Post-Apocalyptic Fashion: A Glimpse into the Mind of KevTheWorld
When we imagine ourselves facing human extinction in the midst of an apocalypse, very rarely do we even consider fashion to be at the top of our priorities. One peculiar individual, however, may just to go against the grain and make fashion a post-apocalyptic essential for us all. That individual is Kevin Carrington, better known as KevTheWorld.
Hailing from the well-esteemed Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, Kevin has been regarded by many as a chaotic designer with laser-focused precision and an outlook on fashion like none other. His graduate collection ‘Immediate Relief Solutions’ is argued to be his first major impact onto the fashion landscape, its execution sparking discussions on luxury, consumption, and fashion sustainability, its clothing embodying a scenario of world’s end.
As life has slowed down considerably in recent times, we’ve been given the opportunity to interview Kevin and get a glimpse into his world. With topics ranging from his graduate collection to his views on modern vs. traditional education and his experience with cult-brand AFFIX Works, it seems that Kevin has only just begun shaking the cage of the beast that is fashion.
Introduction & Working for AFFIX Works
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Kevin, I graduated last year from Central Saint Martins for fashion design and marketing. I’m just trying to find my feet like everyone else in the world right now, while also learning a new way of living in these current circumstances.
After looking through your work and aesthetic, we get the feeling that you're into Affix Works. Would you say that they’re one of your influences?
I know a couple of the guys who run the brand, and I had an opportunity to assist them when I graduated. They showed me a lot of the ropes and their way of working. I don't think I would have stuck around trying to work in the fashion industry like this if I hadn't met them, and worked there when I did. They showed me that it’s possible to be yourself in an industry like this.
What was it like working there?
It was great, Affix is a brand aware of it’s context and community, they make a conscious effort to react accordingly, and try doing things differently. In terms of digital output, I think they’re ahead of a lot of competitors. This can be found by them releasing a fun club game experience to wander around a virtual environment. The effort made to have built a radio platform the way they have, and the various handmade lifestyle products that haven’t even been seen before are really refreshing to see from a brand. I’m fascinated about the technical side of Affix too. They would show me their fascination for military details that we all liked. Before working at Affix I’d rarely been asked for my input in the decision-making process of the design. No one asks those who are lower on the chain of command what they think, but being asked that is really nice and I guess it's the next step. If you know how to take it after that, it's the next step into getting to the position where you’re eventually able to be asking other people what they think and doing the design yourself.
Modern vs. Traditional Fashion Education
YouTube is literally the best teacher and I'm going to tell the next generation of kids this as well. Don’t get me wrong, it was great to study for a university degree, but I could have learned so much more if I had just spent the same amount of time on YouTube. I didn't even see my tutors in university that much, and when I did they just discussed concepts. Any kind of technicalities about how to make garments are also very hands-off. They expect you to know how to design as soon as you step in through the door. I was one of the students who didn't, and so I had to learn really quickly and made this shortcoming into an advantage. I focused on what people made and how they made it, more than I was making things myself. I would use those experiences along the way and then eventually make my own versions of them.
Conception of Graduate Collection
When I look at your collection, a good chunk of them draw parallels with the military aesthetic. Do you draw a lot of inspiration from it?
The aesthetic came from when I started to take the collection’s concept seriously. I had to come up with a title during the early stages, and I called mine ‘Immediate Relief Solutions’. The lore setting of the collection was a post-apocalyptic world in alignment amongst other fictional works, and I was thinking of what would take place there realistically. I’m sure we would all expect some form of military intervention, in a world that has completely crumbled and burned down. In this scenario I think that the military personnel who remained would try to regain order, and so I saw the opportunity to blend the military look with the collection. The grad collection aside, no one who does menswear can shrug off the impact the military has on fashion.
Did COVID also influence your collection?
No, funny enough people around me make jokes that I made the collection premeditatedly. As if I knew this was coming. I started developing the concept in September 2018, followed by the actual show for the school in June 2019. And then later that year COVID became national news. People were like, "Kevin, you need to get your collection out. It's like protective gear for the end of the world.” You can set yourself a hard task if you’re working to make base level materials or bare essentials look good, you know what I mean? I would be interested in something like designing PPE, to push the progression of its function, how often its utilized, but to also make looks desirable.
Was the collection also a take on sustainability in fashion?
The materials used were all found on the roadside, various fabrics from previous places that I worked at, among other places. All in all my collection cost me close to nothing.
Do you think that this is the future of fashion? Not just in terms of recycling and sustainability, but also in terms of sourcing from more unconventional places instead of the standard factories?
Yeah. So people are typically elitist about supposed varying qualities of materials, or how difficult it can be to source fabrics. But I can see a future where people will become elitist about how recycled a garment is. I think that the snobbery of fashion can be used to our advantage in that way.
I remember I was looking at the reception of your collection on Instagram and noticed how the comments were along the lines of, "Dude, they look like they're homeless." “What's with this homeless trend?". But from the way I look at it, people who haven’t been exposed to different forms of fashion don't appreciate the careful balance between raw aesthetic and technical details. Is this balance difficult to achieve?
It's a challenge that not everyone is be able to do. To work out the perfect scale of balance and chaos is much harder than you’d imagine. If you can preemptively decide which way you want the balance to tip, it can make your life 100% easier as a designer. People in menswear tend to get caught up in the details and technicalities, and I must admit, I too am one of those people who fit more into the balanced or more considered side. I would argue though, when you go too extreme in one direction, it can translate into pure chaos.
On Future Plans & Ambitions
I can't wait to see what else you're going to create man.
I really appreciate you saying that man. I don't know what I'm going to make next. But I know, that I want everyone to join me in exploring these alternative worlds I want to depict. Whether these people love or hate it, or whatever. I just want honest reactions only. I find and have found strength myself in the community, and just as behaviors such as ‘gatekeeping’ are becoming outdated, I would love as many people to be involved in any way possible. Building a community of the like-minded around what I will do in the future is far more important to me than almost anything.