by Marco Martello
KIDSOFBROKENFUTURE is the streetwear brand models Elbio Bonsaglio and Marta Sanchez Castañeda founded in 2019, following up on Marta’s final degree project. From launching KOBF with a private event in Los Angeles to dressing international celebrities and winning the favour of the most respected buyers. Elbio and Marta are taking the fashion world by storm, placing emphasis on the importance of sustainability. If you want to know more about the brand’s short yet successful story, just keep on reading!
I’d like to start off by asking you about your early ambitions. So, can you share with us the goals you had when you launched the streetwear brand KIDSOFBROKENFUTURE?
When we met, we both had a passion for fashion. Marta has a degree in Fashion Design and an international modeling career. In fact, she’s been passionate about fashion since an early age. Marta has a collection of hundreds of Vogues and other fashion magazines that she bought with her pocket money. I started a successful modeling career after graduating in Business Administration. At the age of 28, I created my first brand and, a few years later, I launched KOBF. When we met at Burning Man, Marta was finishing her studies in Barcelona and KIDSOFBROKENFUTURE was her final degree project. She imagined the 2050 society, and how people would dress. After a deep research, she found out humanity doesn’t have a bright future ahead, in a world full of pollution and social gaps. We understood KIDSOFBROKENFUTURE would stand as a social criticism against our behaviours, but we decided to become a sustainable brand only after we met our two business partners, Luca Trama and Manuela Lehnus. They’re responsible for the strategic and financial planning of the company and, together with them, we take important decisions. We love each other and consider ourselves a family and passionate team. So, our first goal is to be one of the very first irreverent, contemporary sustainable brands.
How did you feel upon seeing a stranger in your designs for the first time?
It was amazing (Laughs, E.D.), and it still is! (Laughs again, E.D.) We believe that, if you purchase a KOBF garment or accessory, you share our values and want to be a part of our movement.
What’s the message you’ve tried to convey through KIDSOFBROKENFUTURE over the years? Does it have to do with promoting eco-conscious behaviours?
KOBF has different worlds of reference, and the most significant ones are, for sure, art and sustainability. Most sustainable brands don’t communicate in a very contemporary way, and most people think that, if you’re eco-conscious, you’re also vegan, like yoga and practice meditation. We want to send a message to our audience, making them (especially the younger customers) aware that this isn’t always the case. In fact, we wish to show them that you can be irreverent, wear oversized clothes and do whatever your favourite rapper sings in their songs, all while respecting the planet. We want to use a more accessible language for our community and go together in this direction. In every KOBF collection, the prints are made in collaboration with an emerging artist that we choose because their creations reflect our values and mission. We’re fond of art and our two partners are shareholders of an art gallery located in London, New York City, Rome and Singapore.
By the way, I read that you’ve focused your energy on the making of a 100% sustainable collection lately. Can you take us through some of the production-related obstacles you’ve faced along the journey?
We believe sustainability isn’t an on/off button, but a never-ending process. Every season, we try and do our best to improve that process in a tangible and transparent way (we explain how and why we’re sustainable in all of our company processes online here). Our collections are made with sustainable fabrics, and being 100% eco-friendly remains our first goal. In fact, it’s something we aim to achieve in a couple of years. That being said, besides managing the company with sustainable values, we plant trees every season to compensate our consumption of CO2. To answer your specific question, being sustainable is complicated and, often, expensive. Just to give you a quick example, the offer of sustainable fabrics is much smaller, and that’s the reason why it’s more difficult to find them (especially if you want something that’s not basic). Sometimes, the lack of sustainable materials forces you to buy from other countries, causing an increase in the shipment costs. By the way, we have contracts with carbon neutral forwarders, and that’s – once again – more expensive.
Is there a piece of advice you wish that you were given before embarking on this adventure?
The fashion system is very competitive, so it’s not going to be easy: you need to be well- prepared and know what you’re doing. You have to work very hard, be hungry and determined, because there’s no other way to succeed. Having the right amount of funds is equally important to make an emerging brand successful: you can’t launch a fashion brand, without considering the financial side of things carefully. Furthermore, it’s important to manage time effectively, as in fashion time is crucial
Going back to the first question, what’ve been the top three moments since KIDSOFBROKENFUTURE’s launch?
We launched KOBF in March 2019, so our story is quite new. Anyhow the first important moment, that I believe the four of us remember with enthusiasm, was the launch event in LA. Another important moment was when, a few months after the brand’s launch, celebs started wearing KOBF. Then, of course, the third was when main retailers like Harrods, LuisaViaRoma and Antonioli started buying and selling the brand.
Do you have any regrets? Have you made compromises in the private sphere to succeed professionally?
To succeed in this business, you have to work extremely hard. So, you have to be ready to dedicate a lot of time and energy to your job and be patient enough to see it grow. I think that in life you always have regrets, in every adventure you’d change something if you could go back in time. That being said, we consider ourselves very lucky, as this is our dream and we love what we do.
Lastly, what do you think we should expect from streetwear and, of course, your brand in the future?
Streetwear is now living an evolution, it’s turning into a more sartorial and sophisticated version of itself…and so is KOBF!
Credits: Pictures by Simon / Photographer Assistant Simona Pavan