For 10 years now, concept-store, restaurant, and gallery KM20 has served as the nexus for Moscow street culture and fashion, bringing some of the style world’s best emerging names out east while incubating a slew of homegrown talents.
For founder Olga Karput, the dream was always simple: foster a new generation of cool kids who could put Russia on the map, all the while connecting the dots between fashion and the sprawling capital’s other cultural movements. That initial goal has been achieved and then some: KM20 has transcended its original purpose as a mere store to become a bonafide institution. If real estate is a barometer of success, then you only need to look at the relatively new flagship location that spans 2,500 square meters across two retail levels, complete with underground carpark — home to some of Moscow’s wildest parties — and a rooftop cafe.
Moscow might be flush with millionaires, but like the colette’s of this world, there’s something affordable in the store inventory for all. KM20 has beome a democratizing force, bringing people from all backgrounds together, just as all good stores should.
As KM20 gets set to mark a decade of success, we caught up With Olga to discover how she plans to celebrate.
How do you think the fashion industry has changed in Moscow over the last 10 years?
Back in 2009 when we started to work on the project, Moscow needed something fresh and different in the fashion department. There was a huge desire to make a difference. KM20 made a strong statement when it first appeared on the scene and attracted the right kind of people that stick with us to this day. We’ve managed to raise a whole new generation of clients.
It was always important for us to challenge local taste buds. From introducing Maison Margiela Artisanal pieces to launching Heron Preston’s namesake label in the underground parking lot, everything we did was outside of the norm. KM20’s mission was to educate. Now we are surrounded by the coolest and most talented people in the city. This gives us strength and inspiration.
The fashion industry has gone through a dramatic change in the last 10 years. There is no more hierarchy in the industry. A popular, cool person with ambitions and a three-year-old brand can become the artistic director of a luxury house. It’s become more flexible and accepting, and the customers have adapted to it.
Can you talk us through some of the planned collaborations?
We are proud of the union created between KM20 and the brands we represent. Our second “Collaboration Festival” [the first one took place when KM20 moved to a new standalone three-story building] has gathered most of our favorite brands and designers.
Moving away from the dark, contemplative aesthetics of his new multimedia project, GR-Uniforma, Gosha Rubchinskiy came up with a line of neon T-shirts, sweatshirts, and hoodies that feature a blueprint of our new building. Rubchinskiy has been with KM20 from the very beginning.
The next part of our ongoing art-project with Off-White™ will drop this October. Virgil worked together with Russian graffiti collective A.D.E.D. for this capsule which is based on the unique “MODERN ARCHITECTURE” installation that can be found in the store. Off-White™ x KM20 “Temporary Vol. 3” is our third collaboration in the last two years. The capsule will feature a Panama hat, ring, signature zip-tie, and a t-shirt.
Palm Angels has come up with two beautiful Moscow T-shirts, while the Medea sisters prepared a special shopping bag in white vinyl for us. We love our Polish neighbors at MISBHV, and this season, casual sportswear will be revamped with the coolest cycling outfits in hot pink with KM20 branding.
Last but not least, Yoon Ahn and I decided that the second KM20 x AMBUSH collaboration has to happen. Prepare your lighters, because will hand you the coolest cases. Also, expect earrings and checkers.use
What events will be happening to celebrate the launch?
The best way to celebrate is by making a special piece or a capsule. This season one of the biggest projects of this anniversary is with 1017 ALYX 9SM. The brand will present an entire capsule collection that will feature sweatshirts, hoodies, bags, and accessories. Matthew and Jennifer Williams will take their first trip to Russia in the middle of November, which I have been raving about to everyone! Our parking space, famous for hosting the loudest parties in the city, will house the celebrations.
What do you think inspires current Moscow street style?
With the rise of social media and globalization, trends have become universal. The Russian fashion crowd is inspired by the same things as cool kids in New York, Seoul or London.
Without being modest, KM20 played a big part in changing the face of Moscow fashion and street style. Come to any party in town and you will see it for yourself. All the cool kids sport our brand-list: head to toe Raf Simons, Marine Serre catsuits, Cav Empt hoodies and tracksuits, 1017 ALYX 9SM chest rigs, Heron Preston “STYLE” crewnecks, and A-COLD-WALL* cross-body bags. The pioneers of cutting-edge fashion are often our customers.
How do you see the future of retail changing in the next 10 years and how will KM20 adapt to this?
The most obvious trend is having an extreme digital presence. The core idea of KM20 has always been to build a community around it. You could spend a whole day at our store, either shopping or meeting with friends on the terrace of our restaurant. Personally, I enjoy real-life experiences so much more when it comes to retail. Here, we aim to provide that feeling of being in the moment to our client.
I believe that brick and mortar is alive and well, but soon you will be able to teleport yourself to KM20 from your couch anywhere in the world using VR technology.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary, KM20 will be the first retailer in Russia to collaborate with Raf Simons. Tell us about how this came about and what form the collaboration will take?
Special products are one of the best ways for the designer to celebrate the store. We have been working with Raf Simons for 10 years straight and it’s been a truly wonderful and fruitful partnership. We put our heart and soul into the collaborations, highlighting our culture and personality of the store.
For our latest project, we decided to go for a tote bag. That it’s such a simple and accessible product is no accident. When conceiving the collab, we were looking for something super cool, usable, stylish, and most importantly, affordable for all Raf Simons fans in Russia. It features graphics in both Russian and English with signature Raf motifs. The stock is limited to just 50 pieces. For true KM20 and Raf fans only. We are very proud to consider this collaboration one of the strongest bottom lines of our ten-year anniversary.