Style & Grooming

The Emerging Designer Tailoring Vintage Clothes into New Pieces

Antonio Vattev is one to watch, with an approach to design that is as sustainable as it is wearable

Up Next is a new column taking a closer look at some of fashion’s rising stars.

Name/Brand: Antonio Vattev

Location: London

Alma Mater: Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design

USP: Found clothing and materials meticulously tailored into entirely new garments

Instagram: @antoniovattev

When emerging menswear designer Antonio Vattev moved to London from Bulgaria to enrol on Central Saint Martins’ foundation course, he had no plans to study fashion whatsoever. “I applied to graphic design and architecture and when I arrived I couldn’t find my name on the list,” he says. “The tutors had moved me to fashion for two weeks and told me that if I didn’t like it, I would be able to change. But clearly, I never went back...” Today, Vattev is fresh from his placement year out in Paris, where he gained experience at Lanvin and Saint Laurent, and is finishing up a new collection for his namesake label, which he intends to debut in May this year coinciding with his graduation.

There are faint echoes of the late Judy Blame and Christopher Nemeth in Vattev’s clothes, which often sees the designer foraging for second-hand garments and fabrics – he even makes jewellery out of found objects – before picking his treasures apart and re-structuring them to create an entirely new piece. Tailoring is Vattev’s forte, with suiting and outerwear front and centre of his work. “For A/W19 I used things like trench coats from the 1980s that I found in thrift shops; a vintage knit from the 1950s that I spliced with a shirt; a jean-skirt that I made into a pair of men’s trousers – the little front pocket ended up being a detail on the knee,” he explains. “I research fabric a lot, and I do buy fabrics from shops, but try and use vintage pieces and materials where possible. I’m big on recycling and breathing new life into clothes.”

In an age where the word sustainability is thrown around in fashion quite liberally or even hypocritcally (perhaps because one of the only ways to be truly sustainable is to not make any new clothes at all), a young designer such as Vattev is incredibly savvy to tap into existing resources. Additionally, some of the pieces he makes are reversible, meaning that when you purchase a single item, really you’ll be investing in two – a way of production that in theory, physically reduces the amount of ‘stuff’ being churned out into the world. “The blue suit I made for A/W19, for example – on the inside it’s made of satin, and the trousers are reversible,” he says. “It’s a completely new design but can work both ways. So, if you like the cut of a trouser, a jacket or a shirt, you can just change it a bit and you can keep wearing them a different way – you don’t have to buy two different pieces.”

However, these techniques are no gimmick, and in fact, not once did the buzzword ‘sustainable’ pass Vattev’s lips throughout our entire conversation. The ethical side to Vattev’s process is almost a byproduct of what comes entirely naturally to him – a wonderful way of approaching design if fashion is to meaningfully shift its thinking when it comes to garment production. Antonio Vattev is covetable and contemporary as a brand, too, which is one of the designer’s main goals moving forward as he continues to hone the codes of his label: “It’s just so important to me to make things that people actually want to wear,” he concludes.