Charlie Constantinou is a Central Saint Martins’ Graduate Menswear Fashion Designer that is currently in his 20’s. Despite his age, his work is already being recognized by the industry as he won the International Talent Support Contest in 2022 and was an LVMH prize semi-finalist in 2023.
What does innovation mean to you?
Charlie Constantinou: I think there's a few ways you can look at it. I wouldn't even say you can call it a concept of making something that's new because obviously there's just so much out there and it's not even just within modern fashion alone, but more so like I always kind of love looking back in really old history, even ancient history for references and things like that. And you just always end up seeing so many things that are hundreds of years old but are actually now really relevant to modern referencing. So I think for me innovation now is just kind of finding something that can serve a purpose but then it also has this natural meaning behind it
You mentioned before that you consider your work to be “centered around functional wear with a greater sense of imagination”
With this in mind, what do you do to stimulate your imagination or creativity?
Charlie Constantinou: I think there's loads of kinds of pathways of going into that. But then for me, the biggest elements of course is history research. I really enjoy finding references through actual objects, as opposed to only ever looking at fashion references, that and how patterns from nature kind of then collide with manmade ones, and that kind of bridge between them. Aside from actual things created by people also then that kind of fictional world of manga films, stuff like that. So I always find it interesting how other worldly things are depicted through fiction. Because even looking say at any old sci-fi movie, there's kind of this really cringey element to it. But then at the same time it's just so cool. Even looking at costumes for something like Star Wars, there's so many elements, elements to it which are tacky, but then there's these in between of all that. There are refined elements.
What is your favorite piece you have designed?
Charlie Constantinou: I think for me I would say either probably the quilted stuff or the zip pants.
How do you approach sustainability and ethical practices in your design process and production?
Charlie Constantinou: I mean in the normal world of work that I do, it's all nylon stuff because that's a material I've been really working with for a lot of years now. I feel as long as you kind of know you're aware of were you are sourcing it and how it's being produced. Because nylon just as one example is a fabric where there's so much already existing, there really is no need to buy new nylon or actually have new nylon made and I think when you are also someone who works with a lot of variations of color, if you do kind of only work through trying to source colors, get colors made, then that just goes into a really unsustainable practice because you are always then looking to have new things made when there's so much dead stock of these fabrics. So another reason why I've always been so much into dying is because pretty much everything I make starts off in white. All of my fabrics for new collections are pretty much all deadstock roles either from LVMH houses or from British houses.
Can you share your vision for the future of fashion and where you see the industry heading?
Charlie Constantinou: To be honest, I don't really know in a way, cuz I think we're definitely heading towards a place were everyone's more aware of the full scale of what's behind the brand. So it used to be in a way of say like a brand puts out a collection, this is where it's made and that's it, no one, no further questions. But now it's in a way of knowing like where it's made, like what, who are the people making it, et cetera. Actually having a kind of traceability to your work from start to finish. I think that's just kind of how the infrastructure of production is going, which I think's is totally good thing. But then within like the rest of the industry itself, there's still so many elements even within luxury fashion now were they've taken so much out of this fast fashion way of thinking were even big brands now, like Dior are just making all of these capsules and things just to make for the sake of selling. Which I think is kind of them going backwards on theirself in a way.
What advice would you give to the creatives reading this right now that are aspiring to do something great?
Charlie Constantinou: I think when it comes to, especially you as a young designer working with bigger brands, you kind of just have to also be aware of what their expectation is and what your expectation is because for like a young brand super helpful to then get that kind of like support from bigger brands where they can fund projects like that which are way more of like a new thing for them. But then at the same time when you as a small independent brand start working with businesses more on a corporate level you have to also then be careful that the stuff you are bringing to them is actually protected because even me working with Levis about a year later they ripped off the whole collaboration with another brand...
Can you name any up-and-coming designer(s) that you are a fan of? It can be any medium