I first came across Kanbeei on the internet—well, Instagram, to be exact. On a forever hunt for exceptional contributors to join The Height of Style team, my persistence paid off, and I was able to bring this Renaissance man on board to build out our men’s team on the west coast. Standing at 6’10”, Kanbeei is our tallest men’s contributor to date, but that’s just the beginning of his story. A former professional basketball player, Kanbeei is currently pursuing a talent cultivated from his early days of growing up with a poet father: hip hop. As a top 50 indie hip hop artist, Kanbeei released his first studio album, Kanmeo, this March, and is booking shows up and down the left coast. In my few conversations with him, I’ve gotten to know a guy who is unmistakably driven, incredibly creative, ridiculously stylish, but really down to earth, with a surprising sense of gravitas. I couldn’t be more excited to welcome him to the team.
Representing the West Coast, here’s Kanbeei Karlson!
Hello world. My name is Kanbeei Karlson and I’m tall. Don’t stare at me. Hold my hands up for what? They are a size 17. I’m 6’10”, and yes, I played basketball at Kansas State University. Yup, pro too. Music and poetry are my passions, but orthopedics for the last 8 years has kept me alive. I live in Los Angeles, chasing a dream and also working on my realtor license. Life is strong. Life is good. No regrets so far.
Welcome Kanbeei! So tell our readers a little bit about your experience as a tall guy. Were you exceptionally tall growing up?
KK: Growing up my mother always said “you’re off the growth charts again!” after visiting our local family doctor. I knew I was special after hearing that message 20 times. I never hit a random, 8 inch growth spurt over one summer. I was always a steady and constant grower. I can remember my shoe size ran linear with my age. When I was 11, I wore an 11 size shoe. When I was 12, I wore a 12. That stopped when I reached 17 and my feet finally tired out and my height reached its maximum potential at 6’10”. I was always taller than everyone and today it still holds rather true. Not many people are 6’11” plus.
That is definitely true! What are some of the challenges you’ve faced because of your height? What are some of the triumphs?
KK: Challenges that first come to mind are airplanes, movie theaters, clothes, shoes—oh how I wish I could fit into “mall shoes”! Triumphs are pretty much everyday being 6’10”. Sometimes people ask me, “Would you trade an inch for…?” and the answer is always “no.” My height is a staple of what I know and what others will never know. I stand amongst a rare group. Pun intended. I couldn’t leave the universal tall family. I see a tall man and we both know immediately what we’ve faced in life together due to our similar heights. It’s immediate respect. You can’t buy that—the ultimate triumph.
I like that—it’s like an automatic family. So in terms of tall clothing and shoes, what are some of the fit challenges you’ve faced? How have you gotten around them?
KK: I shop in every store that looks interesting, whether it’s at the mall or it’s a garage clothing rack. I’ll scope it out because there are always strange pieces that fit well. If I had to break it down to one store, it would be Nordstrom. I can always find something cool or unique there—so many choices. I also search online and find large sizes and then have them tailored to my frame. It’s not ideal, but it’s often necessary.
What are your favorite brands to wear? And any tips you can provide for retailers for other tall fellows to check out would be great, too.
KK: I don’t have a favorite brand. I’m a brand garbage disposal showing equal attention to all parties. I think it’s important for retailers to know we exist. The giants. The outsiders on the borders of “standard” sizes. There are and will always be outsiders and we need attention too. If retailers opened up the floodgates on their sizes, it would change the game. They would gain a stronger and larger customer population. Professional athletes and more. At a bare minimum, every company should offer taller sizes, special ordered, at the same price as in-store offerings. Side note: If you have large feet, I used to live in Atlanta and there is a store that serves the NBA. The website is www.LargeFeet.com — that’s all I got. Happy hunting!
You make being a “brand garbage disposal” sound pretty good! If you could work with any brand or interview any tall celebrity/public figure through The Height of Style, who/what would you choose and why?
KK: I’d work for Red Bull and interview Sultan Kosen; the tallest man in the word at 8’3”. Seldom do I feel small and when I do, it’s the craziest feeling because I can’t fathom the view and the mocking the giant in front of me receives. Does he have a girlfriend? Where does he shop? Has he heard of basketball? There are an incredible amount of questions that I need answered. I believe in the outliers of life and Sultan Kosen is one of the kings.
What’s the one piece of style advice that you would give to other tall men?
Wear what others won’t, and always get things tailored.
Be sure to look for Kanbeei’s upcoming style and lifestyle reviews from his 6’10”, L.A. vantage on The Height of Style, listen to his new album, and check back for more Q&As from our growing team of contributors in the next few weeks.