Self-taught designer Denis Guseynov recently disrupted LA’s fashion scene with his viral replicas of Kanye West’s iconic sneakers. His new collection, created in collaboration with top influencers in street wear, promises to become another hit.
Young designer Denis Guseynov knows GenZs’ hidden desires better than anyone else. According to this fashion ‘outlier’, they crave limited edition clothing, scandalous concepts and provocative styles.
His new collection, Paindigital0000, combats conventionality through designs inspired by neo-cyberpunk, a retro-futuristic style that first emerged in Japan, and the underground streetwear and culture of the early 90s.
The collection is in line with the latest and hottest trend in streetwear, called bootleg. Rooted in underground culture, this trend challenged the fashion hierarchy and disrupted the boundaries of haute couture. It also recently reached the collections of the world’s top luxury brands.
To raise awareness among the new generation of fashionistas, Denis works with LA’s coolest influencers — top fashion videographers, photographers, and stylists.
Guseynov’s main collaborator and videographer, the multidisciplinary artist Phoenix Joy Divizn, is known for his unique contradictory style. He created videos for many celebrities, including Bella Hadid and Playboi Carti. Joy also collaborated with Virgil Abloh, Ian Connor and Lil Yachty, helping them introduce streetwear fashion.
Other top influencers supporting Guseynov are Sober Yung Walter, Balenciaga’s ambassador loved by millions for his high-end taste, and the anti-influencer Lil Jupiter, famous for his “post-normcore streetwear sensitivity.”
Together, these fashion trendsetters aim to disrupt the future of streetwear and challenge the idea of what’s acceptable.
Guseynov already added a new twist to fashion with his first collection, which features a limited edition of Kanye West replicas. Now, combining the novelty of streetwear and a reference to mass market products, he seeks to leave his footprint in the LA fashion industry.
His unisex designs are a reference to the “corporate illusion”, the worlds of Matrix and American psycho. We talked to Guseynov about bootleg, the future of fashion, and his creative workflow.
I’ve always been intrigued by Kanye West’s controversial and provocative concepts. His sneakers rank as some of the world’s most desired footwear, and some of his designs go for as much as $20K a pair.
So, my idea was to create a bootleg collection for GenZs, a very limited drop of 350 pairs. These were replicas of original Kanye West Nike sneakers of 2009, but featuring the clear label: “Fake”.
I thought young fashionistas would love the concept, but I didn’t expect the collection to go viral. I just didn’t have any budget for promotion and reached out to famous LA influencers to see if they’d like a pair to help with promotion.
Suddenly, top streetwear influencers started sharing my designs on Instagram, free of charge, and the social media exploded. Phoenix Joy Divizn was the first to respond. Eventually, he recommended that I move to LA as soon as possible to keep the momentum.
How did you get into the world of fashion?
Before the Kanye West bootleg collection, I worked as a graphic designer for large fashion brands. I am completely self-taught; even graphic design programs, such as PhotoShop and Adobe, I taught myself.
My career started when my friends, musicians in a small underground rock band, asked for my help with their new album cover. Later, I won a competition at the Russian Space Agency to develop designs for branded clothing and other space-inspired merchandise.
The concept I suggested was simple but creative. I added the agency’s logo on top of old images of the Moon made by the first space ships. Also, I incorporated certain parts of rockets into T-shirt prints.
How did you become interested in bootleg?
From an early age I loved streetwear, followed new trends and designers around the world. I am a huge fan of Virgil Abloh, one of the most influential and respected fashion designers of his generation. He is an icon of bootleg fashion who later became the men’s artistic director at Louis Vuitton.
Abloh’s career proves that power dynamics are changing in fashion. Major industry trends are coming from the bottom to the top, with underground fashionistas acting as the main trend setters. These are 15-years-old and young emerging artists in their teens who define the industry.
Dior’s last collection, for example, was made entirely by lesser-known young designers. High-end fashion now lives thanks to creatives coming from streetwear and underground culture, because that’s what GenZs want.
Why did you choose LA as your home base? Why are all young designers here?
LA, New York, and Tokyo are the three main fashion destinations. From producing clothing to promotion, LA is the best place for a young designer. Many major influencers and custom manufacturers are based here.
For example, if you sew in China, it takes weeks to get samples, check all the seams and tags. In LA, the production facility is just across the road, and I trust these people because I know them personally. That’s why the tag “Made in LA” signifies quality for many consumers.
Finally, what to wear? What are the latest trends and developments in Gen Z fashion?
Everything is moving so fast because of social media, such as TikTok. In fashion, there are no major trends anymore, just micro trends. It’s difficult to predict what will happen to style. Designers and fashionistas have to be fast and present to catch these micro trends.
You have to be everywhere, follow influencers who create trends on TikTok and Instagram, be interested in the underground movements in New York, LA, and Tokyo.
Everything is now super baggy and oversized. Young fashionistas and designers focus on affordable clothing, and luxury brands are becoming somewhat of a joke.
That’s where bootleg comes into place, reinventing fashion, and that’s why I am a part of this movement. The industry disruption has just started.