Dimitri Arvanitis, a Greek designer, who studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts – home to the Antwerp Six and the likes of Kris Van Assche, Olivier Rizzo, and Willy Vanderperre – graduated in 2013, after making waves with his master’s collection entitled, Crude. He now lives in London, where he works on his eponoymous label. Known for his sleek eccentricity and utter modernity, Arvanitis has a penchant for working in denim, pure cotton and leather, “materials people can identify with,” as well as “extreme elements of design.” His work has gained him coveted spreads in publications that range from 032c to CR Fashion Book and has found fans in NY-based platform, VFILES. He sheds light on his brand, The Devil Wears Prada, and what you won’t learn in fashion school …
How old are you and where are you from?
I am 26 years old, and was raised in Germany.
Tell me a bit about your brand and how you think it is different from other brands.
The brand started where my [Royal Academy of Fine Arts] graduation collection stopped. My MA collection was well-received in the media, but I wanted to push myself into another territory in terms of style, shape, and mood. So, my collection centers on the idea of releasing yearly projects where the whole concept is about collaborating with a creative team, such as photographers and editors, who play an enormous role in visualising a certain image and producing special content.
This gives the brand a huge focus on creativity first and foremost, and allows me to stick to the real ambition.
What is something you have learned about the business aspect of fashion so far that you think is really important?
Keep contacts and make friends; you might get back to them. And for those who have been helpful to you already, stay thankful forever.
What has surprised you the most about the fashion industry?
“The Devil Wears Prada” premise is not always just a cliche. It can be very real. Nice people exist in fashion, too, though.
What is something they don’t teach you in fashion school that you think is important to know?
There are a lot of theoretical aspects that we are not taught, such as advanced computer courses, although the use of adobe skills is required in every fashion house these days; and a lack of business workshops in the sense of considering a business plan when it comes to building your own label. There is also the lack of simple but very integral lessons, such as how to communicate and work with a team and with different departments.
I will say, though, that Antwerp is a great institution when it comes to creative exploration and getting to know yourself to the maximum. It is a very personal process, which leads to become a strong character when graduating.
What is particularly difficult about being an emerging design brand?
Budget! It is awful to admit but money rules the world. There tends to be a lack of supportive institutions for young designers.
I do not paint nor do I play instruments. So, fashion is a way to express my visions. Also, in fashion, creations always come alive (via the garments themselves) and they can each look completely different and individual on each person who wears them. That is probably what I like most about fashion.
Who do you admire in the fashion industry?
Everyone who has made it and still treats every single person in this world with the same amount of respect.
Who would you love to see wearing your designs?
Anybody who can relate to them.
Who are your style icons?
When I am looking at the fashion crowd I think Carine Roitfeld has always looked and still looks amazing. With her pencil skirts and button-down blouses, she is representing a timeless, ladylike look and although she is considering contemporary recognizable pieces, she makes them her own and does not look disguised.
What is your current guilty pleasure?
Nutella after 10pm.