Nikolay Bozhilov: From Garbage To Gowns

Nikolay Bozhilov does something incredible: he transforms garbage into gowns. Here’s how

By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

Nikolay Bozhilov, the Bulgarian fashion prodigy and two-time winner of the prestigious Golden Needle Award, has shaken the world of fashion up with his avant-guard, sustainably stylish creations. In fact, his ‘Morphology’ lingerie collection for underwear brand Triumph was put into production and was an immediate success, selling in limited editions in more than 120 countries worldwide.

Before he knew it, he was flying all over the world visiting places like Paris, London and Berlin for their fashion weeks.   It was a prolific starting point for the young designer. Triumph did an adapted version of his designs, marketing them through the supermodel and eco-activist Lily Cole. 

In fact, Nikolay Bozhilov is something of a boy wonder. And his star is set to continue to rise.

Here, in this exclusive interview, he speaks to me about inspiration, success and artistic influence.

Nikolay Bozhilov: From Garbage To Gowns

lily cole for nikolay bozhilov

How did you come up with the concept behind your famous Recycling Collection?

I had this idea for a long time, but I made it real in one of my projects for textile classes. The first piece I created was a mixture of fabrics and metal filings, which I took from industrial rubbish. It looked very couture, then I decided to make a capsule collection with functional design by using exclusively fabrics taken from the rubbish bin of factory where I had done an internship.


What influences have inspired your work?

I can’t explain it exactly and I think this is the best part. The inspiration is all around us and you have to have the right eyes to notice it. For the most of my projects  I’m influenced by  nature and technology, these are the most interesting things for me and I always try to understand them as I recreate them.

nikolay bozhilov

Why did you decide to create an eco friendly line?

We all know what’s going on with the Earth in the 21st century. If we don’t act smartly now, using natural resources, in a few hundred years there won’t be resources at all. I think that we have to use all the potential we have, before resorting to new raw materials and this is a message that everyone should follow. And the best thing about fashion is that it’s one of the best messengers.


This year you won the Golden Needle Award in Bulgaria for the second time (the first time was in 2010). How important is it for you to receive recognition in your country?

The Golden Needle is the most prestigious award in Bulgaria and I’m honoured to be awarded for “Best young designer 2013.” In the fashion industry it’s all about recognition, to be a successful designer you must be  recognisable, original and popular. My work gives me pleasure and stability and the awards are just a bonus.

How did you shift from being a student in fashion design in Sofia, to becoming one of the key designers at Sofia Design Week?

Actually I finished my Master’s degree this February and when I was invited by the creative team of Sofia Design Week to participate with my graduating project, I was truly overwhelmed. It was a fashion installation which was drawing a parallel between two art movements that emerged during 20th century – Cubism in fine and plastic arts and Minimalism in fashion. I was really happy to exhibit my designs in a wonderful industrial space and to be part of SDW.

nikolay bozhilov

Can you describe how your creations are friendly to the environment?  

In every project I develop I try to create my designs with one essential idea: to be timeless. The most important thing for me is the concept of creating special pieces for special people with a purpose. As a conceptual designer I don’t appreciate fast fashion  and I try to think green, to use natural materials and to recycle other materials.

Which designers have inspired your own designs?

I try not be inspired by specific work of specific designers, but rather on the way of thinking. They are so many but my favourites are Cristobal Balenciaga, Hussein Chalayan and  Martin Margiela.nikolay bozhilov

What does being from Eastern Europe mean for you in terms of how your work is progressing?

Eastern Europe is not the most fashionable place on Earth, you know, it’s a specific area. But I’m glad that I’m from Bulgaria, I think it doesn’t matter where are you from, it matters what are you doing and how you do it. Here the fashion industry is not organised, but the future is ahead of me and I’ll try to change it. This autumn I’m going to present officially  my label and it will be based in Sofia, but I hope to be internationally successful. And this is only the first step.

Images: Vasil Germanov

For more info on Nikolay Bozhilov, please click here.

Chere Di Boscio

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