Celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, Stussy continues to churned out special, collaborative items in commemoration of its longstanding tenure in street culture. One of the highlights this summer include its venture with Dover Street Market New York which consists of a capsule co-branded collection alongside a unique 20-piece twin set selection designed by Kiko Kostadinov. In line with its subversive roots, Stussy has always known to disregard the pecking order in the industry, choosing to work only with the most innovative, albeit their status or following. Stussy’s collaboration with Kostadinov is another case in point, where the brand has bestowed trust upon a fledging designer who has still yet to graduate from college.
Following from 2013’s “Displacement” capsule for SHOWStudio — which saw the reconstruction of Stussy’s classic sweatshirts to create one-off color block renderings — the two pick up from where they left, presenting a range for London Collections: Men 2015 for Machine A, and now an updated selection for Dover Street Market New York. Through the aforementioned works, Kostadinov has shown his deftness in the studio, cutting and re-sewing two garments to make for distressed, signature piecea. Yet little is known about the fledging designer (who still keeps his Instagram private). We caught up with Kostadinov to learn more about his aesthetic and how working with Stussy has set him off on the right track early in his career.
Kiko Kostadinov is from Bulgaria and currently resides in London
“I’m 25 and originally from Bulgaria. I moved to London when I was 16 with my family. I studied IT at the beginning, but decided it wasn’t what I was into and moved to fashion when I was 18.”
Kiko Kostadinov was an apprentice for Errolson Hugh and Atior Throup
“I’ve had the privilege to intern closely with Aitor Throup, Errolson Hugh and assist stylist Stephen Mann on various projects in the past five years. I’m currently doing my first year of the MA course at St. Martins.”
The Collection seeks to disrupt Stussy’s legacy
“The idea was to try to find a way to break the iconic logo. The collection proves that after 35 years, Stussy’s legacy is still unshakeable no matter how many different ways you try to tear up the emblem.”
The Stussy x DSMNY collaboration came to fruition with help from Gimme5
“The collaboration developed through my friends Stephen Mann and Michael Kopelman from Gimme5. Two years ago, they commissioned me to do design a couple of bespoke pieces using classic Stussy garbs for an editorial. This slowly translated into a SHOWStudio collaboration. It later expanded into a capsule collection for Machine-A as part of LC:M, which has now led to this Stussy x DSMNY exclusive 35th anniversary installation.”
The Stussy x DSMNY collaboration Is helping to fund Kostadinov’s MA degree.
“In the beginning Gimme5 (Stephen Mann and Michael Kopelman) and I wanted our work to be more underground, with little information attached to the designs, releasing the pieces as one-offs. I found it hard to fund my studies while doing side projects. These ideas opened the conversation for us to something more comprehensive without compromising the raw energy that drives the collaboration. Hence, we teamed up with SHOWStudio which opened doors for other successful projects. I’m currently sharpening my aesthetic through my MA studies and slowly developing a collection which is due next February.”
Central Saint Martins provides opportunities rather than training
“Saint Martins doesn’t really train you. What it does, is give you chance to meet people who have similar passions and when you apply for jobs and internships it really opens doors. It is up to you how far you want to push yourself. It’s like being put in a box with hundreds of competitive individuals, each full of energy from such different backgrounds. From students with black American Express cards to students that work two to three jobs, eating plain pasta so they can afford fabrics and tools.”
Each design from the 20-piece collection is unique
“With the DSMNY, I wanted to explore texture and shapes. I don’t think I really designed a collection. I refer to the range as “raw samples” because each piece is unique doesn’t get repeated. It’s not like I’m trying to make 200 T-shirts that look the same. I can spend a whole day on a T-shirt and that’s fine. Through wearing, each piece will develop its own characteristics. With each piece, there isn’t a fixed design that I follow: I’m just trying to use raw materials to do something exciting without overhauling the original context. Most of the time, the pieces come in different sizes. I usually start from sizing up as some clothes shrink when cutting and re-sewing them together.”
Working with twin sets gives Kostadinov structure as a designer
“I’ve done twin sets since the start. I stick to a few core rules. One is to use basic logo products as they will remain timeless, another is to only mix two garments together. It gives me restrictions but also pushes me to focus and not carry away with thoughts like making a three-piece suit out of Stussy sweatshirts, which is a horrible idea.”
Stussy Has Opened Doors for Kiko Kostadinov to Work on His Main Line
“It’s quite surreal to be doing all this as I haven’t even graduated. The Stussy projects have allowed me to put my name forward. This is great because I haven’t produced much before this collaboration. It’s insane when I think about the reach that Stussy created for me. The feedback has been incredible, seeing friends that I think are super cool wearing my pieces and mixing it with their COMME des Garcon, Yohji Yamamoto, Raf Simmons and Prada wardrobes is pretty exciting. I see the reaction when I put out something with only my name that is not necessarily deconstructed jumpers.”
Kostadinov Didn’t Think About Stussy During the Design Process
“I don’t think about Stussy when I’m collaborating with them. I think about things that interest me and how I can improve on what I did before. It’s important for me to keep that raw Saint Martins mindset through whatever I do, in or outside college. Above all, I’m happy that Stussy has give me the creative freedom to do as I please.”