Peep Kakáslok's New Steamy Campaign [Exclusive]

Oftentimes it takes being propelled out of your comfort zone to realize what you’re capable of. Typically, you hear about people having these coming-of-age moments when they leave home for the first time—to go to college, maybe, or on an exchange program. But for Ericka del Rosario, the founder of L.A.-based menswear line Kakáslok, this moment came at the ripe age of seven years old when her family left the Philippines to move to the States—Seattle, to be more precise.

“We moved here at first illegally, my parents weren’t able to work, so it was kind of an adventure for all of us,” she told me. She barely spoke English, but thanks to her parents’ encouragement—coupled with basic human survival instincts—she soon found her way. And I think it’s safe to say, better than the average seven-year-old. Naturally drawn to photography, she was hired by a portrait studio at just 16 years old, where she worked among 40-year-old professionals. Before fashion was even on her radar, it was photography that first captivated her. In fact, it was photography that she first went to Parsons for and that eventually gave her the tools and the skill-set she would need to apply to her career today. Not only did it teach her how to run a business and make her own money—by senior year of high school, she was running her own little business as the resident senior photo photographer—but it also taught her what she was drawn to. “The camera really taught me what I was interested in, what caught my eye,” she told me. “And that’s when I kind of realized that I wanted to be in the arts and design.”

A page from the ‘Boyhood’ zine.

Since starting her line last year, del Rosario has taken inspiration from personal, intimate experiences. And it makes sense, for someone with a wealth of experiences under her belt. Her first collection, “Project Six,” was named after and inspired by the village in the Philippines where she grew up—“an impoverished, segregated section of the country” where people apparently “live in huts with mud floors.” And a year later, she’s finally ready to release her second collection. If a year between collections sounds like a lot of time, that’s because it kind of is—at least by today’s standards, where a year in fashion is equivalent to about eight collections. But del Rosario isn’t really about that; for her, making a collection is only worth it if it’s built on authentic experiences. “Let’s be more authentic with what we put out,” she told me. “A lot of these [young] brands are inspired by punk rock, but never really experienced that growing up—like going to a punk rock show, going to an underground show… or actually listening to it growing up… These fashion brands are putting out these skate t-shirts, but [they’ve] never skated!” And she makes a good point; rather than releasing a collection just for the sake of it or to adhere to fleeting trends and the manically paced market, she waited until she had something real, honest, and worthwhile to say.

An image from “Project Six,” Kakáslok’s FW15 campaign.

Which brings us to Boyhood, the campaign for her SS17 collection, which we’re premiering exclusively on Milk—and the images for which will also appear in a zine. Building off of the theme for her last collection, Boyhood is equally inspired by her childhood—just a specific, universally experienced, visceral moment. One that, as she told me, was captured particularly well in the movie Boyhood and the TV show Stranger Things. “You’re hanging out with your friends until midnight, and going out on small adventures and freaking out over the smallest things. And kind of just, like, being happy over the little things with your friends.” Much like her first collection, the clothes are equally pared down and equally tasteful—if infused a bit more with the quality and construction of couture. Reliable, practically foolproof basics, if you will, that are compelling on their own—and made even more so when juxtaposed against the playful, boyish feel of the photographs. This isn’t just another regurgitated interpretation of youth; this is a powerful, nuanced moment that anyone can identify with—that last taste of real, unbridled freedom, before, as del Rosario put it, “adulthood hits you.” The boys are “happy and excited to be around each other, but at the same time they’re sad,” she explained, before she went off on a tangent, painting a picture in full detail and with eerie precision.

It’s a moment she obviously knows well; as she told me, “[It]’s what I experienced too.”

Photography: Mikey Estrada and Ericka del Rosario.

Zine design: Reed Bennett and Clayborne Bujorian.

Graphic design: Bryan Rivera.

Assistant Direction: Mason Rothschild and Aditya Pamidi.

The ‘Boyhood’ zine, in addition to several shirts, are available for purchase on the Kakáslok website.

Stay tuned to Milk for more from our favorite brands. 

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