Tigran Avetisyan’s clothes shout loud so that he can stay quiet. A recent expansion into womenswear has given him double the opportunity to express himself, and reach a whole new range of people. On the brink of showing his second womenswear collection designed by fellow CSM alumni Pavel An, Tigran had a quick but lively chat with 1 Granary about rejecting trends, the flaws in the fashion system and designing what he wants to deal with the issues he sees as important.
What motivated you to start doing women’s wear?
Well, I have to clarify this. It’s actually my friend that does womenswear, he does it under my label. We try to state it every time I have an interview or we do some press events. His name is Pavel An, and the collection is called Red Carpet. And we both studied at CSM a while back. The only difference is I went back home after I graduated and he stayed in the UK and worked with David Koma.
Is he still in the UK now?
No, he’s here in Russia.
Do you have any input into the design, or is it all him?
Well, we discuss things, but it’s mostly him designing it, because I have no clue about womenswear.
How come he decided to do it under your name?
I already have certain clients and a lot of girls have been wearing my pieces recently – we just thought to try this out.
With a lot of recent collections, the gap between such determined genders seems to be becoming less. How do your collections represent this?
To me, we wanted to make a very distinct line between men’s and women’s offerings. Actually I believe that we are all different and it has to appeal to women only. It had to be very extreme womenswear, in the sense that men won’t be able to wear it. I think the gender thing is just a fad, just a trend. This has been happening before. It seems to be something that comes and goes. I don’t focus on it too much, I just focus on my own thing.
You previously told 1 Granary that you really liked the flaws within the fashion system because they gave you something to work on. Is this still true?
Yeah, I still do. I love the flaws, and the imperfections, because there is no shortage of topics you can touch upon in fashion. There are so many things that are wrong with it. You can never run out of material.
“If you’re going to protest through fashion, you really have to know what you’re talking about.”
What makes you choose Paris as the place to present your collections?
It’s the ultimate fashion spot. If you wanna see everyone, meet everyone that is somewhat influential or has a good opinion in fashion, go there. Also, all the buyers eventually end up there so it just makes commercial sense. That’s the spot.
Do you think that fashion is becoming more political as a reaction to what is happening around the world?
Probably, we see some reflections of that. It is definitely becoming more political now. Whether it is a goal of a fashion designer, or appropriate for a fashion designer to be political with his work, that I’m not so sure about. I think for me it’s quite debatable because your end goal is to make money and you kind of advertise yourself through this. Is this morally permissible? I’m not sure.
How do you see fashion as a valid medium for protest?
I think it’s possible to do. It has to be done in a clever way. What we’ve seen so far I think is very blunt, very straightforward. Also, if you’re going to protest through fashion, you really have to know what you’re talking about. As a fashion designer you have a lot of influence on people so, as a brand, you’re not just a single person, you are an amalgamation of all the people you represent. You really have to study before you protest. I feel like maybe people don’t really take their time and do research, and follow what the media says.
So, do you feel responsible for the messages that you put out through your clothes?
I certainly wouldn’t dare to comment on politics, because, at the end of the day, all politicians are crooked, corrupt and you don’t go into politics to be a good person. You go into politics because you strive for power. If you are talking about America now, I just don’t see any difference between those candidates. Maybe I shouldn’t be commenting.
How do you make your clothes work for commercial clients when you use such bold statements in your designs?
That’s the hardest part of my job I suppose. Sometimes I fail, sometimes it works. But at the end of the day I think I have to please myself, because if I’m not happy with what I do then there is no point. I try to stay honest and that’s the ultimate goal.
“Be stupid, be naïve, be fearless, brainless.”
Your brand is stocked in various countries around the world at the moment. What is the plan for expansion?
Well, we are just going to see how the women’s wear is being received. So far it has been getting a lot of good feedback. We really want to focus on that. Eventually I would like to find a backer, maybe some sort of person who can help me financially to expand because at my stage I’m kind of at the peak of what I can do. If I want to grow, I realize that I need to get some sort of financial assistance and strategy. It’s about finding a good person who I can develop my brand with.
What’s coming next for you?
I’m not sure if I can tell! I do have some ideas, but there won’t be any surprises. I will take upon the same topics; creativity in fashion, marketing in fashion, rebellion in fashion. These are the topics that occupy my mind.
What advice do you have for someone that wants to set up their own brand?
Be stupid, be naïve, be fearless, brainless. When you lose that and know too much, you won’t give in to it.
Words April Kosky Images Courtesy of Tigran Avetisyan