Under the Radar is Highsnobiety’s weekly celebration of upcoming talent brought to you by Avión Tequila. Each week, we’re spotlighting an emerging brand that’s bringing something new to the worlds of streetwear and fashion.
Much like other brands of this era, Siberia Hills built its core customer base through social media buzz. Aliens, Sailor Moon, Skepta in Fall/Winter 2019 purple-pink camo outerwear… a quick scroll through Siberia Hills' Instagram offers an eclectic insight into an emerging LA-based brand that has caught the attention of everyone from Travis Scott and Bella Hadid to Billie Eilish, who wore a few custom pieces during her US tour.
We caught up with founder Daf Orlovsky at his Paris Fashion Week showroom to learn how Siberia Hills is maturing, finding a place as a legitimate fashion brand beyond the hyped anime graphic pieces it sells out via its Spirit sub-line. And the story begins with an email from Kanye West.
"I met Kanye in New York, when I was in high school. I told him I wasn’t just a fan and that I wanted to work with him on clothing," Orlovsky says. "He gave me his email and cc’d Virgil [Abloh] on one of the messages. Seeing Kanye take me seriously in that moment gave me the first belief that I could really do this."
It seems like a dream come true, but a few years later Orlovsky found himself in less favorable circumstances, "failing out of Parsons Design School," as he puts it. To reconfigure his life and fashion industry dreams, Orlovsky took two months out to travel to the Himalayas and India, a journey that would come to heavily inform his embryonic, as-yet-unnamed brand.
Orlovsky's penchant for dark and often mystical graphics helped put Siberia Hills on the map, but it was arguably a limited run of Sailor Moon-inspired tees and hoodies that catalyzed the brand's growing popularity. Yet, with no sign of anime-emblazoned items at the Paris Fashion Week showroom, Orlovsky explains his decision to move the brand in a different direction.
"It’s done what it needed to do," he says of the Sailor Moon drop. "The brand started out with a much darker aesthetic and I feel like it went too far away from that. Those hoodies and shirts were all by Spirit, the diffusion brand by Siberia that freely moves when it comes to concepts.
"The Sailor graphic was just from my girlfriend wearing it when I woke up at her place. I knew it would make people feel a certain type of way, but it doesn’t do that for me anymore, and the whole brand comes from way too much of a personal place to keep going [in that direction]. I see a lot of other people and brands doing the whole anime thing, but I am here to project meaning to people and to constantly reinvent myself and the brand."
Orlovsky lists a range of dark and multifaceted provocateurs among his inspirations, from haunting 20th-century British painter Francis Bacon to early ’00s Eminem, Raf Simons, and Alexander McQueen. The Spring/Summer 2019 collection, shot against some monstrous cacti in the Arizona desert, gives off the vibe of an alien cult that listens to the Grateful Dead, with various extra-terrestrial embellishments on denim and tie-dyed fabrics, as well as cute-but-discomfiting mutant animal graphics on tees.
From the upcoming Fall/Winter 2019 collection, Orlovsky points to the tattoo long-sleeved tee as a key piece. Made from hemp and depicting Indian deity Ganesha, every panel of the shirt has been hand-sewn together for an artisanal-style finish.
The new season also sees Siberia Hills venture into outerwear with two pieces: a tiger camo goose down puffer and a peace camo M65 bomber jacket. Finally, as a culmination of all the aesthetics Siberia Hills has touched on so far, the brand is dropping a hand-sprayed, multicolored tie-dye shearling jacket that is sure to be a must-cop come fall.
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