As the lead singer of the band Tokio Hotel, Bill Kaulitz caused a stir in the international music scene–and the bedrooms of millions of teenage girls–at the young age of 16. And while it has become a little quieter musically around Tokio Hotel since around 2010, Kaulitz, now 28, certainly hasn’t stopped standing out due to his style. From the young emo punk with questionable hairstyles (preferably long and very itchy) and LOTS of black eyeliner, he has developed into a truly individual style icon including several stunts as a model (such as for Karl Lagerfeld or Dsquared2). A few weeks ago, Kaulitz unveiled his first own fashion collection, TokioHotel Magdeburg-LosAngeles, in a private event at Berlin’s The Store at Soho House. We spoke to the quirky creative about personal style favorites, his vast fashion collection that is spread around the globe and why he constantly has to change his appearance.
Please tell us something about your first own fashion collection. How did it get to that and what is it all about?
Well I have always been very passionate with fashion and design and knew I wanted to do something with that one day.
I didn't grow up with money. When I was a child we just couldn't afford fashionable cool outfits so I had to be creative. I remember sketching stuff all the time and coming up with my own designs. My mom had to sew everything together. I would just buy like four cheap T-shirts and make my own cool one out of it.
In my first music video I was wearing pants that I made together with my mom.
With Tokio Hotel I was always in charge of all the visual stuff. Everything fashion, video and artwork related was under my control and I’ve been very hands on. So I think it was just a matter of time until I designed my first collection.
I've done the stage costumes for quite some time so I wasn't completely new at it. I slowly started moving away from just regular merchandise to actually designing everything from scratch, choosing my fabrics and cuts.
I started with a hoodie about a year ago and people went nuts for it. So I thought why not make a whole line of it? It's only 12 pieces for the start but I’m gonna build on it.
So TokioHotel Magdeburg-LosAngeles is a unisex streetwear collection, premium merchandise that works as its own brand and can be worn by everyone–even people who are not fans of the band. That was the idea.
Who are your favorite designers and where do you like to shop yourself?
Oh god! That’s a tough one. In my closets you can find everything–from Prada to Rick Owens, Gucci to Balenciaga, Acne, J.Mendel etc.
I was always a huge fan of Dior Homme and Saint Laurent. I'm obsessed with it–mostly because I am obsessed with Hedi Slimane. He is my hero! I adore his work and find him very fascinating.
But I also love smaller brands and newer designers like Ximon Lee, the LA based brand Chapter, Haider Ackermann, Faith Connexion, Henrik Vibskov…but really, in my closets you can find anything. There is almost every brand you can think of but also just as much vintage shirts and leather jackets. Also, you can find every fashion genre and color in there.
I collect fashion. You can be someone else every day if you wanted to and that's the way I like it. I have several closets around the globe really. One is with my mom, I have a huge walk-in costume storage with stage stuff and special custom designs in my studio, one closet in Germany, obviously a personal one at my private house and also storage that's strictly for band and tour costumes. There is just stuff everywhere [laughs].
Both music- but also fashionwise, you have always changed your style over the years. Does that happen rather naturally or is it more “planned”?
I never plan ahead. Fashion and music are a feeling for me. It's an instinct. I just let it flow. I also need change to feel alive and keep moving.
I get bored pretty fast and easily so that's maybe why I look different all the time. It's all about being authentic and being comfortable with yourself. You can't force it. It's something that has to come naturally.
Which musician has iconic style for you?
Growing up I loved Nena and David Bowie in his movie Labyrinth–that was always my biggest inspiration and influence when I was a kid. I love Annie Lennox too. The Eurythmics and Depeche Mode are my all-time favorites.
You are traveling a lot. Which place in the world is the most fashionable for you?
I find New York very inspiring. That’s forever gonna be my number one fashion city. I could just sit somewhere and watch people all day.
LA for example is pretty lame fashionwise. People are just too lazy ‘cause it's always hot. No one is creative. It’s just about comfort so everyone is always in flip-flops and tank tops. I don't like that.
Last year saw the launch of your solo album, but also of a short movie, photobook and art prints by you. Now you are making fashion. Which role do you like best–the musician, actor, model or designer?
All of it. I really need it all. I feel like to really express myself I need all these outlets. I never wanted to just be a singer. I was always more of a performer–fashion played a huge part in it and I was always writing, too. I can't just decide for one thing and luckily all of the above go together, that's why I love my job so much. I don't have to decide and can just explore.
Which further discipline would you be interested in?
I'd like to become a nightclub owner. That was always another dream of mine.