Remember Galliano’s first collection, and that of Chalayan? When they were fresh out of Central Saint Martins, Browns bought their entire collections, displayed them in their windows, and became one of the leading institutions to embrace the talent of young designers. Machine-A, the Soho-based store founded by Stavros Karelis, followed the example set by Browns, and has quickly become one of the main globally recognised destinations to sell clothes by recent graduates and that of designers who are still studying. From Astrid Andersen and Nasir Mazhar, to Grace Wales-Bonner and Tigran Avetisytian, Karelis was the first to spot them.
But the route to getting there wasn’t a fashionable one at all times, and Stavros’ story is one of extreme dedication and non-stop work. He’s adopted the attitude that separates the wheat from the chaff: not having a day off or a holiday in years. Time is filled with tireless work until the early hours, hosting exhibitions, working together with SHOWStudio’s Nick Knight on projects, and throwing launch parties with Nicola Formichetti. Stavros works as hard as a machine and aptly called his store just that: Machine-A, with the ‘A’ meaning ‘new beginnings’.
But, he’s not just a hard-core buyer. More importantly, Stavros has become a sounding board to those emerging designers who he supports and consults. Because, as he says about the stocked garments, “the final result should be absolutely perfect. Better than high-end brands, as you are going to be judged much harder. If you see a fault in a Prada piece, you’re going to think that it’s a production fault. If you see a fault in a graduate piece, you’ll think: “he’s not ready yet”. Courtesy of Dishoom, we met the eloquent and very humble Greek for an extended breakfast, dressed from top to toe in CSM graduate fashion – discussing London, the politics of buying, and what it actually takes to start your own brand.Read More