Currently working on his graduate collection at The University of Applied Arts in Vienna, Ilija Milicic fled from Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early '90s and settled in working-class parts of Vienna. “My experiences are woven into me so they will exert their influence on my work one way or the other,” he says. Sometimes, subconsciously, Vienna’s immigrant Balkan community is more often than not a core reference in the designer’s work. “I’m definitely not trying to mould myself into a Balkan fashion ambassador or something, I just deal with topics and people that are dear to my heart,” he adds.
Although Milicic’s sleazy menswear can also be flatteringly unisex, he is planning to stick to designing for the male body for now.“ I enjoy the limits that menswear brings with it. For someone as free-spirited as me, it can be soothing to work with those limitations from time to time. It feels like you’re in a box which you’re trying to expand, make more space in it, and fill it with new things.”
Like an increasing number of climate-conscious young designers, who opt for designing timeless pieces on their own terms, Milicic does not wish to comply with fashion industry’s arguably outdated seasonal model that encourages extreme consumer behaviour. We talk to Milicic about authenticity, the influences of his Balkan roots, the irrelevance of the traditional fashion industry model and the perpetual appeal of tracksuits.