Fashion Week in Moscow is unique for many reasons, the first being that any international editor hoping to attend must undergo a lengthy visa process before booking a flight or RSVP-ing "yes" to secure a front row seat. Because of this, European and American press tends to be more scarce in Moscow than in other alternative fashion cities like Seoul or Tbilisi, but those put off by the paperwork would be wise to rethink their position. Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia Spring 2018 wrapped late last week, and what we found there cemented the Baltic capital as an emerging hub for highly creative up-and-coming talent.
The widespread commercialization of Soviet and Post-Soviet culture has led to Communist insignia showing up on multiple Western runways over the past few seasons (even Gucci isn't immune — Alessandro Michele paid homage to the hammer and sickle for Fall 2017), but despite the apparent trendiness of their country's historic symbols, many of the designers we met in Moscow described the unique obstacles they face as young Russians trying to get ahead in the the industry. The political red tape works both ways in terms of border entry, which makes it difficult for many of them to leave the country and source manufacturers (in Italy, for example) or gain access to other raw, high-quality materials.
Hope, at least for a good number of them, comes in the form of grants by organizations like Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Founder Alexander Shumsky works alongside the Russian Fashion Council to allot an undisclosed amount of money towards nurturing promising talent each season. For Spring 2018, Lumier Garson by Jean Rudoff received financial backing and many others were allowed to show for free in a buzzy collective show held at Moscow's Museum of Fashion. The continued success of homegrown wunderkind Gosha Rubchinskiy is also undeniable; the native Moscovite is opening doors for his fellow countrymen in the same way Demna Gvsalia did for talent in Georgia and other areas of Eastern Europe.
Read on to get to know five Russian brands we suggest you keep on your radar in the coming year.
Lumier Garson by Jean Rudoff
By far one of the biggest draws of the week, Lumier Garson's Spring 2018 show was attended by all of Moscow's coolest young creatives. Designer Jean Rudoff aims to address broken cultural systems through fashion as a medium. Never without a thick silver grill and neck full of heavy necklaces, Rudoff's tough exterior belies a very kind and thoughtful personality.
Mach & Mach
Sisters Nina and Gvansta Macharashvili of Mach & Mach have garnered attention stateside thanks to Katy Perry, who wore five of their designs this year. The duo originally hails from Georgia, but choose to show in Moscow as well as Tbilisi each season. Best known (and loved) for their heavy use of crystal and feather, the sisters utilized sequins in their Spring 2018 collection to draw attention to how much plastic winds up floating in the ocean.
Menswear designer Artem Shumov operates out of Shanghai for the majority of the year, but comes back to Moscow to show each season. His collections typically center around tailoring, with a loose-fitting, alternative twist. The opening of his quick-paced Spring 2018 show caught everyone's attention: Shumov showed a red boiler suit in bright red to draw attention to Russia's AIDs crisis.
If you like Gosha Rubchinkskiy, then you'll likely love Volchok. The designer's punk-goth aesthetic speaks to political isolation, urban youth and disillusionment. Typically shown on models etched in head-to-toe tattoos, the brand's graphic tees and sweaters are easily its standout hits. The Spring 2018 collection utilized a muted palette of black and white with a handful of looks in matte lilac.
Yulia Turbo hit the ground running when Opening Ceremony picked up her first accessories collection back in 2012. Since then, she's been working to round out her brand to include a full range of gender neutral clothing. For Spring 2018, her construction-inspired collection included a winning neon yellow and blue parker thick enough to withstand Moscow's subzero winters and a tunic emblazoned with the Backstreet Boys. As of now, her brand is only available to shop via her Instagram account in America and Europe.