“Once you’re out as a trans man, you’re only seen as a trans man,” Krow Kian says of his initial hesitance to be shadowed for the duration of his transition for the coming documentary, Krow’s Transformation. “I knew that it’s kind of going to always be my label. But then I thought about how many people I could save just by simply being happy and confident about who I am and what I am.”
The 23-year-old Vancouver native, who goes just by the name Krow, is in the car with his mother, who is driving him to the office of his agent, Liz Bell. “She’s my roommate and my chauffeur,” he says and they both laugh. They’re on their way to discuss the looming spring 2020 fashion week schedule, which incidentally, has been jam-packed since Krow returned to the fashion game as a transgendered male model. “I can e-mail you the full list,” he says, after rhyming off designers he’s recently walked for: Alexander McQueen, Balmain, Neil Barrett, Ann Demeulemeester, Acne … and it goes on.
In a previous life, Krow found success as a lanky, brunette model on the Asian women’s-wear circuit after a friend’s mother suggested modelling at a birthday party. “Everything I learned about fashion was through being a model,” he says. “I had absolutely no interest in fashion as a child. I was more worried about catching lizards and snakes in the backyard.”
After a few years in Japan, at 18, Krow stopped modelling, cut his hair and a year later, came out as transgender. During his three-year transitioning process, modelling wasn’t necessarily top of mind. But when the documentary’s producer and director, Gina Hole Lazarowich (a friend of Bell’s), heard about a worldwide search for trans models to walk the Louis Vuitton spring 2019 show, history seemed destined to repeat itself, albeit in a completely new way.
Krow was cast alongside a few other transgendered models to walk the runway in broad-shouldered, futuristic wares. “When I got chosen for the fitting, I was worried that maybe they meant trans females, versus trans males,” he says, referencing the industry’s more enthusiastic inclusion of female trans models such as Andreja Pejic, Lea T and Hari Nef. “But then my agent called and said, ‘Hey, you got the job,’ and I was super excited when I realized what was going on.”
The next season, his fears were further assuaged when he became the first transgendered male model to close a women’s-wear show for the Vuitton brand’s fall 2019 collection. “It was just incredible to be part of such a huge fashion house and such a really kind team,” the model says.
In an interview with trade journal Women’s Wear Daily, Vuitton creative director Nicolas Ghesquière called Krow “a beacon of hope to all generations,” adding “his courage and strength are empowering and force us to revisit the outdated way we once viewed dressing: suits, dresses, male, female.”
Ghesquière’s words are not hyperbole. In addition to making strides for the visibility of transgendered men in the fashion industry (and there are a few more "firsts’ to add to his list with his recent L’Uomo Vogue, GQ Spain and Vogue Ukraine covers), the model bared all for Krow’s Transformation, the documentary that follows three years in his life, from his first hormone treatment, through surgery, to making his debut at Paris Fashion Week in October, 2018.
“It’s really important for people to know how transitioning works and how it affects people,” he says. “I think that that kind of really pushed me to be like, okay, this is something that’s needed and can definitely save lives and hopefully help people treat each other better.”
The documentary, which premieres on OutTV this fall, recently caught the attention of the Canadian government and was discussed at a legislative assembly focused on trans health care.
“Krow’s story is inspiring, poignant and one that I believe needs to be heard from a trans male’s perspective,” Lazarowich says. “The film not only depicts the physical changes, but also the emotional challenges that come with transitioning, an aspect that isn’t often portrayed in trans stories.”
Meanwhile, homegrown love seems to be in abundance for Krow, who was crowned model of the year at the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards this past spring. The award came around the same time an exhibition was mounted for Toronto’s Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival, a show featuring the model sporting the Hugo fall 2019 collection. “Being able to represent my country and kind of going around the world and showing what Canada can do is just a really incredible experience,” Krow says.