As you may have read in our interview with Kyiv-based clothing label Logic clothes last week, post-Soviet fashion designers are buzzing at the moment. Designers such as Demna Gvasalia (Georgia), Gosha Rubchinskiy (Russia) and Anton Belinskiy (Ukraine) are taking the world by storm with their distinct styles and refreshingly cool and unique designs. Sometimes adorned with brutal Soviet characteristics, occasionally with a hint of gopnik-esque streetwear, other times feminine, practical, or with a strong political message.
You know it’s becoming a big deal when Vogue starts covering Ukraine Fashion Week. Even so, there are also plenty of labels that have not really made it to the international fashion press (yet), but are nevertheless worth checking out. We listed some designers here that we think are deserving of your support and admiration, whilst ever so coolly embodying the contemporary creative Ukrainian spirit.
ASKOTAXIST mostly showcases pieces that are simple, practical, and black, but with the occasional surprising, erotic twist that leaves enough space to display some (tattooed) skin. This is streetwear in a pure form, with a hint of goth, yet functional, classical, and mostly unisex. Founded by two graffiti artists from Odessa, ASKOTAXIST creates timeless pieces rather than fashionable, trendy clothing that is mass-discarded at the end of the season. And, most of all, designers whom have their models posing with watermelons naturally deserve our eternal following.
A fashion designer’s website that welcomes you with “#intelligentprovocation” immediately has our attention. Debuting at the Ukraine Fashion Week in 2014, designer Ivan Frolov has successfully introduced his intriguing designs to the world. With strong references to sex and gender, and craftfully tailored silhouettes, he has proven Ukraine’s fashion potential to be incredibly diverse. Using underwear as outerwear and featuring some details and accessories that would not look out of place in a fetish club, provocative his works are indeed. He seems to have a strong preference for earth tones and natural colours, but of course red, the most erotic colour of all, plays a strong role in Frolovs collections, too.
Playful, feminine, and a mix between casual and dressy: Lake Studio uses elements of traditional Ukrainian tailoring, such as embroidery, and pairs them with contemporary clean lines and sleek details. Comfort and the use of luxurious fabrics are key to the creations of Anastasia Riabokon and Olesya Kononova. Classics such as florals and the occasional leopard print are also present in their collections, usually in combination with neutral earth tones. This label oozes elegance and has already started attracting international attention, which will undoubtedly only increase in the time to come.
Another designer with a thought-provoking welcoming message on his website: Heroes of Mighty Boner. Apart from that, what catches the eye in Sasha Kanevski‘s collections is the knitwear, which somehow draws references to armours, giving his jumpers a strong, square look. Other characteristics of Kanevski’s style are the 90s-inspired streetwear, unisex designs, and the use of tribal symbols and letters. He might be one of the few menswear designers in the country, however, his label is truly all-round and versatile: prints, hoodies with skeletons, and feminine dresses can also be found in his lookbooks. Using mostly natural fabrics, the emphasis is not just on aesthetics, but also on comfort and function.
A lot of the Post-Soviet fashion designers that recently gained popularity have a very distinct raw, streetwear-inspired, androgynous style. But SLAVA uses the traits we would probably typically associate with Ukrainian women’s fashion (ultra-feminine, luxurious), and puts them in a modern shape. Designer Yaroslava Barilo declares to be inspired by modern aristocracy, which you can tell from her designs – not in the least due to the use of indulgent fabrics like fur, velvet, and wool. Focusing on high-quality pieces, clear-cut lines, soft colours, and surprising details, SLAVA recreates modern femininity, Ukrainian style.
Special mention: Yulia Yefimtchuk
She may no longer be under the radar, but Yulia Yefimtchuk (featured photo) should be introduced to those who do not already know her. If we are talking about Soviet-inspired fashion, few designers are as obvious as this Kyiv-based rising star. Any Komsomol member would wear her designs with pride, that is how apparent Communist and Soviet heritage is in her creations. Cyrillic typography, a lot of bold reds, stars, the usage of propaganda slogans on her clothing: Yefimtchuk believes that fashion and politics are intrinsically connected, and sees her pieces as a way of protesting the old system. However, not being a one-trick pony, Yefimtchuk’s collections also feature some Communism-free clean-cut, graphical silhouettes in mostly black, white, and reds.