I recently came back from a trip to Kiev and Minsk after giving two lectures about ‘Trend Forecasting’ and ‘Making a Fashion Collection’. For some years, I have been very interested in new fashion cities, as a fresh alternative to ‘The Big 4; London, Paris, Milan and New York’. I’ve been really surprised by all the fresh influence coming from Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Belarus and continue to think, it’s really interesting places for new fashion cities with so much possibility, and enjoy seeing new designers slowly carving their way to international fame.
Also this time I wasn’t disappointed; in Kiev I met with Daria Shapovalova and her whole team from Kiev Fashion Institute, and we visited upcoming designers as Omelya, Anna October, Anna K., Shushan and Lapti shoes. The next day a workshop and an interested audience, who listened carefully for 7 hours about trends. Not bad for a Saturday with sunshine outside!
With Daria Shapovalova in Kiev Passage.
Also in Minsk, creativity and fashion are starting to spread like circles in the water. The fashion scene is less developed, but visionary people like Dmitry Dosov, Project Manager of Fashion Collection, are starting to take initiatives and help the fashion industry with professional training and visibility. Considering it’s still a communist country, it will be very exciting to see what fashion looks like through the eyes of the native Belarus designers. At least, I’m very excited! Designers like Lena Tsokalenko are already selling abroad, and I happen to meet fashion blogger Maria Pogue and new designers Zibra, Manchak and Ta Ya. Perhaps these names aren’t familiar yet, but let’s give it a bit of time and see, what happens.
Press conference in Minsk with Belarus bloggers and Dmitry Dosov.
There’s of course the question, if the world of fashion needs more and new designers? Well, in theory no, as there are already really many, but that doesn’t mean that new designers aren’t interesting. The future is fuelled by new talent and the ones, who will make it, are the ones with real talent and grit. Anybody with a bit of style and pocket money can make a small brand, but making a long-lasting business is an all-together different story.
A challenge for the designers is surely retail, as shops are very cautious of taking in a new brand, and they often want to see a brand for a couple of years before deciding to invest. This means that doing a fashion brand is an investment of a couple of years, before there will be any money. Of course, not many young creative have this kind of possibility, and it’s something to really consider when dreaming about doing a brand. Online retail has surely changed a bit the landscape, but let’s be realistic and admit that it’s very hard for a consumer to buy a small and unknown brand online, without having felt the quality of the fabric or tried it on. This means that retail is still posing a bit of a challenge.
Websites like Not Just a Label is doing something great in promoting and selling new designers, and it’s a really interesting platform. Of course, there’s only so much that retail can do. At the end of the day, it has to come from the consumer. A bit like with organic food; if the consumer wants it, the producers will start fulfilling the demand. If the fashion consumer wants independent designers rather than Louis Vuitton and Topshop, that will allow for more small designers to survive. These changes and consumer trends come around based on macro trends, and indeed it’s popular with special and customized goods that not.
Cover is of Omelya designer Kostya Omelya.