by: Don G / @lbdStreetFashion
I’ve been following fashion trends in Europe for some time now. Lately my gaze has focused on youth cultures in Russia. Their fashion is the craze right now with streetwear and more particularly fake streetwear scene booming. I wanted to find what was driving Russia’s thriving market for streetwear and fake streetwear. Was it economics or artistic talent? My research led me to Kelly Conner, a Vogue.com’s Market Editor and Denim Editor. In her article, Why I’ve Fallen for Men’s Designer Gosha Rubchinskiy and His Streetwear Take on Post-Soviet Style October 8, 2015, she covered Russian Fashion Designer and Photographer and the founder of the GOSHA RUBCHINSKIY (ГОША РУБЧИНСКИЙ) brand Georgiy Aleksandrovich Rubchinskiy, better known as Gosha Rubchinskiy.
Kelly covered how she got along with the Russian Designer and his streetwear take on post-soviet skater style. She establish some constraints on her reasons for falling for Gosha Rubchinskiy’s post-soviet youth culture references by affirming that Rubchinskiy’s collections symbolizes a time of enormous possibilities for the Russian population.
In my critique of her 2015 Vogue Magazine article, I question that reasoning. I consider Gosha one of Russsia’s most influential designers of our time, but not its most radical, extraordinary, tier one gift to the free world. (…too much) In a fragile Communistic isolated country facing international sanctions, low wages, and almost 30 years since collapse of the Soviet Union how does Gosha Rubchinskiy’s collection keep cheeky uniforms and post soviet era styled skater streetwear cool? What trends have changed in Russian streetwear since the writing of that article? Why should I care about Gosha Rubchinskiy in the first place? Hmmm… does my lack of Russian fashion coolness bar me from a right to ask those questions?
In the beginning of the article, Kelly described how ignorant she was about Gosha Rubchinskiy’s work. However, once she discovered who he was suddenly it seemed like his influence was everywhere. She described the experience saying, “You know the feeling where as soon as you discover something for the first time, then it suddenly seems that it’s everywhere. It happens to almost everyone.” Kelly likened the popularity of Gosha Rubchinskiy to a sort of downtown Supreme-like cult label but with much deeper subtext.
This is absolutely true because Gosha Rubchinskiy’s aesthetics take influence and inspiration from the fall of iron curtain, and the Russian street and youth culture in a way that has garnered a Supreme-like cult following not only in Russia but globally.
I see Gosha’s fascination with making references to Russia’s orthodox past through glimpses of imagery and style that express a country undergoing political, economic and cultural turmoil whilst proving that its maker belongs to a post-Soviet generation bent on creative change. His style succeeds in my opinion to tell a visual story of Russia’s rebellious youth and their outlets through smoking, skateboarding and graffiti apparent in photography work, installation pieces, and garment choices.
Kelly gave a rundown on how her friend Matt Foley explained to her over dinner some of the subtext of Gosha Rubchinskiy, “like the logo being part of the brand, almost a post-communist twist on Tommy Hilfiger”. She further showed her strong curiosity in knowing more about Rubchinskiy and what he represents by pouring over his collections, videos, blog, etc and also waited for the release of his new book “Youth Hotel (Idea)”, at Dover Street Market.
I would have to say that after reading about Gosha and his work over the past decade, he has really made a name for himself in the fashion industry in a way that resonates with not only fashion, but classical artistic roots.
For example, when he presented his recent SS17 show stated at Pitti Uomo, Gosha presented his collection in three parts – a runway show, a film, and a series of photos, both entitled The Day of My Death, exhibited at the fair and later published as a book by IDEA. In 2011 Gosha launched the project Transfiguration in a gallery space attached to a photography workshop and skate-park on the island of New Holland in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
In final section of her article, Kelly expanded more on Gosha’s collections and what it symbolized. Where his plaid coat for example, was inspired by the traditional grocery bags that babushkas carried to and from the market. Kelly also tried to defend herself for initially not getting along with Gosha Rubchinskiy with reasons of growing up in San Diego to which I disagree with based on the fact Gosha’s collections have been popular in San Diego for a very long time so there was little excuse to not get what he’s about.
We both have to call it like it is, we were uninformed. Kelly stresses that Gosha’s work explores the parallel differences throughout global youth culture. She added that the same way that wearing a certain streetwear label can make you feel like you’re part of something larger than yourself Gosha’s ability to transform cheeky uniforms and elements of the post-soviet world into something cool is something she have never before encountered in fashion. I have a hard time believing that she has never before encountered those elements in fashion. Visit any Slavic country and you will see today’s youth wearing that type of fashion.
Kelly cited a case in point where Gosha himself walked the “talk of town Vetements show in Paris in a reworked DHL T-shirt, no less-quite literally delivering us this new band of up and coming cool kids, masters of deconstructing the ordinary to create the extraordinary. As a student of fashion, I’m inclined to agree that Gosha is very relevant to the cool kids of the fashion world, but his work isn’t extraordinary. It does revive the hopes and dreams in my mind of connecting all of us, in the streetwear culture, in a way that still appreciates the aesthetic influence of a nostalgic pass that is ever so quickly fading away.
What is it for the new generation? We tried to build it for young people . . . because now, in Instagram, Internet time, all young people, they can be all together and know what’s going on anywhere in the world. They are . . . united under the same times, united by streetwear and music and whatever else,” ~Gosha Rubchinskiy.