Rising Russian menswear designer Gosha Rubshinsky is taking advantage of post-Soviet youth.
(Photography Bruna Kazinoti, Styling John Colver, Hair Alex Brownsell at Punishment, Make-up Nobuko Maekawa, model Benoit at Nine daughters and a Stereo)
Going against the grain of mainstream Russian fashion, Gosha Rubchinsky has very little in common with his gold, diamond and mink wearing counterparts. Far from a projection of wealth, power and status, Rubchinksy’s post-Soviet, youth culture inspired anarchic aesthetic shares cultural references closer to those of industrial post-punk, skaters and graffiti than it does to the world of oligarchs, billionaires and their wives.
Rubchinksy’s first collection was presented at the end of 2008 for Spring/Summer 09, titled ‘Empire of Evil’ and clearly drew the line for his following collections. Influenced heavily by Russia’s seemingly unanimous obsession with sportswear, emerging after the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, his interest can be examined in two ways. The first an inherent interest in the kids growing up in a country undergoing huge political and social change and the second a reflection on a society previously unconnected to western consumerism.
His latest collection takes these ideas and evolves them. Presented in three parts at the Cycles and Seasons event in Moscow, his Spring 2010 offering incorporates a breathtaking film, a book of photographs shot mainly by his friends and a performance as opposed to a catwalk show. Shown in a disused gym in Moscow’s suburbs, Rubchinksy had his shaved head, tough looking models work out in the collection for an hour, instead of walking a runway. We featured Rubchinsky in the current issue of Dazed but on Dazed Digital we delved deeper into the his work and his influences.
What made you make the decision that you wanted to design clothes?
Gosha Rubshinsky: I started working in fashion design five years ago, assisting other Russian fashion designers and working as a stylist for movies. My first collection was SS09.
I was interested in creating an image from the very beginning, from my childhood I was interested in created images and pictures and then I got into fashion styling, and from that into designing.
When I was working with other designers I realised that their frames and ideas were too tight for me and I wanted to not confront their ideas, and not to argue with them, but to create my own thing.
Who do you design for? Who do you want to wear your clothes?
Gosha Rubshinsky: At the same time I was working with the other fashion designers, at the beginning, I met these young guys, these young kids, who were one generation younger than me. All these young people who were born after 1991, and it was just a coincidence because at the same time I realized that these were the same people that I wanted to design for.
What was interesting was that this was the first generation that grew up that doesn’t have the Soviet background, the feeling of being different from all other parts of the world, they feel the same as all the other kids all over the world. There is this clash of Russian mentality, between the way they are living now and the Soviet background, which they get from their parents.
S/S 09 Collection - 'An Empire of Evil'
What is the inspiration behind the Spring Summer 2010 collection?
Gosha Rubshinsky: It’s the closing collection of the trilogy. The first one was called An Empire of Evil, the second one Growing and Expanding and this one is The Dawn, The Sunrise is not far behind the mountains. All three collections were dedicated to these young kids and their devotion. It is the clash of sports and feelings of childhood being behind them already. In the first collection I tried to recreate the environment I had when younger. We showed it in a big stadium and we had around 700 guests then. The idea was to show the clothes to the most possible amount of people. The second collection we showed in an old church, which was turned into a children’s sports hall and we only showed to a very closed amount of people, journalists and editors. It was dedicated to the positioning of the generation of the young man in a society and religion.
The third one wasn’t a show; it was a presentation that consisted of three parts. The first was a video shot in St Petersburg, it was 22mins long. It was about our friends and skaters, showing what is going on around us. The second was a book. I has asked my young friends to take photographs which represent the summer to them, and I collected them together in this book. And the third part of the presentation was the collection itself. We created an old school suburb gym where there were twelve guys working out for one hour.
A/W 09 Collection - 'Growing and Expanding'
You are also a photographer. What are you trying to portray with your images?
Gosha Rubshinsky: I started taking pictures, photographing quite a long time ago. I was going to the photo school and I had this Soviet camera called a Zenith and I was just taking pictures of my friends for myself, so I just started photographing and I moved into using really simple cameras and I was taking pictures of my friends for five years.
What made you want to go further than just creating clothing?
Gosha Rubshinsky: Me and my team have realized that the ideas and frames of reference that we have are a lot bigger than just designing clothes, so the messages we wanted to deliver to our viewers we cannot deliver this message only through clothes, we needed other ways of expression.
S/S 10 Collection - 'The Dawn'
Your work has a subversive side to it, but at the same time seems respectful of Russian tradition. Is Russian tradition important to you?
Gosha Rubshinsky: I wouldn’t call it tradition but what really makes an impact on me is the relation with religion in Russia and the soul of Russians. We relate to each other in the way we communicate comes a lot from this Russian literature you study when you are at school, this is important to me.
Has being a part of post Soviet Russia had an influence on you?
Gosha Rubshinsky: That what I meant, when I was talking about my first collection. I was talking about growing up in post Soviet Russia. The sportswear brands that were sold in Russia, everyone, young boys or our parents, we were all wearing sportswear. For me I like sportswear and as a teenager it was very difficult for me to wear classic clothes.
Photographed at the S/S 10 performance presentation.
What are the opportunities like for a young Russian designer?
Gosha Rubshinsky: The opportunity that Russia holds is to try to expand to the whole of the country because it is such a huge country. The difficulty is the production; those systems are not in place here yet. No matter how famous you are in Moscow it will take you a long time to become famous in the rest of Russia, but with the internet it is now of course much easier to get into the furthest regions of Russia. I am trying though, and the last collection was actually helped by some students from a really strong school quite far from Moscow, in a place called Omsk. At the moment my clothes are only stocked in Moscow and St Petersburg
Would you ever consider moving to the USA or UK for work?
Gosha Rubshinsky: I could do that temporarily, I could do that for some time, but I would definitely come back as everything that inspires me is in Russia.
S/S 10 Film