We are working on the SS.17 collection, which we plan to take to the tradeshows in Europe and United States. Other than that, we will be releasing two small drops to add to our current ‘essentials’. Keep growing is our goal…and enjoy it.
All photography by Sandra Tinari, Made Journal