by Ieva Zu

Without a question, a 32-year-old Gosha Rubchinskiy (гоша рубчинский) is the most popular Russian fashion designer internationally. As he says, he represents New Russia, a new generation of Russian artists that the world has fallen in love with.

With his most anticipated Spring-Summer 2017 show at Pitti Uomo on Wednesday, Rubchinskiy managed to create a Soviet atmosphere even in a historic Italian city like Florence, choosing dormant Tobacco factory surroundings as his catwalk. The Instagram soon after has been filled with #InstagramBoys wearing #GoshaRubchinskiy – models were once again selected in an open street casting, featuring the real street kids.

The hit of the season seems to be the Italian Fila (and other 90s sportswear ) branded Ts and sweatshirts with original logos and гоша рубчинский subheadings. Media rightfully compares them to the Georgian Vetements DHL T-Shirt from the last summer. Is that it? Is this what the world needs? A rebirth of the 90s basics that most of the Soviet era kids remember wearing because there was nothing much else to wear? It is definitely some sort of nostalgia to most of us, born in the 70s or 80s, growing up in the 90s, behind the Iron Curtain. I must admit, 90s Soviet fashion renaissance is also appealing to me, to some extent. And Gosha did an excellent job by bringing it back to life. Quoted by Dazed magazine, Rubchinskiy refers to the USSSR as something he misses (in terms of fashion, I hope), those days when people didn’t have so much choice or influence from the Western world and had to be very creative to stand-out from the crowd.

I am from the same generation as Gosha Rubchinkiy is, I grew up in the Soviet Lithuania; to be precise, Lithuania occupied by Russia. I believe, when it comes to nostalgia, all of us who have experienced Soviet Union first hand have mixed feelings in relation to it, especially the ones coming from outside of Russia. Thus, it is a very fine line between the 90s nostalgia and terror filled memories when our fathers were standing bare-handed in front of the Russian army’s military tanks in the revolution of 1991. The short-shorts or Fila T-Shirt doesn’t bring any bad memories, just sweet pictures from the teenage years (I still have a funny memory of my boyfriend’s childhood photo wearing an oversized Fila sweatshirt). However, some of the Rubchinskiy’s statement items and logos don’t have the positive associations. Saying that, the designer is playing a dangerous game. The communist symbol of Hammer and Sickle, a ‘must-have’ to most of the Gosha’s admirers from the West, is actually a symbol of occupation. To many older generation Eastern-Central Europeans, who have directly experienced Soviet Union, this symbol is an equivalent of Hitler’s swastika. What is so appealing to the International fashion crowd, is actually loaded with a controversial symbolism.

I am glad to see this is not coming back into the more recent designer’s collections. Playing a nostalgia card is fair enough, it is exotic and unknown to most of Rubchinkiy’s clients, and ignorance is bliss, of course. But I, personally, who remembers looking through the window at the age of seven, waiting for my dad to return home after standing for the freedom, take this nostalgia with a pinch of salt. There are so few things from the Soviet times to like, and one of them, fortunately, is fashion. To an extent.

All photos @Instagram from Gosha Rubchinskiy’s SS2017 collection.