From Russia With Tech: A Moscow approach to Techwear
Techwear these days seems more popular than ever. Under the unstoppable will, expertise, and popularity of Errolson Hugh, this subcultural, almost religious scene has become a hype worldwide and found lovers in every city, facebook group, and social media feed. From ACRONYM, to STONE ISLAND SHADOW PROJECTS, and ARCTERYX VEILANCE, the big players from Germany, to Italy, and Canada are widely known and loved. Still, there are new brands and institutions across the globe that are trying to share their love and knowledge with their very own communities and add their own part to the story.
One of these new players is the TECHUNTER CREW, a design studio from Moscow which is publishing its own techwear magazine and, at the same time, is designing their very own label - NAMELESS.
Since I have a big network of family and friends throughout Russia, I am more than happy to present you their Russian view and approach to techwear. Meet Vladimir, Gleb, and Alexander - three guys who are trying to put Russia on the tech map of this world:
Hey TECHUNTER, your brand is still young but your knowledge about the scene and your art seems advanced. When did you guys first get in contact with tech wear and when did you decide to start a brand on your own?
Hi! Yes, we are still young, but for such a modest age we have achieved great success in the work with tech materials. Each of us came to techwear by his own way. For example, Gleb bought his first SI SP with 2L Gore-Tex and, once under heavy rain in Moscow, was surprised of being dry, while remaining fresh, unlike those usual rubber raincoats. Vladimir, interested in graphic design and fashion scene, always wanted to start a serious and big project. So it happened, that Gleb had the idea to work on techwear designs together. Alexander always had a passion for everything new, unknown and uncovered, so the first thing that attracted him in this sphere was the unusual style presentation of each techwear product. We all easily felt for each products futuristic, avantgarde and post-apocalyptic motives and, of course, its functionality and adaptation to environment.
How is the connection between the Nameless brand and the Techunter magazine. Did both come up as a project all together or was your very own brand a new idea?
The communication is direct and inseparable. Originally, we are TECHUNTER - it is a blog in Russian social media about techwear and design. Also it is a name of our printed issue, where we write articles and publish our opinions and interviews. And most important we are a design studio. We specialized in designing interesting graphic content and clothing design. So, behind the idea of telling about techwear was hidden the strategic part - learning tech for making tech. Actually, thus NAMELESS was born
How is the tech wear scene in Russia, especially in Moscow? Where are its roots?
Moscow tech-scene is very diverse. It's roots are, of course, from connoisseurs of technologically advanced line of SI and Berlin-based innovators; different people from different subcultures such as graffiti, football, roofing, parkour, fashion. But it still remained and remains to some extent a very small stage. We have interesting stores, like Belief, who at the moment the only one in Russia releasing the NikeLab ACG line. In my opinion, the cult of tech clothing is still emerging in Russia and our buyers are not aware of all the benefits of this kind of products. And, because of this lack of information, people do not pay attention further the price tag.
In Europe there are a lot of tech wear fans, but to be honest most of us live in terrains and climate conditions where tech wear is more a luxury tool than a needed gadget to get through the day. I’m pretty sure tech wear is way more needed in Russia than in most parts of the world, right?
Yes, definitely, our climatic zone is profuse and terrible. Saint Petersburg - it’s minus temperature with humidity and strong winds in Northern parts of the city, close to the water. Moscow - is generally a hourly change of temperature; at morning it can be -12, warmer to the evening and little snow, then raining at night and next morning the zero degrees. I am silent about autumn and spring rains. And what are we can say about the Ural and all that on: now it is a frost a minus of 40 - 50 degrees! No doubt, we need the jacket, that does not sweat in subway, do not get wet and does not freeze on the street and won't feel discomfort from her size.
What are the first needs and basics when you think about tech wear?
For us is very critical - if we make tech clothing, we take only best and high of our budget and possibilities. So, we don’t get a Gore-Tex licence due to the fact, that at the moment we don’t have our business plan yet. And we asked to our Anglo-French membrane manufacturer and buy their top article: bi-component PTFE+Hydro 3L membrane. If you check the acrnm.com, their J1A-GT jacket consist of 3L GORE-TEX® PRO PA 70%, ePTFE 30%. Our jacket RAY_VN_v2.0 consist of 3L membrane (bi-component) PA 65% PTFE/PU 35% + microRIP_STOP. We are proud that aspire to high performance parameters- we don’t make semi-products - we seal all the seams, as required by the Gore-Tex control system. The funny thing is that our technologist that worked for a long time on the market of ski suits, wondered why we need to glue ALL the seams, even where no water can ever reach it... What I always try to answer - that we want to be better than everyone. In my opinion, you can glue critical seams - the shoulders, neck and back, and this is then close to the world standards. But the weather conditions here are tougher international standards. Plus, it’s better to let our buyer be protected 100% than letting only one small defect result in his discomfort.
Talking about big names and influences, what role does Errolson Hugh and ACRONYM play in the Russian scene and how is the availability of its brand in your cities?
ACRNM in Russia is widely known in certain circles. Brandshop has a selection of collaboration NEMEN x ACRONYM and officially sells Stone Island, including Shadow Projecst. Belief is the only store in Russia, which presents the main ACRNM line. It’s a very high price for Russia, but, again, I repeat, ignorance in the field of tech among buyers generates the misunderstanding of prices. But then again, the guys from Belief are sold-out most of the time! I hope that everything is ahead and one day and we'll send you our photos of the presentation of the new Hugh collection at some of the capital's boutiques.
For us, the impact of ACRONYM is the contemplation of the techwear archetype. They were the first who presented the design with its aesthetics. And now it's our lighthouse, which for us light in the darkness of modern everyday things, but he warns us that to approach the style of ACRONYM is not necessary - we need to keep moving towards our own goal, to our own aesthetics and to establish our lighthouse to help other designers.
Are there other idols you admire?
Gleb: “Do not make yourself an idol”, says the second precept. Honestly, I don't get inspired by anyone lately. That doesn't mean I don't respect anyone, on the contrary. Respect and worship are two different things. I remain faithful to the idea of analysis - I see everyone from designers of simple things to the monsters of the fashion industry, I don't remember names, I find what I like, what makes you think the question “what if?” and then the brain starts to spin, deploy, detail, shape, reshape etc. So I do not create idols, I look at the lighthouses of archetypes, analyze their underwater rocks and sail on.
What role does social media play for you to reach people you might never got in touch before?
Social networking plays a major role today. Now is the easiest way to be in contact with a person you did not see never in your life. In Russia, at last time this is a negative connotation due to the abundance of information and the inability of people to filter and weed out the truth or need for it. Because of this, people don't want to go into detail in a particular area, as there are a lot of them, and the brain simply does not have time to switch between them or go directly on. Therefore, our main goal today is to give clear and factual information, the most truthful according to our sources and try to explain to our readers the actual truth.
How do you feel about the recognition a guy like Gosha Rubchinskiy got lately and what does this mean for other Russian brands?
Vladimir: In Russia, there are many people who do not see so much creativity around Rubchinskiy or even something meaningful in it. It is not for us, but for you (for Western countries). He's like vodka — ordinary for Russians and some marvel for foreign audience.
Gleb: I did not recognize him for a long time. But, at one point my friend, a photographer, opened my eyes - Gosha did Russian culture more fashionable. Tricolor, cyrillic and post-Soviet aesthetics - now it is worn by people all over the world, more than in Moscow. This forced everyone to pay attention to what's going on in Russia. To be honest, I am convinced that you would be pleasantly surprised a lot. For some, our country is still something post-totalitarian, cold and wild. Just due to the fact that our media culture is not developed like the western and not broadcasting to your screens. For me, it is weird to see Japanese advertising - but it does not mean the savagery of Japanese creatives - it is their culture, which I saw for the first time. But now I terribly want to go to Tokyo.
Alexander: From the very beginning I considered a breakthrough the activity of Gosha in this area. Although personally I don’t like his product, but there is an understanding that now is broken some kind of wall between us and the rest of the world. It is absolutely normal that the Russian/Soviet aesthetic now in vogue and represents our country. Although, everything is already wrong, as many people can imagine, looking at the Rybchinskiy works, however, caused enormous interest and it can not but rejoice. The dialogue is open. Now it is our turn. Another thing, that the mission of NAMELESS and TECHUNTER is to break all the current stereotypes and to show our own style, leaving a mark on the ground of modern clothing cult.
What are your goals with the still young brand?
In 2017 we are planning major changes. This applies to everything from design to the flow - clearly defined line, emphasizing our name among other brands of clothing. I would even say we deleted from the general stream of stereotypical views of our field. Our main goal is to be us and go your own way, without flirting with the same base rules. We do not create seasonal items, trying to please everyone. We are going to do, and release the product when we assume that the design is complete for those who are waiting for our next steps. We are not a mass market. We won't work with those who don't hear our ideas - we are not interested to hear the phrase “to do as they have”. It will never give us a movement, because we'll always be looking around at others and not see the road beneath your feet. So I hope when we will have new material, we can again sit down and discuss all this in the letter. Or, perhaps personally, where I (Gleb) would be very happy.
You know I love food, right? So what is a typical TECHUNTER office lunch? What do you guys eat?
Gleb: In general, I’m cook good, but, due to the fact that I am constantly between notebook-subway-workshop-constructors-tailoring shop-warehouse-logistic company, I am addicted to the charms of fast food – I like much KFC and require the sponsorship from them and also from E-One energy drinks [Laughs].
Vladimir: I eat very rarely, but in general it's the usual eggs with sausage.
Alexander: Recently concerned about the nutrition of my food ration and now I’m set to more-healthy food, depending on the situation.
You've been to Berlin for the BRIGHT TRADE SHOW, so how did you like it and what did you find out and learn about this city?
Yes, theBright Trade Show! Nameless were the first and only exhibitors from Russia in this section, curated by Outdoor Aesthetics. We presented all our work for the year of our existence and showed our new concepts. That was awesome! For us it is a great experience in all senses. We met a huge number of people, brands and stores. We had a good practice in spoken English. But the main thing is that on arrival we were full of enthusiasm to move forward more and more active! Berlin was fairly quiet and tidy city, in comparison with the rhythm of Moscow. But adaptation takes a small amount of time.
Where can we buy your stuff?
The main flow of customers comes through our website (http://nameless-tex.com) and via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). At the moment we start on cooperation with one of the Moscow central department store “Tsvetnoy” where you can find famous designers and brands from all over the world. We are attracted of this opportunity as it will allow to introduce ourselves more actively to the residents of the Russian capital. Surprisingly, most of our buyers do not live in Russia, mainly in Asia and the United States - the last of the anoraks, for example, went to Boston and Seattle, as well as Hong Kong and Tokyo. "Also, the latest product of the team is the D_NGO raincoat which one you can see at the article photos and consider in detail here [http://project76179.tilda.ws/]. Preorder has limited quantities and special price
Since we are all way more connected and even became friends through the digital age, how do you guys feel as a young generation of Russians seeing all these political talks and alleged tension between the USA and Russia?
We try to act outside the politics. And also not support the informational wars that mass media creates from the both sides. Because the history knows one very bad genius of propaganda, who said: “Let me control the media and I will turn any nation into a herd of pigs” So we appeal not to read and not to watch these paid media. Just communicate to other people from other cities, counties, find out their opinions about how they live, what they read and watch, how they spend their free time and you will be surprised how similar we are and how little things separates us in the desire to live a normal life. Seek to the information from first hands, not distorted and deformed. Explore the world, not destroy it.