Kyrgyzstani fashion entrepreneur Bay Akerov, founder of the brand Bay, is a name you should remember from now on. His latest creation, a suit that, using a pair of AR glasses, can be used to project any look the wearer desires, was one of the winning proposals of this edition’s Global Talent contest by Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia. In this interview, Akerov explains why the world is ready for fashion to digitally evolve, and why his work could make a valuable contribution to this. In a world of uncertainty, Akerov defines hope for himself and people like him technologically.
You presented your new collection as one of the winners of MBFW Russia’s Global Talents Contest. This is an amazing accolade, as many digital artists from around the world entered their work. Can you tell us a bit about your creations?
Yes, I am very glad that my work was appreciated. I think I was very lucky, there was so much talent! There was not much time to prepare my creations, so I had to sacrifice aesthetics for the sake of the main idea. My main goal behind the idea of digital clothing is not only that it is sustainable but that the outfits can also be animated. We need to go beyond, to think outside of the box – this is what we should be using technology for.
The future of fashion certainly looks digital – we are seeing digital fashion weeks, collections, and so on. Can you tell us a little bit about how digital art and fashion overlap?
I’m glad that the trend has finally reached the fashion world. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, I’ve watched high-end brands like Alexander Wang and GCDS dare to finally introduce digital commercials and fashion shows. I think digital art and the fashion world will now be side by side, and I am excited to contribute to this too.
We’ve seen many digital presentations of fashion in the past few months. How do you think this will make designers reconceptualise their roles?
I’m not sure there will be any drastic changes for clothing designers. Perhaps more opportunities for creativity. Frankly, I’m not very happy with the popular format of selling digital clothing. The idea that you give your photo to the designer and they fit a digital outfit to your body strikes me as boring, it’s too similar to photoshop. It should be reconceptualized to be more exciting.
Your short film presents your innovative creation – a one-size-fits-all suit that, using a pair of glasses, can be used to project any look the wearer desires. The film demonstrates this using lightweight neon body suits. How does the suit give the artist more freedom of creativity?
As well as fashion, I love technology. I try to follow various startups. One of them is augmented reality contact lenses from Mojo Vision. But before AR contact lenses are AR glasses. A lot of rumours say that Apple is going to introduce their own next year. I want to put them in conjunction with the suit to create some kind of techno-fashionable breakthrough.
Ultimately, I see a suit with a minimalist design capable of creating a pleasant body temperature depending on the season. The suit should lead to complete freedom of imagination – imagine how insane it could be to combine AR lenses with clothing!
Do you have any upcoming ideas regarding any designs you want to make for the suit?
Yes, I want to make something unique. I love the style of Scarlett Johansson’s costume in Ghost in the Shell and the aesthetics of Iris van Herpen, they are truly unique. I think it will be trite if the suit screams that it is from the future and is all so technological. Our ideas of the future will get old quickly – remember how funny the fashion in the Back to the Future movie looks? Or Johnny Mnemonic? For me, I feel that an over-futurized look would be lazy. A suit is still clothing, and clothes should be aesthetic.
In today’s world, the way we look at everything is so individual. Because of that, personal taste is so important. How do you think the suit merges the consumer’s and the designer’s freedom of creativity regarding style and design?
I think that it will make it easier to order custom made clothing, especially with the AR glasses. And there will also be an opportunity to create clothing for yourself on a computer.
One of the great things about the suit is, because it is one piece that holds multiple possibilities, it perfectly merges minimalism and maximalism. How will designers communicate materials and ornamentation?
“ perfectly merges minimalism and maximalism”. You can’t say better! The suit makes it even easier to pick materials and ornamentation. Want to use leather? Ok, just choose physical parameters and the right textures. The same for materials like cotton. But what about wood, or metal, or flowing water around you like a mystical character from a fairy tale? We can see how easily CGI artists create realistic and mind-blowing effects.
Of course, at first there will be difficulties with performance and motion capture accuracy. But just think, just twenty years ago, a first mobile phone appeared with a terribly simple camera by today’s standards. And today, movies are shot on smartphones.
In the past, your brand, Bay, has designed balaclavas and geometric patterns, as well as sportswear. The designs speak of rebellion against surveillance and rejection of conformity through uniformity. Can you tell us a bit about your brand’s message?
Rebellion – the word is now more appropriate than ever. My brand is for freedom. For me, freedom is an opportunity to love whoever you want, look however you want. I value mutual respect, caring for those in need, and caring for nature and animals. I am aware that this may sound naïve and cliché, but I see this as the future of humanity; this is what Bay is about.
Originally, I made the balaclavas as sportswear for Snowsports fans like myself, but politics eventually took precedent. I donated some for the people of Kyrgyz so that they would be warm and safe during the revolution. Not much, but at least something.
Digital innovations in fashion are important to the sustainability of the industry. Your short film presenting your work merges fashion and nature seamlessly. What is your aim within the industry? Do you dream of transforming it?
The goal is finally to revolutionize the fashion world. It gives me a heartache to realize terrifying global problems. We can’t continue to live like this.
The video shows a CGI representation of the suit. Obviously, CGI is beneficial for showing designs due to its ability to move the model 360 degrees, showing angles that you would not usually be able to access. Do you think we should change the way we showcase designs to be more digital?
There is no doubt that we need to move towards the digital future, including runways. This will cut costs: you don’t need to go anywhere, and accordingly, fewer resources will be spent. I think people are not yet ready for such changes. A lot of them still need to feel the material besides fitting clothing, but soon they will get used to it. People adapt quickly. The new generation will more easily and more willingly accept this approach. They're used to doing everything online. I definitely like it.
Your work is so exciting to witness. Despite what is happening around us, does designing for the future give you hope?
Thank you for your kind words, I appreciate it! The thought that I can design for the future is just one of the few things that gives me a sense of hope.
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