The Eastern Bloc Affair: A Fashion Uprising

A few years ago, our minds would never have associated fashion with the countries of the ex-USSR. Let’s face it,  ex-USSR members are generally misconceived by the west and are often wrongfully associated with civil unrest and financially unstable backgrounds. Some even question the legitimacy of these countries by asking, “Is there a country by that name?” Little did we know that some of these Eastern countries have huge potential and can rise up to be next fashion capital of the world.

Even though the line between the Eastern Bloc and the Western Bloc has disappeared, the scars of the past will always be visible. However, today’s young fashion designers are taking a stand and deciding to turn these sad perceptions into inspiration for their creations.

  1. Gosha Rubchinskiy

Refusing to label his designs as “post-Soviet fashion”, Gosha is one of Russia’s first designers who has embraced the movement. Since 2009, his collections depict a shift in Russia, from a once secluded, exclusive empire to liberalised, and (recently) westernised community. His pieces are both casual and wearable as everyday staples – some people may not regard them as particularly fashionable at all) – but what differentiates him from other designers is how he represents his country, language, and historical value throughout his collections. It is common for Gosha to print Russian phrases on his pieces. He currently has more than 150 stockists around the world and continues to show his collections during important fashion weeks.

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Gosha Rubchinskiy A/W 2015 Collection

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Gosha Rubchinskiy S/S 2016 Collection

     2. Demna Gvasalia

Georgian-born fashion designer, Demna Gvasalia,  is definitely a new designer to watch. The current creative director of Balenciaga and the urban wear brand Vetements hailed from a Georgian town called Sukhumi. He has previously worked with Louis Vuitton from 2013 to 2015. Gvasalia is seen as an artist with a unique approach to design. His work plays with silhouettes, oversized tailoring, and redefined femininity. No doubt that he is an inspiration for young Eastern-European designers.

Balenciaga F/W 2016 Collection
Vetements S/S 2017 Collection
Vetements S/S 2017 Collection

     3. Yulia Yefimtchuk

Ukrainian based fashion designer Yulia Yefimtchuk has proved that Eastern-European working class women can be just as fashion-conscious as women from liberal countries. This interpretation of working class women is highlighted in her collections.  Yulia manages to blend in masculine elements into her designs without overshadowing femininity. She was awarded an “Opening Ceremony Distinction” in the 2014 Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography.

Yulia Yefimtchuk S/S 16 Collection
Yulia Yefimtchuk F/W 16 Collection
Yulia Yefimtchuk for Hyeres Festival

Today’s common perception about post-Soviet fashion tends to be about ultra-casual clothing, logos and pictures of branded consumer goods (since the fall of communism, post-Soviet countries were exposed to different international brands), and sporty vibes, which radiate through the clothing. Which is unfair because it’s now much more than just about a t-shirt with DHL logo on it (made popular by Vetements), it’s about exposing themselves and trying to open up to connect to the rest of the world through designs that resonate their history. Since some of the countries that were included in Eastern Bloc are now booming in their fashion industry, it’s exciting to say that their influence towards the status quo is getting stronger.

For people who were born in post-Soviet countries, I love your creative sense.

Written by Florencia Owen Irena

Pictures via Goscha Rubchinskiy, Vetements, Yulia Yefimtchuk, Vogue

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