Remember Kira Plastinina, the teen daughter of Russian millionaire Sergei Plastinina, who, in 2008, launched a namesake fast fashion line, opened 12 stores in the U.S., closed them, and filed for bankruptcy, all in less than a year?
Well, she's back, and preparing to launch her higher-end line--Lublu by Kira Plastinina--in the U.S., in what sounds like a much more practical way. Lublu, Russian for "I love you" rings in at a designer price point, and looks like a legitimate, sophisticated designer clothing line. Plastinina actually launched Lublu shortly after her namesake line in 2008, with a runway show during Milan fashion week. Though, until now, it hasn't been available in the U.S. The first U.S. Lublu store will open this summer in Dallas, where Plastinina, now 21, goes to school.
Plastinina also tapped fashion insiders like Tommy Ton, Miroslava Duma, The Man Repeller's Leandra Medine, Dannijo's Danielle and Jodi Snyder, and Candice Lake, to shoot and star in her fall 2013 campaign, respectively--lending the line a bit of industry cred.
We chatted with Plastinina over the phone about her Lublu's American debut, what she's learned since her first attempt at a U.S. retail takeover, and if she plans to show during New York fashion week. Read on for our interview.
Fashionista: You're in Moscow now--are you living there? Kira Plastinina: My family lives in Moscow and I grew up here and I go to college in Dallas, but my company’s based in Moscow, so I come here every month to work. I also come here every month during the school year and I always come during my breaks and for the whole summer. I’ve been here for a month. I just finished my third year at Southern Methodist University.
We know about your namesake line, but how did Lublu come about? When I was 14 we started with the fast fashion line, and every season I would come up with a separate collection to show in the fashion show. A lot of people started coming up to us asking where can we get the pieces from the fashion show, and we decided to make it its own brand.
What's the price range? Average would be $500 or $600, but we have some evening dresses that are a little more expensive, like a little over $1,000, but overall it’s a designer price point.
Do you have a very big design team? How involved are you? It's just me and my assistant designer and we do everything together. I’ll come up with a lot of designs and I’ll explain them to my assistant designer and we’ll start working on them and then she’ll keep working on them while I’m in Dallas and she’ll send me pictures daily and we’re constantly in touch, so when I come back the pieces are made and I try them on myself and make sure they not only look good but they also have a good fit and then we go from there. I'm very involved in the design side and the business side.
You opened a lot of stores really fast with your namesake line and even said you wanted to open 50 U.S. stores right away. Do you plan to do things differently this time around? Originally when we started with the fast fashion brand, we didn’t really have good timing. We opened 16 stores right before the [economic] crisis happened, so then we redirected our energies to a different market and now we’re coming back with Lublu. We're working through showrooms and finding retail partners and the store in Dallas will be the only store, but we’re planning on opening more in the future. We’ve learned from our past experiences in the U.S. market and now I believe we have more insight and we’ll be more strategic and focused while we launch Lublu. We really believe that Lublu will do well in the U.S. market.
Why did you choose Dallas to launch the first store? Is it because you're going to school there? Obviously, I love SMU and I love being a student there, but I also really like Dallas and Texas in general. I think it’s a great place to live. The people there are so fashionable and so nice, but also I felt like Lublu will resonate with Dallas women's style. We also believe business-wise it's a good market.
Do you think you would open a store in New York next? We don't know yet; we’ll see how the store in Dallas does and by the time we decide we’re ready for the second store we’ll be able to tell.
What about showing at fashion week? That’s definitely our plan in the future, not in the near future but in a few years, that’s definitely a goal that we aspire to. Hopefully we'll show during New York Fashion Week at some point. But we’re planning on waiting a little bit and having more of a presence in the States.
Can you tell me about your fall campaign with all those great street style stars? How did that come about? That was a fun street style project we did in February and it was a really fun, girly environment and my friends came to support me and we all tried on different outfits and took pictures together. I felt like this type of photoshoot with Tommy [Ton] would communicate the whole essence of the brand; it’s clothes for really stylish girls that are jet setting all over the world, always busy, living a very interesting life and always having different events to go to, so they need different outfits for every part of their busy life. And I feel like I’m strongest at designing cocktail dresses and evening outfits. Leandra, Mira and Tommy are just my friends, we were all in town together doing New York fashion week, so it was just a fun project that we did.
Where do you manufacture everything? This past year we started our own production house, just two hours outside of our design studio in Moscow, so everything for Lublu is made in Russia, in-house in our own facility. It's been amazing since we started producing our own clothing, because we’ve been able to enhance quality control and be more flexible to the demands of the market. For example, our production schedule was cut down from nine months to two months, which gives us incredible flexibility.
Is Kira Plastinina, the fast fashion line, still around? We still have the fast fashion line. I work on both lines. Lublu is just the one we’re bringing to the United States. The fast fashion line is doing great. Right now we have almost 300 of our own stores in a few countries including Russia--that is also keeping me really busy.
Would you ever bring that line back to the U.S.? Possibly; I don't exclude the possibility. Maybe in the future we will, but for now we decided to start with Lublu.
Click through for more of Lublu's fall collection.