Ten Designers You Should Meet: Kiko Kostadinov
Most people who are currently studying for their master’s at Central Saint Martins are sobbing quietly into a pile of fabric somewhere, cursing the day that they ever thought fashion was a viable career path. Or so I’ve always imagined.
Not so Kiko Kostadinov, the Bulgarian designer who now calls the legendary King’s Cross studio his home until he presents his final collection in February. There are no tears here. And not because he’s got his hands on a job lot of Xanax.
No, it’s because Kostadinov is already setting fashion tongues wagging, thanks to the cult-level success of his collections for Stüssy for Machine-A and Dover Street Market New York and Ginza. And all before he even thought about graduating. No big deal. For Stüssy, he deconstructed their staples, the sweatshirts and track pants and that dripping logo, and pieced them back together, layered and shredded.
It’s all been quite helpful really. You know, money wise. Through those collections, competitions and the sale of his BA collection, Kostadinov has pretty much been able to fund his master’s outright. He admits it’s all a bit strange. Talking to him, he’s direct and to the point. When I ask him if he was excited the first time he saw his clothes in Dover Street Market, he just says, “The first time they were it was all the way in New York, so I didn’t really care.”
But to be honest with you, directness is no bad thing when you’re a young designer. When you want people to sit up and listen. And the clothes that he makes are direct, too – they talk. Well, not literally. It’s more that they have something to say. “If you don’t have anything to say with the clothing, then it’s just stuff, and we don’t need any more stuff,” he says. “It’s scary and pointless supporting designers without a message or vision.”
It’s probably this reason that led Stüssy to choose him as a designer to collaborate with, wanting, as they did, to “fuck up the logo”. I asked him what they had meant by that. “It was about taking something out of the comfort zone and being aggressive with the process,” he says. This process, of making things with his own hands, is crucial. “If you can’t make clothes yourself, then you are just a stylist, no?”
The clothing itself – raw, pieced together spontaneously – ignores those traditional boundaries of menswear. Instead, he chooses shapes that warp, challenging the wearer, oversized on the top or bottom, where seams are exposed or twisted. “I try to work as much as I can on cutting and shapes. I’m not a good drawer, so I have to make things in order to show them to people.”
So, what’s next for fashion’s latest wunderkind? “There isn’t a beginning or an ending, it’s just one continuous line of thought and physical work.” His final collection is built up on those layers of his past work, not all-out new, but a kind of evolution. “It’s a self-portrait collection – a whole collection of feelings and emotions.” Watch this space.
Taken from Issue 43 of 10 Men, THE DARK LANDS, on newsstands now….
Photograph by Kim Jakobsen To