Kaliningrad is a pretty strange place for a fashion show. It’s a tiny pocket of Russia, nestled between Poland and Latvia. The city used to be German — it’s original name is Königsberg — but after World War II, the Soviet Union kicked out the inhabitants, and moved Russians in. It’s the only city in the Russian Federation that has ice-free access to the Baltic sea all year round, and today it’s home to army, air force and naval bases. If, as much of the press is warning, Russia and Europe are headed on a collision course, then Kaliningrad would be a vital stepping stone for the Russian military.
Gosha Rubchinskiy has chosen Kaliningrad as the place to present his FW17 collection. Gosha’s collections are Russian through and through, but at the end of the day, he’s an internationalist that believes in the uniting power of youth culture. When I first interviewed him in 2015, he told me “we speak the same language, but with different accents.” A few years after he gave me that quote, it feels truer than ever — kids all over the world, from Latvia to London to Los Angeles, are drawn to what Gosha has to say.
So, a celebration of streetwear’s global unity in a formerly German city that’s now a center for the Russian military? The irony is beautiful.
Gosha’s boys — the majority of whom are friends, or guys he found via Instagram — marched out one by one, with Russian voiceovers stating their hopes and dreams. Lots of young, hopeful optimism, although one 17-year-old did declare that when he grows up he’d like to work for the FSB (the modern-day KGB).
But what of the clothes? First off, Gosha x adidas Football is coming. He’s hooked up with the sportswear giant’s football imprint to produce a set of soccer gear in the lead-up to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. There were two new shoes: the ACE 16+ SUPER, and COPA, both of which come in three colorways.
There’s tons of Three Stripes-branded apparel, too. Tracksuits, fan scarves, football tops and long sideline jackets — the sort of thing you’d see Premier League managers wearing while they shout at people in the rain. It’s a modern riff on the terrace casual movement, a subculture that’s thrived in Russia thanks to Moscow’s fierce football rivalries.
Those sporty pieces will no doubt cause mayhem when they hit retailers, and they were styled alongside tweed, knits, shearling and car coats — big ’70s vibes all round. Headwear was created in collaboration with English craftsman, and former COMME des GARCONS collaborator Stephen Jones.
Nothing strictly new aesthetically — that’s not really the point — but in a world that’s spiraling into tribalism and “us versus them” narratives, Gosha’s use of youth culture as an expression of unity is something we need more than ever.
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