Antonio Vattev talks about his new av vattev’s FW24 “superculture” collection

Antonio Vattev talks about his new av vattev’s FW24 “superculture” collection

by Juliette Eleuterio
7 min

For Antonio Vattev’s latest Fall/Winter 2024 collection for his eponymous brand, av vattev, the Bulgarian-born, London-based designer looks to the power of subcultures. Titled “superculture,” Vattev specifically highlights the power of unity, and how change can occur when different subcultures unite.

This concept of unity, one that seems lost in our modern times where everyone is trying to get their point across without taking in what others are saying, came to life in the mid 70s with Rock Against Racism. The movement was born in the UK after a wave of racist attacks that took place, bringing together artists such as The Clash, Steel Pulse, Tom Robinson Band, Buzzcocks, Patrick FItzgerald, and many more. Through this new collection, av vattev pays homage to Rock Against Racism and captures that sense of unity that the designer wants to emulate in our present times.

While last season av vattev focused on, arguably, the most iconic rockstar of all, Mick Jagger, this season offers a much broader take on rock, taking inspiration for skinheads, mods, Jamaican ska, and punk music. The brand’s signature Jukebox tailoring makes an appearance this season specifically in pinstriped satin, reminiscent of the iconic 1965 image of Jagger with Francoise Hardy.

Oversized fits also come into play in this collection, taking on that more rugged, Liam Gallagher-esque style of rockstar. Knitwear decorated with tartan motifs, parkas, and anoraks have all been exaggerated in size. Tracksuits, bomber jackets, and beanies are also found in this collection, adding to the feeling of freedom one gets four hours deep into some underground rave.

Through “superculture,” av vattev does not only celebrate the power of togetherness, but also creates a bridge between modern menswear and the rockstar’s wardrobe, from the swinging 60s to the grunge-infused 90s. We caught up with Vattev to get the full lowdown on this collection and its inspirations, as well as getting his thoughts on how the modern subculture manifests itself.

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Why did you choose the name “superculture” for this new av vattev collection?

I think “superculture” resonates very well with the whole idea behind this collection, because the whole idea was to work on not a specific mood board, but collecting different images from different subcultures, different cultures that I have in my folder with my mood inspirations. I just felt extremely free in this way when I was not constructed by a specific concept. Also, I knew I learned about “superculture” through this photographer, Syd Shelton. I also discovered the Rock Against Racism movement through Syd Shelton’s photography book, which is titled the same name. It was published around the 80s [and] is about images showing how completely different subcultures are coming together [to] protest through music. I found it extremely inspiring and definitely resonated with my whole idea and concept for the season.

Why did you choose this as your main inspiration? Was there something about our current times that pushed you to get more political with this collection?

There’s definitely an undertone in this collection, and it’s more about the message. Nowadays, there’s so many voices, and nobody is listening to anyone. The idea behind the movement is actually unity. The idea that if we actually get it together, and we listen to each other, we might be able to move forward, instead of staying in the same place and not listening to each other. I feel that definitely became an undertone of the whole collection, [especially] the concept of combining and mixing completely different ideas together. In the end, you can create something that is new, different, and fresh from completely opposite inspirations. That’s also another message that the opposite sometimes can come together and work better.

Rock Against Racism started as an idea floating in the air, and was only made public and concrete after *certain* rockstars made *certain* racist comments. Did you also experience a certain comment or moment or other that pushed you to make this collection, to fight back against?

Definitely what is happening around the world. There’s no specific thing that is related to me. Obviously, I have a lot of friends that are dealing with the situation that is happening around the world. There’s so many different things that are still happening, like wars or racism. But the message again, is exactly the same. If you just stop for a minute, and try to listen to each other, you can move forward much easier.

From Mick to Liam Gallahger, you find inspiration in all sorts of rockstars, from diff periods of time. How do you then modernise those looks, in the av vattev way?
I’ve known about [Rock Against Racism] and [Shelton]’s book for years now. It definitely took me time to figure out how I would manage to combine and integrate all these subcultures, and specifically we have like a few rock stars that [we were] looking at, [when it came] to doing this collection. 

I believe that integrating our language that was revealed through the previous seasons definitely modernises the collection in a way that nothing looks like a completely copy paste look from the past. And again, mixing with our specific signature pieces, ornaments, pattern cutting or details, it definitely gives a new and fresh look at the end. Everything that I’m inspired by with our brand language definitely gives a new look, and that’s why I feel like it never looks like something you’ve seen before. 

It’s quite funny but if I actually don’t show visuals to people to see where our inspiration comes from, it’s very difficult to figure out. It’s something that I actually really like, because it means that this is my personal point of view and how I see specific stuff and how I translate it through our brand. That’s why I don’t feel the fear of feeling that [our pieces are] going to look old-school. It’s always a [process of mixing] and [translating] through the language of the brand.

I definitely see that through this collection, the modernised rockstar. Rockstars ruled the 60s to 90s decades, and some are still kicking and killing it to this day. What is it about that world that fascinates you?

It is definitely the feeling when you listen to the music, or when you look at them and their personality. The feeling that I get is freedom. Obviously, if we talk about a specific person, I can bring tons of stuff that inspires me or that I really like. But in general, it’s the whole mood of freedom of expressing themselves. 

Also, when I’m listening to [rock] music, it’s so interesting, because it might sound like the music is very light, and you just have to enjoy it, but most of the time, the lyrics are deep and make you think. So I really love the idea of creating a man that is going to look interesting, free, a bit more deeper than just the look. 

If you were alive in the 60s or 70s, which subculture would you want to be a part of?

It would probably be more general culture, rock culture. I would probably try to be best friends with some of the people that I admire. Or I would be a groupie and just follow them and be annoying.

Who is your favourite or most inspiring rockstar or band?

Obviously last season, I had been researching a lot about Mick Jagger. He is the icon. I can tell you many more names, but I feel like the more accurate one at this point might be Jagger. I still want to meet him.

Still can! Last question for you, what are your thoughts on the whole ‘subcultures don’t exist anymore’ debate? Do you think social media killed the subcultures?

I feel like, to be honest, at this moment, I don’t think I can say that subcultures are [dead]. I feel like we just have to pass like 10 or 20 more years and look back and see if social media killed the subculture or created a new subculture, which is definitely going to be completely different from what we know and what we’ve seen before. On one hand, it is a bit sad that we don’t see anything that is extremely strong and going in one direction that we can call it a subculture. But I really believe that we are building a new subculture that we’re going to be aware of in a few years. It’s interesting timing and we just have to wait and see.

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