One of the most alluring parts of Gosha Rubchinskiy’s clothing, to Western eyes at least, is his use of Cyrillic, the alphabet that’s found across eastern Europe and Asia, from Serbia all the way to Mongolia.
Here in the West, Gosha’s graphics appear exotic because the Cyrillic alphabet is sort of like the Latin one used in English and most european languages, but at the same time totally different. It’s the same deal with Gosha’s clothing itself — he takes streetwear as we know it, but gives it distinctly Russian twists that make it feel unusual, but at the same time strangely familiar.
Last year, Gosha debuted a new skate label with long-time friend and pro-skater Tolia Titaev, named PACCBET. Well, it looks like it’s PACCBET, but it’s not — it’s actually рассвет. What’s the difference? Well, the first is in English, and the latter is in Russian, and that means it’s pronounced completely differently to how you’d think.
PACCBET's real meaning can be found by taking a quick look at the Russian alphabet.
Broadly speaking, English speakers can divide the Cyrillic into three sections.
There’s the characters that look the same as the ones we know, and are pronounced the same (“a” in Russian is still a).
There’s the ones that are completely different to anything you’ll find in our alphabet (like “ж“ — pronounced “zh”, or “я“ — which is “ya”).
Then, confusingly, there’s letters that look like Latin characters but are pronounced completely differently, and this is where Paccbet becomes something else entirely. In Cyrillic, “p” is pronounced “r”, “c” means “s” and “b” is actually “v”.
So, PACCBET looks like it’s pronounced “pakbet”, but it actually spells rassvet, and is pronounced “rassvyet”.
PACCBET's lost-in-translation pronunciation is something Russians find endlessly amusing — you’ll sometimes find Russians joking about “пакбет” on social media (that’s how you’d spell “paccbet” using Cyrillic).
Paccbet — “rassvyet” — means “dawn” or “sunrise” in Russian, and it’s been used in Gosha’s collections since the very beginning. Gosha might have become one of the most coveted labels in streetwear, regularly collaborating with some of the biggest names in the business, but at the end of the day, his message is pretty simple.
“The main idea is the beauty of Russia and its new generation” he once told BoF. Since the collapse of the USSR and the advent of social media, Russia has experienced a huge cultural upheaval, and is a thriving hotbed of young creativity.
Gosha’s work is all about embracing that energy and showing it to the world. That’s why young Russians are designing Gosha’s t-shirts, casting and soundtracking his shows, and starring in his lookbooks. He’s shown that there’s more to the country than oligarchs, vodka and freezing winters, and that’s the reason he’s a hero among so many young Russians.
So, PACCBET/рассвет/rassvyet is a positive message — a metaphor of Russia’s new creative rebirth. It’s poignant, and an amazing symbol of just how global streetwear is these days.
For more Gosha info, check out the hidden meanings behind some of the designer’s most popular graphics.