Editorial: ACB7, Discover These Seven Unique Designers On A Mission To Inspire
Meet the ACB7, a London based fashion collective consisting of 7 diverse up and coming designers on a mission to create projects that explore and build awareness around topics such as social issues, culture, sustainability, mental health and more.
I am Macedonian born and raised in the capital, Skopje. I lived there till I was 18 years old before moving to London to study Fashion Design at Middlesex University. . The headpiece is part of a project called "Identity". It is one of few pieces that are heavily inspired by Macedonian culture. It is a play on traditional women's head-wear. Google will explain better, but in traditional wear, Macedonian women would have a white scarf tied around the head, or sometimes twisted below the chin (as in my mask). For special occasions it can be embroidered or have embellished finishing and fresh flowers can be added on the sides of your head. It is actually a very atypical piece for me, as it is quite organic for my aesthetic, but it is a bit on the morbid side so I love that.
I was interested in art since I was a toddler, my parents were very liberal when it came to exposing me to different artists. There is one painting by Frida Kahlo, A Few Small Nips, that I remember so clearly in my mind (the mystery and morbidity of it really intrigued me). We had a monograph from her that I was flicking back and forth alongside my Barbie magazines. They used to take me to a lot of exhibitions, jazz and ballet concerts – that were rarely attended by children like myself. They made me feel that I was part of this beautiful scary mystery, like I almost wasn’t supposed to be there, but it was a magical world I knew nothing about. This is the feeling I want to evoke with my designs.
I remember falling into fashion by accident when I was high school around year 9 or 10. I often got bored in any class that wasn’t art or graphics and used to draw illustrations of people on my desk to pass time. later on, in the year I got the idea to put my illustrations on t-shirts and sell them but I still did not see this as fashion at that time, the following year I decided to study textiles as a GCSE and got introduced to the world of fashion.
I would describe my style as curious, I’m in love with detail and function, I’m always looking for new materials or ways to make a garment function to its highest potential, I think my love for detailing and functions came from studying clothes throughout history, from army uniforms of countries during world war 1 and 2, to explorers and Eskimos from the early 1900s, to fashion and style that was introduced into Britain from the Caribbean during the Windrush. But I also love the aesthetic and feel of London, listening to grime growing up, going to the corner store with £5 for a quick munch, playing football after school in the basketball court, messing up those new shoes your mum got you or jumping the old ‘207’, bendy bus blasting something by ‘chipmunk; Tinchy strider’ or Wiley from your Walkman. I feel like my style is a mixture of all the above. to summarise it I would say my style is ‘modern street wear meets historical referencing’.
I draw inspiration through reading- philosophy, psychology, academic journals. This forms a basis for my thinking/understanding. To briefly sum up the collection, without diving into a heavy philosophical analysis, I was fascinated with Kazimir Malevich’s theories of suprematism and Anish Kapoor’s interest of ‘the void’ and what lies beneath the void. Whilst exploring these two artists, I constructed my own little world of the void and what it meant to me everyday complex objects and shapes that we perceive in this 3D world were stripped down to it's purest’ and simplified form.
Growing up I found it difficult to fit in. I was to Asian for the British kids and too British for the Asian kids . Over the years I learnt to embrace the culture differences between being Filipino and being British and used it as inspiration for my collection . I took inspiration from pre-colonised Filipino tribes, looking at how I can clash non traditional prints to create a tribal aesthetic without being it cliche. I also looked at Geordie working class culture and created work wear pieces and clashing it tribal draping details and embellishment techniques.
Fashion has always been predominantly focused on womenswear. However over the last few years I feel like menswear has become more daring , challenging society’s idea of masculinity.
Before I went to university to study Fashion Design I actually spent 3 years trying to figure out what my path was. I left school, originally having applied to study International Politics at University but ended up training as an accountant. I was always very creative and missed my days at school studying art and Product Design. I ended up quitting accounting and began working in a Bridal Boutique in Marylebone where I styled brides, held fittings and got to attend buying shows at Bridal Fashion Week. It was here that my love of design was reignited and I knew I needed to go and study it further! In my school days, I always enjoyed the cliche fashion-focused shows and films eg The Devil Wears Prada, Sex and The City. I only watched the programs where I enjoyed clothes. I was also always so enthused by my Auntie who’s style is incredible. However, throughout school I was pushed into an academic direction, my Dad really wanted me to do well in subjects like Maths or Politics so this is where my focus lay. It was not until after school that I was confident in myself enough to accept that a creative career was what I was destined for and only then did I begin to really focus on Fashion.
My graduate collection was soft and feminine with masculine elements however, my past work has been of a workwear / militant style. I love the combination of the two extremes - very feminine and very masculine. I am very interested in the struggle between and the stigmas around masculine and feminine qualities, believing that every individual has a mixture of the two and they can work in harmony rather than clash. Men are not from Mars and women are not from Venus, both are from Earth.
I’m from Lithuania, I grew up in a creative environment, from a young age I was trying different things from music to dancing classes. For fashion choice I would have to blame my mom. She always had a dream to open up her own fashion studio, seeing her around with her designed clothes, inspired me to play around with my own clothing. My mother taught me sewing tricks witch lead me to start designing for my friends, when later on applying for Fashion Textile course.
Was inspired by ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ book for the collection. Simply beautiful story about the belief in oneself and power of learning. It teaches how we have to leave our world of limitations/fears, as tough as it is, to begin to understand that there are no limits. Story inspired me to stick to key elements as body, motion, space. From where I just completely let myself to enjoy the process of experimentation while capturing body movements in photographs, playing around with textures and silhouettes.
My collection is ethically considered/ sustainable. I worked with the charity Traid to get second-hand clothes and fabrics. I repurposed old jeans, t-shirts and shirts by deconstructing them and patchworking them together to make the basis of my fabrics. I am really inspired by the unique and interesting outcomes that come with manipulating the second-hand garments into new fabrics, and by re-using clothing and fabrics which already exist I can create something new rather than adding to more waste. I have also used organic cotton and hemp denim produced locally in the UK.
Many of the new menswear designers at the moment are showing that you can be bold, experimental and open to incorporate all sorts of diverse and exciting cultures. I love how in London there are loud voices for people of all backgrounds and space for everyone to express themselves confidently without worrying about established trends or ways of working. I also think it’s really exciting how many brands are authentically taking sustainability into the core of their design process, with designers such as Christopher Raeburn and Ahluwalia studios showing the big corporations that ethical sustainable fashion can be achieved.