In the same year of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Iron Curtain, Russian designer Gosha Rubchinskiy and Vetements (actually headed by Georgian designer Demna Gvasalia), two of the most impactful brands in recent fashion history, and both from the former Soviet Union, unexpectedly reshuffled their successful plans to start new and challenging ventures that hopefully will reshape the quite static fashion panorama.
While Gvasalia is still on a hiatus, Rubchinskiy, on the contrary, launched in March 2019 a new project called GR-Uniforma, which merges fashion, music, events, and youth culture.
“Earlier this year, we launched our first collection together with a music record,” explained the Russian designer in an exclusive interview with Nowfashion. “The second chapter was with Diesel in Berlin, and then we decided to continue with this format. Now there is a band that will do a mini-world tour in different cities, and we decided to start with Milan.”
The occasion was the opening of the Sicilian-born store Modes, which is established in Milan as well. The company, born in Trapani in 1971, is now an omni-channel world player with more than 300 brands sold both on- and offline and 10 retail spaces in Italy and Switzerland. “As they had just opened up shop in Milan, and we wanted to make something special, not just a pop-up space but a proper concert (the first) that will start a series of music events from Milan to Paris, Moscow and other destinations to be defined. Even the collection itself has an 80s, Italian-Milanese inspiration. As I always wanted to do something in this city, this was the perfect timing – something that is not just a fashion event, but special and unexpected.”
Rubchinskiy clarified that his new language is no longer just related to the fashion show: “Speaking for GR-Uniforma, as of now we don’t need it. Of course, for some fashion houses, this scheme is still important. If I would have been a big brand, I think I would still do it in a traditional way, but it’s no longer a ‘one size fits all’ formula.”
The world is constantly and quickly changing, so the old models are lurching, and most of the companies are confused about which will be the next step towards maintaining the highest performance. Being too big risks a backlash as the fast-evolving society revolves with an accelerated pace that, often, the fashion behemoths can barely follow.
So when I asked Gosha why he stopped a very successful project synonymous with his rooted knowledge of the youth culture, he replied that “at a certain point I missed the small community I had when I started, so I wanted to go back to my heart, and I wanted to create something for people that really wanted it. I escaped from that brand because it grew so much and got a lot of attention and it no longer reflected the purpose of the original idea. I wanted something new, special, and underground.”
The foundational part of the youth culture he has always been in conversation with is something that is still alive, and he wants to investigate and keep feeding it. “Today's youngsters are a free-flow of thoughts. I see some people learning from it and growing, but sadly at the same time others look empty,” the designer explained. “For example, adolescents are obsessed with fashion and how they look on social media, which feeds back to the hype they get. I don’t think that spending energy and creativity on those tools is important. I always push to create something else: to try making music if you have never done it. This is what happened when I heard a model at a show saying he wanted to have a band. I said ‘let's do it’ and step by step things took shape. We even recorded an album, and now they will do the gig in Milano.
I feel that kids should build on their goals, as it's way more interesting than buying a new GR-Uniforma T-shirt or taking a picture and posting it on Instagram. It’s kind of a secret community; people meet and make something exclusive. I advise all the kids to challenge themselves every day, making something new every time without any fear of mistakes.
Just be true to yourself and follow your heart. Make things that are 100% interesting and that make you learn something new every time. Think outside the box and try to avoid doing the same things over and over again, instead doing something you've never tried before. Record music. Make a concert.”
Rubchinskiy is another voice that believes the bubble of the social media illusion is not properly bursting, but is rather normalizing. Even the so-called Gen Z is taking some distance from the obsession of the digital image and fame, taking back the real life emotions. “I see that younger generations are now searching for more attractive things that they can’t find on Instagram and other social media. In terms of shopping, they want more exclusive products because they can find them only in Milan or in Moscow, for example. Not because they are expensive or with a certain logo.” Again exclusivity, something that makes people feel special not for the social media likes, but just for what they really like.