Moderne Day Designer
BORIS BURDIKIN - SEAN JOHN
By Roxana Vosough
Image Credit: Sean John 2012
Burdikin and I have a moment to speak as he awaits his train from Manhattan to New Jersey.
When asked what inspired him to get into fashion design, Burdikin replies “I always had an eye for it. From a young age, when I lived in Russia, my grandmother used to get me clothing from the Czech Republic, always making sure I was sharply dressed, given that it was difficult times in Russia. She was the biggest influence”. Burdikin, like many, was heavily influenced by the music scene, as passion that only intensified with the launch of MTV and its many music videos. In high school Burdikin started to pick up a more individualized style, “I stood out, dressed differently, wearing blazers and polka dot shirts. I was coming into a certain age and finding my style. I began to understand how to put together outfits. I started hanging out in the scene in New York. A major influence that got me interested in fashion was nightlife, people in the street”.
Design Director, Boris Burdikin is the moving force behind some of fashion’s biggest names, leaving an undeniable footprint in many of the labels he has worked with, including Adidas, Reebok, Pony,
Def Jam, and Sean John, to name a few. Burdikin’s impressive résumé attests to his unequivocal drive, ambition, and determination. He has lead a life that many only dream of, and continues to pursue his vision for design forward with ease.
After high school, Burdikin was swift to pack his bags in Jersey and head for the city. He enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), in New York. “The city was my campus,” says Burdikin, “it shaped my eye, really, for what I do now”. Burdikin says that, amidst traveling the world and attending an array of European fashion shows, his greatest influence comes from the streets of New York.
Upon completing his studies in merchandising and design at FIT, Burdikin was not ready to settle for just any job. He was quick to find a freelance position for Adidas, and swift to impress them during his interviews. Recognizing the opportunity to work for such a well-known company, Burdikin did everything in his power to get ahead. “I put in 80 hours a week. I went beyond anything that was expected of me.” The opportunity at Adidas led Burdikin to work with one of his first mentors, Peter Moore, known for creating the first Jordan logo, and building the brand.
Burdikin is first to proclaim that his path as a designer was “very unconventional, I just started as a designer” as opposed to starting off as an assistant and working one’s way up. Burdikin proved himself quickly and was promoted from his freelance position to a member of the design team. “I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I learned quickly!” says Burdikin, “I took my first trips to Europe. I learned what it was like working for a global company like that – to work for an international machine – it was an amazing experience, it was like going to school again”.
Through Adidas Burdikin was able to collaborate with an NBA legend, Kobe Bryant, working closely with Bryant to develop and create his brand from its inception. Adidas also gave Burdikin the freedom to work on his own designs, “they gave me a carte blanche to work on these amazing promotional items. I had never done anything on that level or that price point. It’s amazing that they let me do it!”. The products were a precursor to the Y-3 label, described as the “haute couture of sports wear”.
Burdikin soon realized his potential as an out-of-the box designer and recognized that he was headed in an aesthetic direction that Adidas was not yet ready for. Burdikin began to work freelance for several years, taking on various projects for Pony, Fila, and Reebok. He soon established a relationship with Russell Simmons, and began the next phase of his career, launching Def Jam clothing, a more sophisticated street wear. The brand’s inspiration came from Simmons’ persona as a pioneer in the urban music market. Burdikin was given great control of the product and worked with the brand for several seasons, later becoming the VP of Products after the company was sold.
After working with Simmons at Def Jam, Burdikin took at position at Liz Claiborne as Design Director and eventually became the VP of Design for the Enyce brand which was one of the street wear brands under the Liz Claiborne umbrella.
Image Credit: Sean John 2012
Design Director, Boris Burdikin
THE MODERNE DAY SERIES
Over the years Burdikin had the opportunity to meet with the notorious Sean “Diddy” Combs. Combs was looking to make a drastic change for his label Sean John, after observing what Burdikin was doing with Def Jam. “My first two interviews were not so good, but by the third, I got him to be a fan”. The duo had a forty-five minute face-to-face interview, which is a very significant amount of allocated time with an individual such as Combs who is known for giving only several minutes of his time in situations such as these. “He was looking for someone to build a team”.
Burdikin and his team spent the next four to five years trying to evolve the menswear brand. “As hip hop has changed,” explains Burdikin, “so has the fashion”. Burdikin and his team get inspiration from high fashion and particularly trends from Milan, Paris, and Tokyo, while simultaneously maintaining the New York aesthetic in their designs. They hit the pivotal point when the label was distributed in over two hundred Macy’s stores and became the department stores major lines. Sean John had become “much more contemporary and evolved”. Although the company was acquired by a privately held firm, “Puffy is still a major voice of the brand, he is the muse, the aesthetic of the product mirrors him” explains Burdikin. “Everything I design and direct has to go through him, it’s a critique process. Anytime we do meet, he has a unique perspective on things, always spinning us in a different direction. It’s a cool goal to get him excited about the product.”
Inevitably, Burdikin explains “people atop have serious demands, and don’t have time to play around. You have to put yourself in their mindset: is he going to wear it? Is he going to like it”?
Burdikin possesses the essential and rare attributes to enhance a vision and even re-create it in the modern era. With untouchable sophistication, the designs constructed by the creative mind of Boris Burdikin exude an overall refined quality while simultaneously encompassing an edge of the metropolitan.
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