Eastern European fashion had a major moment in 2016, thanks to the cult of Vetements and Gosha Rubchinskiy as well as a fresh spotlight on emerging fashion industries in countries like Georgia. But thanks to a variety of cultural and political factors, the region’s reign is no passing trend. Here, eight reasons why Eastern Europe is still poised to rule the runways in 2017.
Will we be seeing President-elect Donald Trump’s face emblazoned on T-shirts worn by Muscovites? It’s not such a far-off prediction. During the Obama administration, Moscow was rife with anti-Obama and anti-America-themed souvenir clothing. Now, with a pro-Putin president set to take office and support for Trump surging in Russia, it will be interesting to see how the country adopts Trump’s larger-than-life personality, and love of branded merch, in the world of fashion.
Historically, countries that are in conflict with Russia, like Georgia and Ukraine, have translated their own national pride through clothing. Though folksy, cultural dress like Ukraine’s vyshyvanka may not make a comeback (the trend likely hit its peak this year), we should expect different forms of motherland motifs to filter through on the runways. Kiev-based designers like Ksenia Schnaider and Anton Belinskiy both channeled Ukrainian culture in their most recent collections, while Georgian label Situationist went as far as to show a Georgian flag on the runway.
Vetements may have been the catalyst for introducing the fashion world to Georgia, but the country also proved itself to have a standalone and noteworthy creative industry. This year lead to the discovery of young labels like George Keburia, Nicolas Grigorian, and LTFR, as well as more established designers like Tamuna Ingorokva.
Also, Georgia may be giving the Cyrillic font, a favorite fashion motif, a run for its money. The label Bessarion produced T-shirts with Georgian phrases, Matériel by Aleksandre Akhalkatsishvili made singular metal statement earrings in the ancient script, and underground label LTFR released a jumpsuit emblazoned with the Georgian word for cosmonaut.
While Georgian phrases may slowly be gaining popularity, don’t dismiss Cyrillic just yet. Designers like Gosha Rubchinskiy and Yulia Yefimtchuk have both made Cyrillic a signature in their labels, while Western designers have been cashing in on the font, too: Heron Preston’s “Style,” or rather “Стиль,” turtlenecks were everywhere this past year—and even worn in Lilliputian form by North West. Also, mass-market stores like Urban Outfitters seemed to have caught onto the popularity surrounding the text: They recently released a T-shirt printed with the Russian phrase “Equal Rights.” Don’t be surprised to see the font make its way from the wardrobe of Gosha fanatics to the closets of Midwestern mall rat teens.
The overall obsession with Slavophile culture has shed light on emerging designers hailing from the Eastern European region. MISBHV is a name to note: The Polish label scored a coveted spot at Milk Studios for their Spring 2017 show, which focused around teenage obsessions of clubbing and motorcycles, complete with an early-’90s flair.
Before, the music scene in post-Soviet countries had more of a glamorous, commercial vibe. But now, a darker ’90s feel has infiltrated the local music scene. Ukrainian underground singer Luna, known for her kitschy ’90s looks and grainy music videos, had a meteoric rise this year. On a more niche fashion-focused note, Russian rapper Face released a musical ode to Gosha Rubchinskiy titled, well, “Gosha Rubchinskiy,” and received more than 1.5 million YouTube hits so far. The retro resurgence isn’t limited to indie artists, either. Russian singers like Tatarka have caught Slavic ’90s fever: In her music video “Altyn,” she and her dancers performed entirely in Gosha Rubchinskiy and Vetements clothing.
In 2016, rappers like A$AP Rocky wore Gosha Rubchinskiy onstage, while Rihanna made a case for hard-to-pull-off Vetements pieces. Most recently, Kim Kardashian West wore the Vetements Communist-themed hoodie—a collaboration with store SV Moscow—on an outing. Whether or not she knows the historical meaning behind the sickle-and-hammer-stamped hoodie, the piece makes a glaring statement. Expect more boldfaced names to follow suit.
Gopnik, a Russian term used to describe hooligans who loiter in the suburbs, became a coveted look on the runways of Vetements and Gosha Rubchinskiy—and is set to spread elsewhere. Some agencies, such as Moscow’s Lumpen and Kiev-based Cat-b, are even dedicated to featuring models who fit the description.