Kiko Kostadinov is different from the other students graduating from Central Saint Martins’ MA Fashion course. For a start – he’s already designed two sell-out capsule collections in collaboration with Stüssy, which were stocked in Machine-A and Dover Street Market in both London and New York. At CSM’s grad show at London Fashion Week, the Bulgarian-born designer dressed his models in black ‘Morphsuits’ (with choppy brown wigs on top), rendering them completely unrecognisable. Because of this, agencies refused to let him use their models. So, Kostadinov enlisted the help of his friends such as Rei Delos-Reyes and Miles Felix (who are models anyway) and Tom Fletcher who shot these photographs in-between dressing his fellow models and, presumably, himself.
For this collection, Kostadinov moved away from the exquisite fraying and raw cut hems seen in the monastic robes of his BA collection and the spliced hoodies and tees of his Stüssy collabs. Citing contemporary workwear as an influence, these clothes were more minimal: coming in a palette of white, pale and navy blue, the collection comprised of jackets, shirts and trousers styled with Hoka running shoes. That’s not to say there wasn’t a complexity to it though. “I spent many hours working on the cuts for this collection,” he says. “There are seven different trousers cuts, which is quite strange for a ten-look collection.” As well as the number of cuts, some jackets and shirts were tied scarf-like around the models’ necks and one look – perhaps the strongest of the collection – consisted of a long-sleeved t-shirt constructed from complicated criss-crossed interlacing of string.
Kostadinov’s references are quite covert – he’s not trying to say anything particularly clever, which in a sea of concept-first fashion, sets him apart. Focussing the majority of his attention on pattern-cutting, which he does to an exceptional degree, the designer creates clothes for clothes’ sake. One thing he’s clear about though, is his disdain for nostalgia. I find it pointless looking back too much. “We should all look back out of respect but it’s really important to think contemporarily,” he says. While he doesn’t look back, he does look somewhere else: himself. Kostadinov has a great and arguably very original sense of style (which is evident from his Instagram account) and this feeds into his designs. Unlike many menswear designers, the clothes he creates have a sense of wearability: Kostadinov seems genuinely engaged with the IRL man and how he wants to dress.