An Interview with Serb Designer Dejan Despotovic

LONDON–I am currently writing a fairly large piece about the Belgrade fashion scene and have interviewed a ton of interesting–and introspective–designers from Serbia. Unfortunately because of space, I cannot use all the quotes but wanted to share a few interesting insights from the designer Dejan Despotovic, one of the country’s most intriguing young designers. Born in 1986m the award-winning designer (he received the best young fashion designer at the Nokia Awards “Fashion Selection” in Belgrade in 2007), opened his first shop in Belgrade in 2011. He now lives in New York, where he is a fashion consultant.

What are you up to currently? Are you still designing your own line? 

Currently I live in New York City. I work as a creative consultant for one fashion designer here. Beside that I am still designing for my label but now my name and design will be recognizable under the name BLACK’D. My designs will be based on a dress shirt and everything will connect to the dress shirt with a lot of detailing and construction on the garment.

How would describe the fashion scene in Belgrade at the moment? Vibrant despite issues of exporting, difficulties of finding textiles, small quantities and small market? 

The fashion scene in Belgrade at the moment is  one of big growth and I am very proud of designers in Belgrade, especially designers that have been on the scene for a long time now. They are very serious designers and already recognized all around the world. But I think that culture in Serbia is ruining that sense of style that we have in ourselves and it is very hard for fashion designers in Serbia to present and even make people buy unique clothes because people are very afraid of economic situation in the country. I think that they actually don’t have time to think about buying designers clothes at the moment. With economy comes the difficulty to work as you really want to, because there is no way to find fabrics in a big quantities, what makes us do smaller collections. But the ideas of Serbian designers are amazing and we have a lot of people who are already big names in the fashion industry and new faces that are coming out and as I see there will be a lot more names who will take the fashion world by storm!

dejanWhat makes Serbian fashion unique? Is there a specific design aesthetic? 

There is no particular aesthetic; Serbian designers are just people who finished the best fashion colleges in the world as many other successful well known designers and ideas are on the same level. We just have our heritage that is different and we incorporate that heritage with unique design all the time and maybe that gives a different note to Serbian designers and their work.

Has the success of several Serbian designers—including the massive success of Roksanda Ilincic —who have made names of themselves internationally, helped the fashion scene back in Serbia?

Of course! Fashion in Serbia is well known everywhere and especially because of the names in fashion industry that are actually the main names in the overall industry. I am very happy that a lot of our designers are very successful in the fashion world and high-end fashion because people are very interested to see who will be the next “Serb” who they will follow and who will become next big name and the “voice” of Serbian fashion in the world.

Do you think Belgrade is becoming something of a fashion hub for the region? That designers from ex-Yugoslavia want to show in Belgrade versus Zagreb, Ljubljana, and so on?  Does it feel like it’s becoming an important place for fashion in Southeast Europe? 

I began my career in Belgrade. I have shown my work in Zagreb as well as a guest several times, and I think that these two places are the best and the most creative cities in the region. Ljubljana is very creative as well but I think that Belgrade and Zagreb are places that people from Fashion industry are visiting all the time and writing about designers.  Especially Belgrade where I am from, which has unbelievable talents.  I think that city itself and country should support fashion and art a bit more because fashion can help even economy of the country so much and people should know that Fashion is not just a beauty and art and high class events. Fashion is a serious business that can help country very much and every country should invest in fashion designers and the overall fashion industry. It can present that country to the world like it should be presented.