ISTO. London Series: Aleks Cvetkovic – Journalist & Creative Strategist

First of all, can you tell us a little bit about yourself; where you're based, why you chose to work in the fashion industry and what excites you about it?

I’m a creative strategist and freelance journalist and I live in Newington Green, northeast London. I ended up writing about clothes because I’ve always loved getting dressed – I think it goes back to jazz music for me, and the style of the jazz greats.
When I graduated, I worked as an editor in men’s lifestyle magazines for the first six years of my career, before I made the decision to launch my own business in February 2019. These days, I run a strategic creative consultancy. In layman’s terms, I help brands to tell engaging stories. I work with my clients to define their purpose, pillars and tone-of-voice, and ensure they create campaigns that will resonate with the intended audience; speaking to consumers’ wants, needs, thoughts and pain points.

How have you been getting on with your ISTO. pieces since our shoot? Have you taken them on holiday or been wearing them almost daily? Tell us what you've been up to with them.

Very well indeed. The pieces I chose are all quite relaxed for me, given that I spend much of the working week in tailoring. Having a pair of comfy cords (in that great rosy pink color) and a classic Breton shirt to enjoy on the weekends or potter around the neighborhood has been lovely. I’ve been impressed by the cream utility jacket too. It lives up to its name, in that it’s incredibly versatile – more on that below.

Is there one piece you've particularly enjoyed more than the rest and how are some ways in which you've incorporated it into your existing wardrobe?

Again, the cream field jacket is a great piece of design. It’s a clever color for a ‘utility’ piece, which helps it feel quite dressy. I’ve been wearing it over a cream knitted T-shirt with either black wide-leg linen trousers or stonewash jeans. I like the waist ties too - they lend the jacket a carefree attitude. Tie up the front and forget about it.

Can you tell me about the items you brought to the shoot? Why did you choose to bring them and what do they mean to you?

The most significant piece for me was the blazer. It’s bespoke by Edward Sexton, one of the tailors I most admire. Navy club blazers can come across as quite stuffy, elitist even, but I find them quite interesting to dress down, hence the jeans and the sneakers. The jeans are vintage Levi’s 550s, the “Relaxed Tapered” fit, which the brand first launched in the late 70s. The sneakers are by Spring Court, and I’ve yet to find any casual shoes that are as comfy.

In your opinion, what are the markers of a versatile and sustainable wardrobe?

Simplicity. Tonality. Quality.

What advice do you have for someone who's wanting to build a more sustainable wardrobe? Where do they start?

It’s not easy. Do your research. Question things. Think about the whole supply chain. Quality of fabric is a big thing for me. “Premium cotton” or “grade-A cashmere” might ostensibly sound like a responsible purchase, but what does this actually mean? Is it traceable? Where in the world was the raw fiber grown, and in what conditions? Don’t fall for marketing slogans.

What ensures that a product – be it a garment or an accessory – ages well?

Again, I’d say it needs to be a simple piece of design, in a restrained color. Bold patterns seldom age well. Playing with tone and texture is a smarter move. And whatever you do, don’t buy on sale. If you don’t pay full price for something, then you won’t really value it. Think about how you buy and invest in clothes that will be with you for the long haul.

How important is brand transparency in this day and age?

It’s as important as the consumer wants it to be. We all need to be better about driving change. Big brands will respond to us if we vote with our wallets. That’s starting to happen, but our society has a long way to go – and very little time to change.

What are your major gripes with the fashion industry today and how can we go about fixing them as individuals?

Brands will behave badly for as long as they can get away with it so consumers need to be more vocal. More of us need to care more about where our wardrobes come from.

What do style and dressing well mean to you?

The older I get, the more I realize how deeply personal style is. I think to have ‘good style’ is simply to feel comfortable in your own skin. How you get there, though, is easier said than done. I don’t think it’s really about what you choose to wear, it’s about how you choose to understand yourself. Clothes should represent your true self, rather than a fictional sense of self that you’re trying to sell to others.

Aleks Cvetkovic
London, United Kingdom

James Edward Holborow
Benedict Browne