Designer Despina Kotsis (left), 23, was thrilled when her designs were selected for use in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3.”
Photo courtesy of Despina Kotsis
A young Greek-American designer from Brooklyn got her first big break earlier this year when her designs hit the big screen.
Despina Kotsis, a 23-year-old designer from Bay Ridge, has made a name for herself by blending her Greek heritage with modern streetwear. She reached a new level of recognition this summer when her designs were included in the highly anticipated “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3.”
The film, released September 8, is the third installment in the My Big Fat Greek Wedding series, written and directed by Greek-Canadian star Nia Vardalos. A Kotsis-designed backpack takes center stage in the film’s opening scenes.
“I’m proud to be Greek-American,” Kotsis said.
She proclaims her origins from Thessaloniki and Euboea, Greece, and emphasizes the importance of keeping Greek culture alive in her family. The story of his grandparents, who arrived in America with “a suitcase and a dream,” deeply influenced his creative aspirations.
Growing up, Kotsis attended Greek school at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church, learned the Greek language from his grandfather, and continued his Greek studies at Fort Hamilton High School. Her designs are influenced by her Greek identity, with several pieces dedicated to celebrating Greek culture.
Kotsis’ entry into the fashion world began at the age of 18 when she founded “Minx New York.» She felt a strong desire to break into the streetwear market, even though she had no sewing skills at the time. One of its best-selling designs, the “dope eye”, is inspired by the Greek “Mati” or “Evil Eye”, with bright colors and the New York skyline as eyelashes.
The brand’s logo depicts a pigeon, a testament to Kotsis’ passion for inspiring others. “My brand slogan is ‘Spread your wings’, which means we all have our own pair of wings, like the pigeon. When we spread our wings, we can live a life full of dreams and endless possibilities.
Kotsis explains: “It represents me as a Greek-American living in New York. »
While Kotsis’ Greek heritage is an essential part of his work, his Brooklyn upbringing also plays an important role in his creative process.
“I went to public schools and talked to kids from different cultures and backgrounds my whole life,” she said. “We really feel like being in a crucible here in Brooklyn.
In her attempt to redefine fashion, Kotsis makes an inclusive statement by using models of different sizes and looks. She said: “Everyone is beautiful in their own way, whatever their shape, size or background. » Her designs are a celebration of diversity and individuality.
Kotsis has created pieces dedicated to other cultures, including a dragon representing Asian culture and a pineapple for Hawaiian culture. The Greek-American designer quickly gained national recognition for her brand on social media and earned 111,000 subscribers on TikTok during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Soon after, Vardalos noticed his work and decided to feature it in his next film.
Vardalos’ support was a highlight for Kotsis, who said he admires the actress and the film that “shaped his childhood.” Vardalos not only tweeted about the Kotsis brand, but also featured it more than once in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3,” furthering the connection between their Greek origins.
Recalling that pivotal moment when she learned her work would be used in the film, Kotsis said, “I screamed! I was shocked because I love Nia Vardalos. I love my big fat Greek wedding. This is the movie I grew up with.
“Having the support of someone who has done it before and represents the Greek community is truly a blessing,” she added.
Kotsis recently graduated from St. John’s University with a degree in childhood education, but her passion for fashion continues to motivate her. The success of his brand increased its sales and notoriety, thanks to the support of Vardalos.
Through her designs, Kotsis shares a unique story that reflects her Greek-American identity and the spirit of Brooklyn. His message to others is simple: “Follow your dreams and ignore the haters and what people have to say. If you are truly passionate about something, it will pay off.