city of knowledge

Fabulous Designer: Kito Acheson

Phoenix Fashion Week, the leading fashion industry event in the Southwest, returns Oct. 14 and Oct. 15 at Chateau Luxe. Today, meet participating designer Kito Acheson of City of Knowledge

Hometown: Seattle

What is unique about your brand: What is unique about City of Knowledge is the world and the narrative behind it. It’s a satire and critique of our world, set in a future which takes the worst of our collective bad habits and takes them to their utmost breaking point. It goes without saying that the brand is very conscious of the environment, and we have switched to nearly all recycled fabrics this year. We are focused on the future of fashion and how it develops in the digital space, and are creating 3D environments, avatars, and digital clothing across multiple formats to be ready for the rise of web3 and virtual media.

What is your brand’s style: City of Knowledge’s style is raw. The pieces arrive oversized, with exposed seams and bulky construction, smelling of charcoal and ash. There’s a certain mindset I imagine with my clothing. It’s the underdog who nobody really takes seriously, but then goes on to outperform everybody in the room and make it look like they weren’t even trying.

What footprint/legacy will your brand leave the world with: One day, City of Knowledge will leave the world with literal monuments in the form of architecture that will last over 4,000 years. What the pyramids are to us is the relationship I would like to have with humans in the distant future. I think it may be too late for our current civilization, but this generation is positioned in the perfect place in time to create the last ruins for the next civilizations to discover. It is not too late to inscribe our stories so that our mistakes can be learned from, and any knowledge we have can be preserved and passed on.

First fashion job: The first time I made and sold clothing was unexpected. I was the president of a university book club, and we needed funding to get snacks for meetings. In the culture of the small university that I went to, the word “fundraising” was synonymous to the word “bake sale.” I knew I wanted to do something different to set myself apart so I thought to do clothing merch. I started small with five white hoodies that I dyed into neutral tones and printed the words “BOOK CLUB” onto the sleeves. I sold out on the first day, and the rest is history.

When did you know you had a passion for fashion: I remember it was in high school when I was first starting to discover my sense of style. I’d showed up to class with pajamas, slippers, a blanket and a mug of coffee. I remember my friend’s reaction upon seeing me walk in the doors, “Boy, you look RELAXED.” And it was true, I felt relaxed. That was when I realized the two most powerful things about fashion. That it can change the way that you feel and carry yourself, and also it can communicate that feeling to others without saying a word. As a quiet kid this was invaluable.

Person who has impacted your fashion life the most and why: Without a doubt, my big sister has been my biggest inspiration in fashion. She was the one who first started making clothing when we were teenagers and watching her work inspired me to develop my own work and style. And every step of the way, she has been ahead of me, pushing me to be better and teaching me from her experience. Even preparing for Phoenix Fashion Week, she has been teaching me how to organize and plan out the collection in the most efficient way. I would not be where I am right now without her.

Your biggest fashion accomplishment in your eyes and why: My biggest fashion accomplishment so far would be getting to show my work at an art gallery. I have been part of two events at ArtHacker Gallery in Phoenix, and I am looking forward to working with them more to display fashion in different formats. One day I would like to be in a more traditional place like SSENSE, but for now I view the pieces that I make as art, and I encourage them to be analyzed as such.

The biggest fashion obstacle you have overcome: I would like to start working with manufacturers, but doing so in a way that’s productive, not destructive to the environment. I would love to find ways to work with manufacturers to create procedures for how to turn recycled clothing into new clothing in a way that scales up. Whatever the solution may be, it’s going to take a lot of creativity, collaboration, and planning.

A designer who inspires you and why: I am very inspired by Demna Gvasalia because he is brilliant when it comes to making statements through clothing and art. His attention to detail extends all the way to the presentation and the invitations and the visuals.

Favorite quote: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” –Albert Einstein

Advice to someone pursuing a career in fashion as a designer: Learn patternmaking, become your own patternmaker, be able to make your own samples. I am still working on becoming a better patternmaker, but if you master this first, you won’t need to rely on somebody else to create your vision.

What can fans expect to see from your collection in October: This October, fans can expect to be transported from this world and go on a surrealist journey through time. Think Mad Max Thunderdome meets Squid Games on acid. You can also expect to see a lot of collaboration. I have always embraced collaboration, so for this project, I’ve been talking to a lot of people I’ve worked with before, alongside new people who my followers should already be familiar with. I probably shouldn’t say much more than that. You can expect to be unexpected.

See this runway brand in person! Purchase tickets for Phoenix Fashion Week 2022 at eventbrite.com. Use promo code FABAZ for a $25 gift card good toward any seat (not applicable toward VIP front-row tickets).

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