New Era: A Look At The Next Generation Of Fashion Designers

 
Left Photo: New York Times, Right Photo: The Gentlewoman

Left Photo: New York Times, Right Photo: The Gentlewoman

 

New Era: A Look At The Next Generation Of Fashion Designers

– Written by Mitchell Tan

 

The fashion industry is notoriously difficult to break in to. Over time, designers have come and go but it is rare that an individual or collective come along with enough talent and support to go the distance and transcend their current point in time. Rather, it seems the same designers continue to dominate decade after decade, through their own private labels or helming fashion’s largest houses. These are the names on everybody’s tongues when high fashion or avant-garde is mentioned, as they have been for years now. In the East, Rei Kawakubo, Junya Watanabe, Yohji Yamamoto continue to push boundaries some 20-30 years after their debuts.

In the West, big names such as those in the Antwerp Six like Ann Demeulemeester, Dries van Noten, along with Raf Simons and Rick Owens lead their successful eponymous labels. Hedi Slimane, Kim Jones, among others go from house to house, bolstering sales and bringing new twists on their signature aesthetics as they continue to gallivant in the upper echelons of the fashion hierarchy. However, in the last decade, many new names have begun to solidify themselves as more than another leaf in the wind. A new generation of designers has begun to emerge turning heads and garnering international recognition for their impacts on the world of fashion.

 
 

Photo: London Fashion Week

 

Kiko Kostadinov

Based: London, England

Originating from Bulgaria, Kiko Kostadinov has wowed the fashion world time and time again. Kostadinov was barely exposed to arts and fashion growing up in Bulgaria. After emigrating to London, he studied IT, before transitioning to fashion. Kostadinov struggled to even break into the industry, being denied by London fine arts institute Central Saint Martins before being accepted. He graduated with a Bachelor in Fashion Design and Marketing and continued to pursue a master’s. During his tenure, Kiko created commissioned pieces for Stüssy that were on sale at Dover Street Market. In early 2016, after graduating from the master's program, Kostadinov was provided funding courtesy of the British Fashion Councils NEWGEN initiative, going on to debut his first runway collection in June 2016.

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It was only up from there. In November of that year, Mackintosh appointed Kostadinov as the creative director of their new luxury Mackintosh 001 line. His following Spring/Summer 2017 again was supported by Dover Street Market, this time by occupying the CDG Trading Museum space during Paris Fashion Week. Arguably, Kiko Kostadinov’s big break came in 2018 when Asics and Kiko collaborated on a sneaker, the ‘GEL-BURZ 1’, a Frankenstein of other Asics silhouettes. The collaboration was a first for the Japanese sportswear giant, and it stayed true to Kiko’s values - utilitarian and wearable. This partnership has continued to flourish, to the point where Kiko Kostadinov is often credited with the revival of Asics in the current wave of ‘Dad sneakers’

Style:
Kiko Kostadinov is known for his odd and grotesque patterns, twisting staple pieces with darts, panelling and asymmetry. Kostadinov has long been focused on the idea of utilitarianism in contemporary workwear. His garments are not just intricately cut for ‘fashion’s sake’, they serve a purpose. His use of new and innovative materials complement his ‘useful’ take on fashion, with one of the most notable being the Loro Piana Wool Storm System. Colour palettes of his earlier collections contained neutral greys, blacks, colours that gave off a very sombre tone. However, in more recent collections, Kostadinov has maintained this dark and eerie mood whilst introducing very stark contrasting colour-blocking in colours from terracotta brown to neon green.

 
 

Notable Collection & Pieces:

 

Collection: Spring Summer 18 - “Funny How Secrets Travel”
This show was heavily David Lynch inspired, spooky mesh stockings covered models’ faces as they were draped in meticulously cut workwear inspired tailoring, with bold colour blocking.

Piece(s):
Kiko x Asics Gel Sokat Infinity - The latest collaborative sneaker, this model features and hacked together aesthetic with an asymmetrical raised ankle collar on the medial side, coming in outlandish colours.

Triple Dart Reversible Jacket - Quintessential Kiko, a classic workwear silhouette with triple darts on the back giving a unique asymmetrical silhouette.

Where To Buy?
SSENSE
Dover Street Market

Collection Photos: Vogue
Pieces Photos: Sneaker News, Sneaker Freaker & Silver And Gold

 
 

Photo: Matches Fashion

 

Grace Wales Bonner – Wales Bonner

Based: London, England

Born and raised in South East London, Grace Wales Bonner was born to an English mother and a Jamaican father. This mixed racial heritage has served for the backdrop of much of her fashion career and can be seen as clear thoroughfares throughout her work. Like Kostadinov, Bonner also studied fashion at the prestigious Central Saint Martins school, beginning in 2009 and graduating in 2014. Even before she entered her tertiary education, Bonner already felt a strong connection to her Jamaican and African roots and sought to study to expand upon her understanding and present it in a meaningful and powerful way. Grace Bonner found immediate success upon graduating in 2014. Her graduation collection, titled “Afrique”, was accompanied by a 10,000-word dissertation, providing context to her imagery of Black male models donned in suiting alongside traditional Nigerian garb, inspired by her travels in Ghana. This collection earned her the L’Oreal Professional Talent award. Shortly after this accolade, Grace was awarded the Emerging Menswear Designer award at the British Fashion Awards, LVMH young designer page and British Land London emerging design medal in the following years.

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Style:
Bonner graduated with intentions rooted solely in menswear. She mixes traditional African cultural elements with Western old school luxury and the end product is consistent collections of pieces that represent Black male identity and sexualization. Grace Bonner incorporates her African heritage in a way that is neither conceited or pandering, instead, presenting a side to Black culture that is often neglected by popular media, one of sensitivity and androgyny showed through embellishments, immaculate silhouettes (built for the longer bodies of her African models) and details rooted in her cultural inspirations. The inherent androgyny and power presented in her early menswear collections made her garments highly sought after amongst women too, to the point where she has recently begun a separate womenswear line.

 
 

Notable Collection & Pieces:

 

Collection: Spring Summer 15 - “Ebonics”
One of Bonner’s very early collections, “Ebonics” sent ripples around the fashion industry. Powerful imagery and messaging were evident, highlighting her incredible eye for tailoring as well as her passion for her ancestry.

Piece(s):
Holkar Satin Jacket
- A womenswear piece from her Spring Summer 19 collection, this suit jacket screams powerful yet spiritual, combining elements of Indian spirituality and religion juxtaposed against formalwear.

Créolité screen printed line - Several staples subtly branded with a print reading “Créolité”, a French-Caribbean literary movement encompassing the idea of forming an identity, a theme that is central and evident throughout Bonner’s collections.

Where To Buy?
SSENSE
Wales Bonner

Collection Photos: Griot Magazine
Pieces Photos: Farfetch, Wales Bonner

 
 

Photo: Vogue

 

Marine Serre

Based: Paris, France

Hailing from a small village in Corrèze, France, Marine Serre has not always been involved with fashion. Instead, from a young age, Serre was a gifted sportswoman, excelling in tennis, playing at a high level in her teenage years and narrowly missing out on Roland Garros selection in 2004. Serre has always been humble, down to earth and understated. Although she was interested in the process behind garment making, she was an outsider through and through. Despite this, she decided against moving to Paris, instead, settling in Marseille for several years before completely flying the coop and moving to Belgium, the birthplace of many of fashion’s biggest names (look no further than the Antwerp 6). Central Saint Martins seemed out of Marine’s financial grasp, so La Cambre, a public visual arts school in Brussels was a logical choice. During her 5 year tenure, she met her current intimate and business partner Pepjin van Eeden. After her stint at university, Serre went on to work under some of the biggest names in fashion, at Alexander McQueen, Maison Margiela, Dior (under Raf Simons), Balenciaga (under Demna Gvasalia). However, her underdog status never faded, as she struggled with her poor English, financial troubles and next to no connections in the industry. Despite this, Marine Serre’s graduation collection “Radical Call for Love” in 2017, turned many heads earning her the LVMH prize, proving to be a breakout moment.

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Style:
Marine Serre’s early passions in sporting translate heavily into her current work and are very clear in her more recent collections. She mixed Islamic imagery with huge traditional womenswear silhouettes, big billowy skirts and dresses made of light flowy materials juxtaposed against skin-tight cycling shirts, headbands and exaggerated rubber gloves. Her most recognisable pieces are those plastered with the loud all-over crescent moon graphics, often in harsh black against nuder-coloured skin-tight garments. Serre is often credited with bringing high-fashion couture and sportswear into a more disciplined and down-to-earth approach, with refined sharp tailoring and flattering silhouettes adding to her skill sets now.

 

Notable Collection & Pieces:

 

Collection: Spring Summer 19 - “Hardcore Couture”
Only her sophomore appearance on the catwalk, Marine Serre and her brand had already continued to build on the identity she has carved for herself so soon after breaking into the fashion industry. Whilst not anything radically different or new from her showings of the past, she continues developing on her signatures and strong suits. What is unique, however, is her use of upcycled materials, which comprises 50% of this collection, her own stand for sustainability.

Piece(s):
All Over Moon Catsuit
- This piece is everything Marine Serre. From the signature crescent motif plastered all over, to the clear sportswear heritage, this piece blends couture and casual to the same degree Serre has become so famous for.

Key Fob Opera Coat - The centrepiece of the Spring Summer 19 collection, this meticulously crafted coat featuring an exaggerated shape and key fobs lined up row after row, embellishing the piece. Donned by an older model on the runway, this notion speaks to the timeless aesthetic of the piece.

Where To Buy?
SSENSE
Marine Serre

Collection Photos: i-D
Pieces Photos: Nu You, i-D

 
 

Instagram

 

Victor & Julius Juul. Photo: FGUK

 

Julius & Victor Juul – Heliot Emil

Based: Copenhagen, Denmark

Brothers Julius and Victor Juul are both born and raised in Denmark, and are proud of their Danish heritage. Unlike all of the other designers featured in this article, the brothers have no formal education in fashion. Instead, Victor has a background in business, and thus fulfills the roles of business and operations management within the company, whereas Julius has a direct design background. Julius majored in Creative Communications, studying at the Danish School of Media and Journalism, then proceeding to form his own creative consulting/advertising agency, closely working with many of those established within the industry - Alexander Wang, Robert Geller, Nike, Adidas, Michael Kors - just to name a few. In 2015, Julius was taken under Kanye West’s wing as he established YEEZY Season 1, as well as working on some of West’s more personal projects at the same time. In the following year, the brothers founded Heliot Emil, named after their great grandfather. The name was chosen in an act of patriotism, to evoke the sense of something Danish without plastering their own names across the company.

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Style:
The brother's design work with Heliot Emil is a mild departure from the now stereotyped Scandinavian minimalism, instead of drawing more parallels with ‘90s anti-fashion. Although the colour palettes of their various collections are consistent and often toned down, androgyny and militaristic styling have always been evident throughout their work, and how they play and develop on the trends of the current fashion-scape. There is an emphasis on hardware and large monogrammed logo all in brushed metals, contrasting against flat monochromatic colour palettes. Heliot Emil definitely prides themselves on fluidity, being unisex without the need to plaster the label across their clothing.

 

Notable Collection & Pieces:

 

Collection: Fall Winter 18 - “Intended Consequences”
A continuation of the utilitarian and military-inspired aesthetics of past collections, Heliot Emil continued their strong presence by showcasing their first ever collection on the runway, debuting at Copenhagen Fashion Week. Built on the French notion of “L’appel du vide”, the concept of undermining oneself, the collection introduces pieces of tailoring that have been chopped and altered to fit with the utilitarian aesthetic.

Piece(s):
HE Logo Belt
- A sure fire way of gaining likes on Instagram, this Heliot Emil staple piece builds on trends established by the likes of Virgil Abloh and Matthew Williams whilst presenting a twist. Intricate hardware is combined with quality materials for a functional and wearable piece.

347 W Skirt - An incredibly unique offering for women in their most recent season, this skirt features custom hardware trimmings and an off-kiltered shape complemented by the technical heat reactive material giving off an urban ninja vibe for the ladies.

Where To Buy?
Heliot Emil
017 Shop

Collection Photos: Highsnobiety
Pieces Photos: What Drops Now, Copenhagen Fashion Week

 
 
 

Photo: Grailed

 

Martine Rose

Based: London, England

Martine Rose hails from the diverse South London, with parents of both British and Jamaican descent. From the get-go, Rose has favoured straying from the beaten path, starting from her rather “rogue” household, one which was always was filled with music. This and the cultures present around her in the ’90's stuck with Rose, along with the exploits of her various family members (cousins and the like) who were very into the ‘fashion scene’ of the time. Attending Middlesex University and studying Fashion, Martine graduated in 2002 and already found her signature aesthetic, twisting familiar into grotesque abominations (in the best way possible). Martine Rose explored other ventures before forming her eponymous label in 2007, initially as a shirting brand for men. Rose’s innovative approach to menswear was recognised early on by the British Fashion Council’s NEWGEN initiative. In the short time since the brand’s inception, Rose has garnered a cult following, despite her rather outlandish designs. Among Rose’s biggest fans is Demna Gvasalia, founder of Vetements, who recruited Rose to work under him when he took the helm of Balenciaga in 2015.

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Style:
Self-proclaimed as "probably the best designer in the world", Martine Rose’s designs seek satisfaction in the subversion of the norm. Inspiration comes from very clear sources, even from her earliest collections. Her knack for the twisting and warping of proportions is derivative of the artworks that she references. Rose uses oversized silhouettes to represent the world in which she grew up in, the melting pot of all the various subcultures present in London in the ’90s. Most notably of these cultures is rave/clubbing, which peaked in prominence in Rose’s youth. The clashing of sportswear, off-kilter tailoring and bold graphics are central to her design process and elicit feelings of unease, nostalgia and a sense of finding the extraordinary within the ordinary.

 

Notable Collection & Pieces:

 

Collection: Fall Winter 19 - Martine Rose x Nike
The collaboration between Rose and American sportswear goliaths Nike encapsulates everything that defines Martine Rose. The reinvigoration of vintage sportswear garments with a deliberate clashing of the classic UK tracksuit mafia/full kit wanker vibe and the appropriation of football culture into America’s “soccer”.

Piece(s):
Martine Rose x Nike Air Monarch IV - The quintessential dad shoe was warped by Martine Rose into a bulbous abomination that provides a unique silhouette on foot. This design came to be when Rose fitted a size 18 upper using size 9 tooling.

Jock-Strap Jeans - Equal parts S&M, and Americana, the exposed stitching and fly area show elements of classic American sporting and sexual fetish, all encapsulated in a phallic shape.

Where To Buy?
SSENSE
Tres Bien

Collection Photos: i-D
Pieces Photos: Sneaker Politics, Avery Ginsberg

 

Like this article? Please leave a comment below and tell us what you think and also let us know what’d you like to see us cover next in our Stories series.

Author: Mitchell Tan
Photos: Supplied/Sourced

 

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