Setting our sights to the world's largest nation, we take a look at the 10 Russian brands every Highsnobiety reader should know. While they're far and few between, their contribution to the world of fashion is undoubtedly unique and offers a perspective far different from the rest.
While it's tempting to linger on the mental image of Irina Shayk clad in nothing but a fur shawl, Russia's fashion landscape does have a wider breadth of offerings. The culture is much the same as other fashion hubs: passionate creatives are striving to make their mark, albeit Russian fashion circles may be smaller and more closely knit.
For some Russian brands, the country's fashion infrastructure may not be deeply rooted enough to underpin more than a small handful of names, which have experienced limited success internationally. Many of the most esteemed designers opt to leave Russia, thirsting after a bigger stage and greater challenges. The posterboy of Russian streetwear of late has undoubtedly been Gosha Rubchinskiy, a photographer-turned-designer who has captured audiences around the world with his honest designs. As such, we were compelled to dig deeper into the Russian fashion sphere. Take a look at our list below.
To echo a quote from Gosha himself; "I want to speak internationally but with a Russian accent." Youth culture is at the backbone of Gosha's creations, which incorporate cues from streetwear, skateboarding, and working class Russia. Top-tier retailers around the globe have wasted no time in stocking their shelves with gear designed by Rubchinskiy, who has partnered with Vans and Camper in recent months to great effect. If Gosha's eponymous label wasn't covetable enough already, COMME des GARÇONS signed on to handle all production. Gosha also featured as a cover star for the 10th issue of Highsnobiety Magazine.
Grunge John Orchestra. Explosion
Grunge John Orchestra. Explosion's made-in-Moscow winter jackets seem to spare no expense. Japanese microfiber, premium waterproof cotton and other carefully sourced fabrics are insisted upon by founder Igor Isaev, who makes a point of using the best functional textiles available. Although military garments and workwear serve to partially inspire Isaev, the brand is difficult to categorize. Isaev himself describes the Grunge John philosophy as "new urbanism", every garments represents utility of the utmost degree, yet each piece has its own unique character.
Leather goods brand Ф22 was founded in 2010 by Mike Frolov, with the aim of creating quality products through sensible design and practical purpose. Highlights of the Moscow-based brand's catalog include leather card holders, bi-fold wallets, and other simple goods crafted with fold construction techniques.
Спутник 1985 (Sputnik 1985)
Vintage TV shows, prison tattoos, and Soviet boxers. These are among the key inspirations for Sergey Pakhotin, brand head of Спутник 1985 or "Sputnik 1985". From the Cyrillic script graphics to the very name of the brand, Спутник 1985 appears to be a holistic representation of Russian streetwear culture. The gear is simple and to-the-point, and graphics typically communicate irreverent sentiments like "I am worse than you" or "I will always be against."
Plokhov's design resume includes names like Uniqlo, Versace, Marc Jacobs and now Helmut Lang, where he currently occupies the role of Menswear Director. The 48-year-old designer easily contends with the fashion community's most celebrated names, and has continually been praised for his adept tailoring.
ZIQ & YONI
One of Russia's most recognized players, ZIQ & YONI was founded by Russian and American partners in 2010 as a streetwear label, retailer and lifestyle site. Since its establishment five years ago, the Russian imprint has been able to work alongside partners like Vans, G-Shock, Skullcandy and others. While operating its own e-commerce site, ZIQ & YONI is also sold in boutiques across Russia, including Kixbox.
Like many streetwear imprints, the story of St. Petersburg's Anteater all started with a run of graphic T-shirts in 2007. Anteater was established as an in-house label for Russian retailer CREAMmag, yet after working closely with musicians, illustrators, graffiti artists and more, the idea quickly grew into a full range of accessories and ready-to-wear garments that show a strong propensity for cut & sew. Certainly one of the most memorable Anteater projects was the Anteater x Saucony Jazz Original "Sea & Sand".
Headed up by Yulia Makarova, avant garde futurist brand Turbo Yulia aim to merge art and fashion with each collection. Navigating through the brand's bizarre aesthetic, one shouldn't be surprised to find aerodynamic helmets, iridescent holographic textile, or vivid prints of horses and girls. Since the brand was instituted in 2010, Turbo Yulia has not only delivered seasonal collections, but has also contributed bespoke pieces for theatre and circus performances.
AFour is the Russian sneaker label you've been sleeping on. In 2009, two Russian sneakerheads decided to throw their hat in the ring with the world's best-known sneaker labels by creating a premium brand. Each model is developed in the AFour laboratory and made by hand in the workshop in St. Petersburg, Russia. Constructed from all the bells and whistles you might expect from a Ronnie Fieg or CNCPTS execution, AFour sources leather samples from Italy and Russia, as well as soles from Vibram.
In 2014, Central Saint Martins graduate Tigran Avetisyan unveiled his graduate collection under the sponsorship of LVMH. The collection was met with critical acclaim, and having paid his dues at fashion school, Tigran has now settled down in Moscow. As a product of Russia's tumultuous social landscape, Tigran's creations express a balance between experiences from his home country and the duration of his time being schooled in London. Before cutting his teeth at CSM, Avetisyan was interning for exalted fashion labele Acne in Sweden.
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