In the ’80s, Japanese designers led a revolution on Parisian runways. In the ‘90s, Americans followed. Now, creators from the former Soviet Bloc are speaking the language of French style with a Russian accent. Here, Nikita Moiseenko, designer of Sorry, I’m Not, reflects on creating in Paris’s shadow and owning the phrase “Made in Russia:”
“I’m living in one of Moscow’s ghetto districts called Tekstilshiki. Like New York, we have a city center, but the districts are far away. Mine is situated between the second and third rings of Moscow. It’s a place for homebodies, because there’s nothing near us. When I go out at night to walk my dog, I only see police cars rolling through. It’s a crime district, but I’m from a small town in Siberia, so I’m not afraid of anything—not police cars or criminals.
To me, Paris was always the fashion capital—a perfect statuette of fashion. It was like Parisians are the producers—the core—while we’re the consumers, the ones eating it. I’m proud to be one of the people in Russia waving our flag, because no one in Russia wants to do this. They think there’s no point, because it’s already being done in New York, Milan, and Paris.
I’m proud of those who can succeed in Russia, because it’s difficult to catch a wave of success. Everyone saw Ulyana Sergeenko as an outcast—she was misunderstood—until she gained popularity outside of Russia. Now, all of the small brands copy her. It was the same with Gosha Rubchinskiy’s style, which mimicked guys from working districts. For us, it’s normal to look like Gosha’s models. When I looked at photos taken during London Fashion Week, I laughed because I saw a person who looked like he was from a Russian ghetto, but he was a street-style star. To us, he could be a robber!
Because of Gosha, we now have a model of how we can succeed as Russian brands. I get a lot of inquiries for celebrity dressing from outside of Russia. I have never been to the United States, so my dresses have traveled much more than me. Every week, we send a dress to New York or Hollywood. The Internet has brought my brand closer to the world.
It has already been 100 years without the Russian monarchy, but the impact it had on fashion still exists. Back then, it was about everybody being equal. People had no identity. If you went to the market, everybody wore the same thing, and they produced their clothing themselves.
When I was growing up in Russia, there was a lot of fake sportswear coming from China. If you had original Adidas, it meant that you must be rich. Adidas was like what Vetements is now. If you wore that, it was like, “Oh my God!” You were really a fashionable guy. Because of the Iron Curtain, brands that were not produced in Russia were not allowed inside. So if you had it, it meant that you probably had a business trip and were allowed to go outside the country. It wasn’t about Gucci, Chanel, or Dior. For Russians, having white sneakers was outstanding.
Even after 20 years, the mindset is still that we only want to shop for things made outside of Russia, but that’s changing. The new generation isn’t about labels. They are about what’s going on all over the world now. We see that there’s inequality. We see that most people can’t get into the fashion world, because if you’re selling a luxury brand, no one can afford it.
We are merging these two big planets of the working class and the rich people—it’s the most important thing in fashion. This new style of merging luxury with the look of the working class, it was born here.”
Words Nikita Moiseenko, designer of Sorry, I’m Not, as told to Ray Siegel
Fashion Ben Perreira
Photographs Andrew Vowles, CR Fashion Book Issue 10
Makeup Sergio Corvacho
Hair Olivier de VriendtEND
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