Meet The Artists And Creatives Designing The Future

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From designers reimagining the use of knitwear to entrepreneurs challenging the alcohol industry with frozen drinks, here are the young innovators creating the future fashion, art and food in Europe.

By Simone Melvin, Kristin Stoller and Julie Goldenberg

When Paolina Russo started her eponymous fashion brand, the odds were stacked against her. Newly graduated from fashion university Central Saint Martins, the young designer set out to found an experimental clothing label with fellow CSM graduate Lucile Guilmard–right in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the duo’s faith in their designs paid off. The London-based brand, known for eclectic knitwear pieces that combine traditional materials with innovative construction, quickly became a favorite among U.K. fashion mavens. In 2023, the two won the International Woolmark prize for rising fashion stars, became finalists for the LVMH prize and were the inaugural winners of the Zalando Visionary Award–the latter earning Russo and Guilmard $54,000 and a spot at Copenhagen Fashion Week.

“It’s so cool that we are based in London, did shows in Copenhagen and are connected with Paris–but who’s to say that we have to do shows there?” Russo says. “We could do shows anywhere. We are putting out the intention of taking the brand internationally–that’s the dream.”

Russo, 28, and Guilmard, 27, are just two of the 30 young innovators on this year’s 2024 30 Under 30 Europe Art & Culture list. Candidates were evaluated by a panel judges at the top of their respective fields, including model and designer Elsa Hosk; art entrepreneur and Under 30 Europe 2018 alum Marine Tanguy; chef Elena Arzak, who runs the kitchen at three-starred Michelin restaurant Arzak in Spain; and designer Fisayo Longe, the founder of contemporary fashion brand Kai Collective and an Under 30 Europe 2021 alum. To be considered this year, all nominees must have been 29 or younger as of April 9, 2024.

Those who made the list received top marks from the judges, and represent some of the foremost innovators and entrepreneurs in the fashion, culinary and art worlds. For many of this year’s listmakers, community was top of mind. Growing up, London-based designer Saeedah Haque never played soccer due to a lack of athletic clothing made for Muslim girls. Without any experience in fashion, Haque developed her eponymous brand from her bedroom, reinterpreting the traditional abaya into utility clothing and streetwear. Since 2021, she has showcased her designs on the runway in New York and partnered with Nike to launch an abaya and niqab with the company in anticipation of the Women’s World Cup. “The mission behind my brand has always been more than the physical aspect of clothing,” says Haque, 28. “It’s always been about my community and the narrative of clothing.”

Others are breaking new ground in their industries–and in more ways than one. Rayvenn Shaleigha D’Clark is the London-based sculptor behind the new Freedom Monument Sculpture Park in Montgomery, Alabama, representing one of the largest sculpture commissions obtained by a woman under 30. The monument park is dedicated to reframing and readdressing the story of slavery and Black history, topics that D’Clark largely focuses on in her work. D’Clark’s other art has been showcased in institutions such as Carl Freedman Gallery, Royal College of Arts, Victoria & Albert Museum and Saatchi Gallery. She says she’s pushing to do more public-facing projects, creating work that represents the diversity of people who interact with it. “There’s a tiny amount of Black women working in sculpture,” says D’Clark, 28. “My work is about visually representing people who look like me, who are outside the common narrative.”

Bigger is better for D’Clark and her goals, and the same can be said for designer duo Joe Granger, 27, and Callum Vineer, 28. The two founders of streetwear brand Unknown London started by selling their designs on Facebook. Their brand has since developed a cult following, reporting revenues of $5 million in 2023. Granger and Vineer say they expect to double that this year. Unknown London is also notorious for extravagant pop-up sales, which often feature DJ sets, booze and, sometimes, helicopter stunts. That U.K. helicopter event in 2023 in particular ran Granger and Vineer upward of $50,000–but they say it was worth it. “Almost every pop-up we do, we have people camping outside overnight,” Granger says.

Speaking of cult followings, Armin Vahabian, an Iranian immigrant living in the Netherlands, has seen similar success in the culinary world. Vahabian, 28, founded American-style restaurant chain Fat Phill’s in 2019 in Amsterdam after falling in love with American diner cuisine on a trip across the ocean. Hawking burgers, fries and other sandwiches, Fat Phill’s now has 16 locations across the Netherlands. The chain generated more than $16 million in revenue last year, and is projected to reach $31 million in sales this year with the help of some international expansion deals, Vahabian says. In January, the company announced a franchise deal to open 100 new locations across the U.K. over the next decade.

One big trend amongst our more culinary-inclined listers this year? Putting their innovations in cans. London-based Sam Hunt, 29, founded ready-to-drink canned cocktail company MOTH with cofounder Rob Wallis in 2019, and are now stocking shelves in Hilton Hotels, on British Airways and even across the pond in Total Wine stores on the American East Coast. They’ve reported more than $11 million in revenue in 2023, with about $9 million in funding. Another lister testing her luck with alcohol: Grace Ubawuchi, who spent two years developing the food tech to freeze alcohol at high percentages with the expertise of Parisian pastry chef Nina Metayer. Ubawuchi, 28, launched her frozen sorbet cocktail company Xin and Voltaire in January 2023. Since then, Xin and Voltaire has expanded its four flavors to 300 locations across Europe and is expecting to see $2.5 million in revenue this year after reporting some $1 million last year.

Some of this year’s Under 30 Europe Art & Culture class have been hustling since childhood. Creator Kyle Thomas got his start selling homemade slime online at 12 years old, and he first went viral after posting a video of him biting the slime. His online presence has since grown and changed, but today the content creator boasts 35 million TikTok followers and 1.5 million Instagram followers. Off of social media, the now 19-year-old is signed to Select Models agency in London after walking the Dsquared2 show in Milan last year.

This year’s list was edited by Kristin Stoller, Simone Melvin and Julie Goldenberg. For a link to our complete 2024 Under 30 Europe Art & Culture list, click here, and for full 2024 30 Under 30 Europe coverage, click here.


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