Il marchio ucraino Kseniaschnaider
di Laura Sestini
Circa 10 anni fa, abbiamo incontrato Ksenia Schnaider a un’edizione di Pitti Immagine Uomo a Firenze. Era allora una stilista emergente ma attirò la nostra curiosità per il suo stile semplice e incisivo. Nei suoi dépliant pubblicitari comparivano delle eteree fanciulle bionde dai tratti delicati che indossavano T-shirt scure con stampato corruption. Il contrasto era forte – come la realtà circostante alla quale siamo sottoposti costantemente – e costringeva alla riflessione.
Presente anche alla 99° edizione di Pitti Immagine Uomo 2021, rigorosamente online, in questi anni lo stile della designer ha trovato una dimensione totalmente diversa, lavorando molto sul denim riciclato.
Nel mondo consumistico e volatile come la moda delle passerelle intercontinentali, questa scelta ci pare altrettanto interessante quanto l’audacia di denunciare la corruzione – anche se non direttamente connessa alla politica.
Ci siamo messi in contatto con Kiev, dove risiede l’azienda, e abbiamo posto alcune domande a Ksenia e Anton – suo marito co-designer – sull’attuale settore della moda e sul loro percorso creativo.
How was KSENIASCHNAIDER brand born and who of the Ksenia / Anton couple is the creator of the fashion lines?
Ksenia Schnaider: «Back then, before 2010 when I met my future husband Anton, I was already working in fashion with my own Kyev-based streetwear brand. Meantime Anton had been working as a graphic designer. Right after we met, I continued to create clothing, only this time the ideas were both mine and Anton’s. When we received incredible feedback and mentioned a demand for our clothing, it inspired us to start Ksenia Schnaider (now KSENIASCHNAIDER) brand in 2011».
Anton Schnaider: «Before 2019 we were co-creators of every KSENIASCHNAIDER collection. With the presentation of the brand’s menswear in 2019, I became responsible for creation of menswear collections, while Ksenia fully concentrated on creation of womenswear collections».
In 2013 your brand was emerging, but already committed to civil and social issues through the T-shirts that denounced the Ukrainian political situation. In 2013 the street protests began – called Euromaidan – up to the war with Russia over the Crimea issue. Is your 2013 collection still valid conceptually?
Ksenia and Anton Schnaider: «When creating Ksenia Schnaider Corruption capsule, which we assume you are referring here to, we chose the word “corruption” as one of the most popular nowadays words, like “love” for instance. We try to think of our fashion brand as apolitical but at the same time we are part of the community – we live, we vote and we create here. And we are aware that corruption itself is everywhere, including fashion industry. Many people the world over felt alike and people can also relate to the fact that corruption exists everywhere. Therefore our Corruption statement pieces, like sweatshirts and T-shirts, became and actually still are the brand’s best-sellers».
From political fashion to sustainable fashion: how did the transition happen?
K. & A. S.: «We have never defined our brand as the one doing political fashion, nor we define ourselves now as a sustainable fashion brand».
A. S.: «It is hard for me to talk about our brand as something settled, like to describe it in 3 words, because our brand is like a living organism that is developing and changing from season to season as we are also changing. We are still an independent brand and no one dictates us how to act».
K. S.: «However, since 2016, upcycling and other sustainable practices have become one the most important pieces of our brand’s DNA and we will continue to experiment with second-hand clothing, textile waste, fabric leftovers and innovative materials».
Why did you choose jeans fabric as an element of sustainability? Because it was born as a poor fabric for workwear?
K. S.: «Our brand’s DNA involves denim because denim is such an important part of my everyday life! I almost always wear something denim – since school. I love jeans, I feel comfortable wearing them most of all: more comfortable than wearing dresses. So when we started working with denim, it was very natural for me».
In 2020, with the pandemic, all sectors of production have been revolutionized or completely stopped. How did you live that moment, which is not over yet?
K. S.: «Every day there was a new challenge to deal with, without government support; which, for example, designers in fashion capitals had. It was a very uncertain time so the number of fears were endless: that the collection wouldn’t be a success, that the crisis might hit too hard and we wouldn’t be able to handle it, that my team might want to leave. My personal difficulty was to be a tough business leader and a free artist at the same time. I have learned that the best way to deal with fear is to work through it».
What do you think of the fashion events transferred online? Don’t you think that a dress, as well as being appreciated in an aesthetic / creative sense, should also be ‘felt’ by touch or on the skin?
A. S.: «I think that it’s very interesting to see how fashion brands and designers are using different platforms and approaches to online presentations of their collections. For our SS ‘21 womenswear collection we collaborated with one the most popular Ukrainian startups and today one of the world’s most famous apps Reface and together created a digital presentation film, where the faces of only 3 models walking down the catwalk are quickly switching between 20 different AI generated features. Please see here the link to the film».
What vision do you have for the future of your collections? And for the fashion world in general?
K. & A. S.: «We see fashion world with no seasonal schedules and the pressure to participate in the marketing rally, fashion weeks, magazines, influencer campaigns. We believe designers should feel the freedom to create, when they are ready to and present it in a way that is most comfortable to them, online or offline».
Sabato, 6 marzo 2021 – n° 6/2021
In copertina: la stilista ucraina Ksenia Schnaider. Photo courtesy ©Kseniaschnaider (tutti i diritti riservati).