Former Soviet countries such as Georgia, Russia and Ukraine have recently been dominating the fashion scene with local brands. One of them is Ksenia Schnaider preferred by many celebrities from Bella to Gigi Hadid, Lady Gaga to Ellie Goulding.
Founded in Kiev in 2011, the brand is especially renowned for its demi-denims. We asked our questions to Ksenia Schnaider, the co-founder and “design brain” of the brand with popular designs.
What was your motivation behind launching your own fashion brand? What inspired you?
Ksenia Schnaider: It is hard to say what the motivation was when I started. I think I just felt that I had to do it. I started a long time ago. I was developing the brand’s style, business model, and identity step by step. And I really enjoyed the process. I love making clothes more than clothes themselves. My friends know that I hate trying something on while shopping, but I always do fittings on myself while working on the collection and I never get tired of it. I know how to achieve the best fit of jeans, and how to make elegant dress comfortable. I know a lot of insights thanks to my everyday fittings routine. I find my inspiration at my studio. Of course, I visit museums, travel a lot, meet cool people, and all these things inspire me. However, only at my studio I can create and work.
Can you describe your working process as a duo? Do you discuss every step with each other? Or do you have specific roles?
Ksenia Schnaider: When we launched Ksenia Schnaider brand, Anton worked for his design studio SILA. He did a lot of brand design and graphic design. Then, he started to work as a creative director at Yandex. However, he always supported me. He was my design consultant, my right hand in strategic decisions; however, I did all the daily work by myself. And, to be honest, designing itself took only 10% of my time. I was busy with building a strong team, doing accounting, PR, shootings – everything by myself. Then, I realized I wanted to dedicate most of my time to the creative part of the process. Our team was growing, and eventually I persuaded Anton to quit his job and work for Ksenia Schnaider, officially now. He launched our online store, did rebranding, and now he’s rethinking the philosophy of the brand.
My challenge is to make clothes that look cool and fashionable so people would want to buy and wear it.
Can you tell us the story behind demi-denims, which became your signature look?
Ksenia Schnaider: I spent some time looking at my friends, who were wearing different vintage banana-pants from the flea markets, and an idea started brewing in my head. I went to the flea market, bought a bunch of jeans, and deconstructed them. I experimented and tried numerous options, such as mixing jeans, Bermuda and Banana pants and even a skirt. Demi-Denims appeared for the first time in our FW16 collection and instantly became our staple piece. We buy vintage jeans all over Kiev and outside of it, wash them thoroughly, deconstruct them and turn into Demi-Denims. We wash them again afterward. To make one pair of Demi-Denims we need three pairs of vintage jeans.
You are reusing some clothing pieces in your new products and are also fond of patchworks. What lies behind that choice? Is it about sustainability or aesthetics?
Ksenia Schnaider: Both. My challenge is to make clothes that look cool and fashionable so people would want to buy and wear them. At the same time, these clothes should be made of vintage ones, upcycled. And it should be done in the best way possible. So, people don’t even understand it is an upcycled item, they perceive it as a completely new item. I believe it is the right way to make people consume responsibly.
Ukrainian fashion, as well as Russian fashion, has been getting attention from all over the world. What are your thoughts on the current fashion scene in the country?
Ksenia Schnaider: A new generation of designers is selling clothes made in Ukraine all over the world. I think it is the best proof that local product is relevant. It is interesting to observe the development of my friends’ businesses such as Vita Kin, Pascal, Anna October, Sasha Kani, Bevza, and others.
New Jersey born director Jordan Blady made a video for Nowness called Grisha’s Guide to Kiev, which we like very much. The couple in the video is wearing your brand. How did this collaboration happen? What are your thoughts on the video?
Ksenia Schnaider: Jordan emailed me with a proposal to do a fashion video for the brand. I replied him I did not want a regular fashion video. I offered him to make a light comedy. He visited Kiev and we discussed the script for a long time. Anton came up with the idea for the movie. He was inspired by a Soviet movie called “Courier” and proposed to recreate that ironic vibe in our movie. Anton tightly worked with Jordan on this film. He did a casting, helped with the location searches, etc. I was responsible for the wardrobe. We did many fittings and chose the outfits from our SS18 and FW18 collections for Grisha and the girls,
The youth of Kiev dances all the time. It never gives up, and believes that impossible is possible.
How would you describe “the youth of Kiev”?
Ksenia Schnaider: The youth of Kiev dances all the time. It never gives up and believes that impossible is possible.
We’ve heard that you are working on denim fur… What else are we going to see?
Ksenia Schnaider: We are working with a Turkish factory ISKO and we use a lot of interesting denim fabrics for bananas jeans, demi-denims, and Denim Fur as well. Also, we will do denim corsets and bustier, elegant evening gowns made from denim. Follow our Instagram for updates, I always show our studio life in stories!