The “Sudden” Rise of Russia’s Gopnik Fashion
Is Russian fashion just a hype or is it simply the next big thing that came after Alexander Wang’s streetstyle breakthrough?
Whats the cause?
Ok well without a doubt, looking back at 2016 and looking forward for the new year, Russian street style fashion has and will continue being a literal social media phenomenon going from dressing every single ‘it’ girl of the season to being featured on every top blogger and being proudly featured on top global fashion magazines around the world.
Let’s look at the general and recent rise of Russia in terms of renewed economic growth, strong economic nationalism, and power which lately seems to correlate with the success of many emerging designers entering the international fashion landscape. Russia is said to be seeing a rising tide of explicit nationalism, which is strengthened around the presidency of Vladimir Putin making an impact on the Russian fashion industry, on the business side, and consequently the design aesthetics of the leading fashion designers.
Moreover, the logo-mania trend combined with streetwear and an edge of pure esoteric/grunginess does reflect Muscovite’s sub culture of the post-soviet 90’s era. A time where the youth were provokingly fetishizing big logos and brands of the west ( a rarity which was difficult to get at the time).
Although the post-soviet Universe may seem foreign to most of us (especially for the west), its giving off a new sense and evolution to the streetwear we’ve seen in the past going where Russian Vogue editor, describes the style as “Gopnik- Гопник”, a Russian pejorative term used to describe, ghetto bad boys from suburbs usually under their 30’s, known for wearing flat cap, sunglasses , Adidas tracksuits , fake PVC loafers or dress shoes, and often seen standing in a squat position ( a learned behavior that is attributed to prison habits)
“we lived in tough times, during the Post Soviet Union, I remember walking on the streets from school we’d often cross paths with burning cars, gun shots, and many people losing their lives on the streets on a daily basis, it was a dark time.”
“ I also remember us always dressing like the style Rubchinskiy is doing today, personally for me it reminds me of the hard times” says Alex, an early 30’s Russian photographer currently living in Shanghai.
Indeed, most likely one of the biggest sought after names this year is designer Gosha Rubchinskiy’s , cult stylist Lotta Volkova ( predominately known for her styling with Vetements as well as walking in the show for the past 2 seasons), and Vetements artistic director, Demna Gvasalia, all part of the post-Soviet Union Russian on the rise, who either live or spend time in Western Europe and incorporate their own nostalgic Soviet-influenced experience of the ’90s into their creations. They are showing the West what it’s like put one foot underground and the other on a luxury pedestal looks like, or as Vogue US describes it “where bad taste meets good aesthetic”.
Gosha Rubchinskiy / Demna Gvasalia
Lotta Volkova Insta Photo
Oversized XXL forms, track pants, high waisted jeans tied with shoelaces, and sweaters showcasing key Soviet dates such as 1984 or the communist symbol, the hammer and sickle, recently provoking western media attention, “It’s a bit of humor. I want to provoke people” is Rubchinskiy’s response to The Guardian on his latest designs ( the red shirt with the hammer and sickly) which sold out almost instantly.
Gosha Rubchinskiy Collection
But as with all of fashion’s trends, there’s the risk of overexposure and then a sort of fad-related dullness to something overseen. Not so with this movement, says Volkova (to Vogue US), “I don’t think it suddenly became so trendy. I just think people never really talked about it before as much, or showed it in that kind of way,” says the stylist considering this wave of post-Soviet visuals to be a movement based on a new voice from a different perspective. “I’m interested in looking at things differently. I’m interested in looking at something that we aren’t necessarily used to being considered beautiful” she says.
Lotta Volkova Photo
On a more economic point for the potential reason behind the rise of Russian fashion is the initiation of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, where North America and most European nations imposed severe sanctions on Russia in terms of trade and export while the value of the rouble was on a decline, meaning that importing goods from the outside became more expensive.
“Russians were buying less at higher prices when purchasing goods produced outside of Russia leading them to opt for domestic brands, including fashion. Added to this has been a feeling of being attacked by outside forces, with the Russian media regularly talking of a concerted effort by western powers to weaken the country’s power.” – EuropeanCEO Media
Gosha Rubchinskiy Collection
Moreover Russia recently injected a multi-million rouble subsidy project ( under the name showroom #35) in order to promote Russia’s top fashion designers and Russian textiles.
Hence, as we know fashion is also an expression of our historical culture and the political situations we experienced such as the Victorian Era, Edwardian Era, etc. I leave it up to you to tell me if you think we are now entering a Post Soviet-Punk Era movement that is here to last.
Photo taken by Marusia, Makeup by Cindy Dee, wearing Sirloin Bomber and Mahny Jelwery