The New Russian Fashion Brands Embracing Post-Soviet Cool

Until recently Russian fashion was in the shadow of European and American fashion influence. Although there always was a bunch of local designers they never offered anything that European fashion hasn't had. Until the '90s trends made a triumphal comeback a couple of years ago. And after exploring various trends of this decade the world of fashion has finally arrived to the terra incognita of the 1990s Russian style. It must be said that whereas for most of other countries it was just another decade which followed the 80s, for Russians it came with the dissolution of the state, the downfall of the old system and the crush of old dreams. The time when freedom equalled absence of authority, lawlessness and anarchy. The time when old values deteriorated and new ones haven't formed yet. But it was also the time when this much coveted freedom made so many things possible. New opportunities, open borders, new labels, materialistic desires - they all intertwined together. It was a certain chronotope, the bond of time (the so-called 'freewheeling 90s')  and space (post-Soviet Russia) in the discourse of fashion which was only inherent in Russia and former Soviet republics.

For the new generation of Russian designers the Russian '90s trends is the story of their childhood. The time when materialistic desires prevailed and labels were taken so serious. In a sense it was a very childish approach to fashion which is a part of its allure today. The time when labels meant your status, your belonging to Western civilisation. None of those clothes was actually made in Russia. They partially came from the US and Europe, but mainly from China and other Asian countries. The labels were often fakes but no one cared much. They meant so much as symbols yet so little as actual words for those who wore them. Many of those who wore T-shirts, bombers and bags with labels or English words didn't necessary knew what they meant. Today, Russian designers turn this wave in the opposite direction by putting cyrillic lettering on their clothes and sending them down the runways all over the world.


Gosha Rubchinsky is undoubtedly the most famous Russian designer at the moment. He is on the list of the most influential people in fashion according to Business of Fashion. So influential that Kanye West would fly to Moscow for a day just to meet up with him and discuss their new collaboration. From somewhat an outsider in the beginning of his career he went mainstream and pushed the cyrillic lettering and tracksuits into fashion. He made a debut at Paris Fashion Week in 2014, and has been all over the fashion news ever since. Gosha Rubchinsky released his first perfume, Gosha Rubshinsky exhibited his photographs, Gosha Rubchinsky made a film called The Day of My Death. He seems to be capable of anything. His latest whim was to stage his show not in Moscow but in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave on the Baltic and the westernmost Russian city. And the fashionable folk followed him. So what makes him so important? His clothes are far from being conventionally beautiful. He hasn't invented anything new in a sense of cut and design. But he brought post-Soviet discourse into fashion and brought up a few important questions about fashion. He plays with meanings, mocking the old ones and creating the new. What is the meaning of labels? What is the aesthetics of uniform?


A new brand launched by Gosha Rubchinsky together with his friend and pro-skater Tolia Titaev in 2016. The idea was to produce skateboards together with clothes which would be suitable for skateboarding. But since skateboarding clothes has become one of the streetwear hits in recent years, and Gosha Rubchinsky one of the main moving spirits behind this trend, Rassvet launch was all over the fashion news. Rassvet meaning sunrise in Russia is both the symbol of a new post-Soviet Russia, and also one of the most popular Soviet names for kindergartens, pioneer camps and cafés. The debut collection produced by Comme des Garçons is sold at Dover Street Market in London and Comme des Garcçons' Trading Museum concept store in Paris.


Sputnik1985 was launched by Sergey Pakhotin as a DIY project. Pakhotin came to Moscow from Belarus and ended up living in his friends' flat for a few months, unemployed and destitute. He's decided to learn something new and chose silkscreen printing. He started buying blank T-shirts and printing portraits of his favourite writers on them. Eventually, Pakhotin decided to take it to the next level,  he signed a contract with a clothing factory and launched Sputnik1985. He draws inspiration from various things, one season it's the prison tattoos and the next it's the print of the Moscow White House after tank shelling. 


Launched in the end of 2014 by two sinologists Dilyara Minakhmanova and Maxim Bashkaev, Outlaw Moscow draws inspiration from Russian art and the 90s streetwear. According to the founders, the name for one thing refers to the Russian realities, but it also signifies a protest against the everyday routine. Their daring photoshoot with model in chains in front of the Kremlin, and short films showing everyday life in Moscow seem to serve the purpose. Bold print mixing, Cyrillic alphabet and emphasis on outerwear are the cornerstones of the brand identity.


Andrey Artyomov, the man behind the Walk of Shame, is another important member of a new generation of Russian designers. Founded in 2011, the brand focuses on the spirit of the 1990s mixed with abundance and glamour of the 2000s. There's something decadent about his opalescent slip dresses styled with bathrobe fur coats, crop tops with the name of the brand in Cyrillic letters and oversized trench coats. But what makes Walk of Shame so successful is Andrey Artyomov's 'muse' and friend Natasha Goldenberg, a stylist and a Russian fashion icon. She's often spotted wearing WoS designs to Fashion Weeks all over the world. Other WoS clientele include Natalia Vodianova, Rihanna, Leandra Medine and Elle Fanning. 


Conceptual designs of a young graduate of Central Saint Martins earned him a grant from LVMH and praise from fashion crowd all over the world. After working as an intern for Acne and Lanvin, Russian-Armenian Tigran Avetisyan returned to Moscow and founded his own brand. Avetisyan concentrates on slogans which say: 'Nothing Changes', 'No Jobs', 'Too Much Pressure'. He put these hand-painted statements overheard from his former classmates at St Martins on his coasts, robes and T-shirts. His designs are more about concept than cut. Thus, his SS17 collection included 12 identical looks: a black&white trench coat splattered with paint and featuring the words: 'Nothing Changes'.