Noah K Studio Is Sending Hate Mail To Corporate America

Noah K Studio Is Sending Hate Mail To Corporate America

By Andrew NguyenMay 28, 2024

Noah Kantrowitz is here to remind you that your office job isn't real.

A new knitwear designer based in New York, his one-off designs have already been seen in Vogue and on artists like Madonna, Eartheater and SZA. But now Kantrowitz is ready for more, launching Noah K Studio with a debut collection consisting of 10 looks that explore the feelings of existential crisis of trying to balance a nine-to-five while pursuing creative dreams.

"It's a fake fantasy world, yet it’s real because we all have to do it because we live in a society," he tells PAPER. "It's just so bizarre."

Below, PAPER chatted with Kantrowitz to talk about working nine to five and then five to nine, science-fiction and how corporate America is a lie.

Where did you go to school?

I was actually a transfer at RISD. I went to school originally at the University of Vermont studying economics, which is crazy to think about if I had continued that track, like where my life would be today. After my sophomore year there, I took a step back and I was like, “This is horrible. Hard math. Hard sciences. Not for my brain right now.” Then I made the jump and switched.

From economics to knitwear?

Something that I was really interested in, in terms of the economic world, that led me to UVM in the first place, was sustainability practices — things I carry with me to my work today. I did not want to be in a cubicle crunching numbers all day, but somehow I still am. Online, I'm still kind of fake. It may seem like a larger operation. People will message me and ask me, “Who do I get in touch with about this?” And I'm like, “It's me.” I have no interns. I have no employees. I'm working a nine-to-five, so all of this work happens outside of those hours. I work in interiors as a textile and print designer. I've worked recently with Michael Kors and Coach as a print designer on their teams. Basically, I'm working two full-time jobs, like Bruce Wayne Batman vibes.

When did you start Noah K Studio?

I just launched. Back in like 2022, I got advice from a few PR friends that said it'd be really good for me to bring the work I’ve been doing in my day job in-house and create a body of work that lives under my creative control. It's been this long, ongoing process of trying to figure out how that will work.

When I started posting on Instagram and TikTok, I’d get emails from stylists and creative directors that would inquire about work for press events, music videos, editorial shoots, whatever, and I was able to just do these projects one after another. I felt so excited by that, like Damn, the stuff I'm doing in my basement for fun after hours is now reaching these heights. But I can't really speak on it because none of it's my own. It's all just other people's ideas that I'm so happy to be a part of but have no ownership. I was like, that needs to change. My brand is "Noah K Studio" because I want to continue as an artist and make sure that clothing isn't a dead stop for me. Life is long. In 80 years, what if I want to be a painter?

What are you envisioning for the studio now, then?

First and foremost, I want to be able to continue to create work that affirms me and engages with my peers. Right now, that is clothing or wearable sculptures. I love Fashion with a capital F, and that's what is so fun. It's these fantasy, world-building, earth-shattering moments that you dream of. Right now Noah K Studio is in that world of creating really magical moments.

What influences and inspires your pieces?

I love science-fiction and futuristic things and bringing that into my clothes is super interesting because the knitting is quite soft. Knitting is turning a corner in the global zeitgeist to be extremely sexy, chic, fun, experimental. And even when that trend passes, I'll still enjoy it. Continuing to just do things that I love informs my practice as an artist and then that carries into the work. Symmetry is an extremely big part of my practice. There's this balance and organic nature. People tell me that my brand has a viewpoint, but I couldn’t see that because I'm doing a thousand things, going in a thousand different directions. So I can experiment and do what I want, since my design tenants and pillars will stay consistent. I want to make sure that I have a body of work that I’m able to talk about with the motifs and color combinations all playing into each other.

This collection is your first larger body of work. What are you exploring in it?

I entitled it “Late with Coffee,” and it's this weird, horrific love-letter-slash-hate-mail to corporate America. Like I said before, I work a nine-to-five because I need security. I need to balance corporate work and my own practice. “Late with coffee” itself comes from one of my first jobs when my boss was like, “You can't be late with coffee because you're not really late.” That isn't real. One of the looks is the “final boss” with a chainmail hood and a big sword. I imagined sci-fi fantasy and corporate America meshing together. I imagined the final boss in a video game is a CEO, and she invites you into the office, cuts you in half and you're fired.

This past summer I got laid off like four times in a row, which also kind of sparked this in doing it my way. I give my all to these companies, and then they throw me to the side, even though it allows me to continue my craft on the side. It's this balance of love and hate for it, mixed with all of these different people you meet in office spaces that have a weird facade. You walk into the office, and you have to be presentable. The intern, for instance, is the black bodysuit in this collection. I called it the intern because we've all been there: you go for an internship dressed to the nines, but it's way too sexy. You don't know what's going on, and you think you’re the star of the show. It's a fake fantasy world, yet it’s real because we all have to do it because we live in a society. It's just so bizarre. It doesn't need to be this whole theater of office politics and culture. And then it gets super tricky in fashion because it’s also theater within its own right.

Photography: Devin Fearrington