Teaching creativity. Interview with Ike Rust, menswear tutor to former ITS winners.

13 February 2023


In the twenty years of ITS Contest rarely have we seen such consistency in training young designers that would be then be selected as finalists by the ITS Jury, a first step of brilliant careers in the industry. The quality of Ike Rust’s students is undeniable and the students themselves recall his teaching as a fundamental turning point in their development. In our opinion he is an unsung hero of menswear design and the contribution he has brought to this field is borderline revolutionary.

ITS finalists like Aitor Throup and Daniel Ivarsson, who were lucky enough to have him at Royal College of Art in London as their Senior Menswear Tutor, will tell you of a guru-like teacher capable of bringing out the best of you with ease. Ike definitely has a knack for understanding his students, finding their potential and nurturing it as a father-figure would do.

Spoiler alert: the interview below outlines an extremely humble human being, who is not in for the credit. He’ll dodge bullets if you shoot looking for confirmations that he is a great teacher. Like some of the best, he will not stand in the limelight.

ITS: You’ve trained generations of talents and have built a knowledge in teaching that shines through the quality of your students. If you were asked to find a teacher for a design course, what would be the fundamental quality you’d be looking for?

IR: It’s very kind of you to say so – though ‘generations’ makes me feel older than my 61 years. I think the fundamental quality I’d look for would be a sense of the ridiculous.

ITS: Astrid Andersen, Aitor Throup, Marcus Wilmont, Daniel Ivarsson, Hanchul Lee, Mason Jung. Incredible designers that have won at ITS, just a few of those you trained. Can you share any anecdotes about them as students?

IR: I don’t accept responsibility for training these students. RCA Menswear was a team that included Rosie Armstrong, Tibor Rohaly, Peter Sidell, Uscha Pohl, Heather Holford, Frances Mossman, James Long, Simon Foxton and many others. Marcus is a clever, brave and gorgeous man with an incredible instinct. He re-imagined the traditions of menswear and created forms that were powerful, exciting and unexpected. He was the first RCA menswear students to win at ITS. I was at the show when he handed over to Aitor Throup. Aitor was single minded, determined and precise. Much like Marcus he created new cultural capital within menswear. Daniel is a biker at heart and his collection beautifully defined motorbiking freedom. Astrid remains a powerhouse who revolutionised sportswear luxury and conjured with culture and class. HanChul Lee and Mason Jung have astounding skill. Both, in their unique unassuming way, picked open and exposed the guts of tailoring and reformed it into something creatively relevant. With the exception of HanChul, I am still in touch with them all.

ITS: Did you have a teacher who taught you how to be a teacher? 

IR: I am indebted to Bobby Hillson, who offered me a place to study on the MA Fashion Course at (Central) Saint Martin’s in 1982. She later explained that saw something in me beyond an accomplished portfolio or great design, of which I had neither. I guess some things within designing are better understood through instinct. Teaching is like that. You have to trust your gut.

Daniel Ivarsson, Diesel Award winner in 2006

ITS: If you were to hold a Learning experience at ITS Academy, what would you like to share?

IR: Everyone bring food and we’ll share that and stories.

ITS: Looking back at ITS, what does it represent for you?

IR: Being taken care of in Trieste, sun, sea, generosity, delicious food, student expectations, the exhibition and show, tons of people and mainly hosts who were the first to recognise, celebrate and reward menswear design as a creative discipline.
Thank you.

Astrid Andersen ITS 2010 Catalogue photoshoot

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