Bespoke luxury shoemaking is a domain of a very few; it is and always has been a fairy-tale that only a handful of artisans around the world have ever been capable of making come true. Caroline Groves, a London-based bespoke shoemaker with more than 25 years of experience, unmatched craft skills and a unique eye for beauty, is undeniably one of them. Here she shares her thoughts on the life as an artist and shoemaker and talks about Russian influences in her work.
Bespoke shoemaking is now a rare professional path. How did you start making shoes?
I was fascinated by leather as a child, and I grew up in a family of craftspeople. My great-grandfather was a cabinet-maker and the right-hand man of C. R. Ashbee1; my grandmother was a silversmith and a very good needle woman. I spent weekends and holidays with her making things, but at some point leather became my passion. At first I just made bags and belts, but an opportunity came to work with a shoemaker and I realized that shoes for me are the greatest expression of what leather can do. The construction of the shoe is about leather and the construction technique; that became the fascination for me. I worked with that shoemaker for 15 years. As he was involved in orthopedic shoemaking, that was a good place to learn, because you learn that there is not one way to make a pair of shoes – you have to be versatile.
Eventually I wanted to move into something more artistic; I wanted to do something that gave me a chance to use more beautiful materials. Ten years ago I started my own business, and initially, the type of client that came to me were very often people who did have orthopedic problems, because they are the people that must have their shoes made. It took me a long time to acquire clients who simply wanted to wear beautiful things. In the last couple of years it has been particularly Russian women who seemed to love what I do.
What is the general process that you and your client go through to achieve the end result?
On a first occasion, I would meet the client. When she comes in, we will talk about style, discuss heel height, and I will measure her feet, because the first thing to have made is a last that a shoe is made on. It has to be a different last for a different heel height, so it is very important for me to know the heel height and the toe shape.
By the next appointment I would have made a “mock-up” shoe – a simple shell to represent the shape of the last that we made for her. The client would put it on and walk around; then we can mark any alterations to make. I will then have materials to show to her, and if she asks me for a particular colour or skin, I may need to source it from Italy or South America. At this second meeting we would finalize all the various details – decorations, trims, shape of the heel – then I will go on to make the shoes. On the third occasion, the client would look at the finished shoes. With the first pair, it is an investment in time for a client, but it is always easier after that. If it is difficult for them to see me in London, I would always be prepared to go to them.
Does the increasingly fast-paced culture of consumption, even on the luxury goods market, affect your creative process and communication with clients?
The nature of the bespoke service is that you are speaking to your client, bending to their will, but at the very best our client would come in, already attracted to something about my style of work. It is then a very comfortable relationship because they trust me to develop ideas for them. It is difficult when the woman comes in who has very clear ideas that I am not attracted to, and sometimes I do have to say that I do not really feel if I can achieve the result that she wants.
With high-end luxury shoes, women can have instant gratification by buying beautiful shoes in a department store, and my clients, I am sure, do that, but they also appreciate that my service is much slower and enjoy the anticipation of it. I think it gives them a different satisfaction seeing the result in the end.
Where do you draw your inspiration from and how do you reconnect your clients’ ideas with your own creative impulses?
My own inspiration comes from studying historical pieces, looking in the museums such as the V&A and Northampton Museum. In Moscow there is the largest private shoe collection in the world, shoe-icons.com, owned by Nazim Mustafaev, which I have visited. Forward-thinking designers must often be looking at new technology and materials, but as I am essentially a leather worker, it will always be about leather for me. I am very happy to work with shoes with a historical influence, because I like them to become contemporary looking, but my work is not about being a gimmick, it is about beautiful materials, construction techniques, craft. Quite often my shoes do have a vintage or historical look to them, but it seems to appeal to my clients. Perhaps, they think them whimsical or are buying into a fairy-tale idea.
18th century shoes
Is there any particular type of leather that you enjoy working with?
I love baby calf suede from Italy for its sumptuousness, movement and light-absorbing quality. The leather that I particularly love to use is called “alum” – it is a very ancient method using alum mineral. It is very rare, made very occasionally; the leather has a lot of character. It is only in bespoke shoemaking that we can command the price to spend that much on this type of leather. I would want to experiment more with it as it loves to be dyed.
My other passion is the English oak bark tanned leather, which we use for soling, also vegetable tanned leathers that develop with handling. Occasionally, we use exotic skins, and I also like the combination of similar textures, like in Gypsy Rose shoes. This shoe has a black suede heel and leather soling, but the shoe itself is black velvet with embroidery.
Do you manage all the production elements within your workshop?
Almost everything is done here in a very much craft-based way. Everything is an individual piece that has been made for an individual client using only hand techniques. In my studio I have my leather, my sewing machine, I make patterns here, while in another room we do all the “making” – soling, heeling and lasting. I have two shoemakers who work with me; one of them specializes in hand-sewing soles on, and the other does all the basic work for me. I make all the uppers myself. I also outsource embroidery and have three women who work for me on occasions. It is great to do these collaborations. At the moment we are making a pair of shoes with a historical needlepoint tapestry upper that is going to be embroidered on the top of high, glamorous type of shoe.
Do you feel concerned about the disappearance of many old, traditional craft-based workshops and factories, of which little exist today?
Small factories in the UK just cannot compete on cost with Vietnam and China, and that is why I always felt that it is important for me as a crafts person to find out the clientèle who can truly appreciate and afford my work. I cannot undermine my work by trying to do it more cheaply, using plastic, man-made materials. Now in this country we have to do very individual things at a very high quality, and there is a world-wide market for that. It is tiny, but if we can find it, there are people that will appreciate our work.
Is there an interest in the craft of shoemaking among younger generation today?
Being in London, I am constantly asked by aspiring shoemakers looking for internships. My experience often is that students want to come in for a short time to have an insight, but most often they want to become designers and are not so much interested in the hands-on craft. There are a lot of people who would love to learn the craft, but the nature of it is that you have to show respect for it, it takes time to learn, and the problem is that there is a limited number of people who would pay the cost of an entirely handmade shoe. It is incredibly difficult to be able to learn the craft, start own business and find a clientèle that can afford it.
Russian customers are increasingly interested in your work, but what attracts you in Russian culture that you cite as inspiration for you?
I have always been drawn to Russian art and costumes – folk costume, wherever in the world, but usually in the Northern Hemisphere, is very interesting to me. In Europe we have always thought of Russian fairy-tales, Russian troika. Of course, when I first heard of Ulyana Sergeenko’s work, I thought it so inspirational; her collections went straight to the heart of the foreigner’s idea of Russian fantasy. I was so drawn to that mystic, that slight otherness of the Russian world. As I see it, since the end of the Soviet era, there is a whole new way of touching into the Russian history and culture, a whole new re-awakening that is happening, and I am sure there is so much more to discover about crafts, costumes from different areas of the country. It is fascinating!
Ulyana Sergeenko shoes, source: pleasemagazine.comEvgenia Dorofeeva is a photographer, fashion writer and an avid traveller based in London. Her love of fashion comes from childhood spent in a grandmother’s atelier, while writing is a hobby that is bound to become a full-time occupation. Evgenia’s dream is to create a worthy home collection of evening dresses – story-tellers, performers and fairy godmothers in their own right. ]]>
When you need something cool to wear every day, Moscow-based label I Am never disappoints. Structured without being too stiff, feminine but not revealing, balanced between funky and classic – that’s what their new fall-winter collection feels like. Double bonus points for the trendy jewel tone palette, and those snake-textured knits are an absolute must-have!
Pictures courtesy of iam-store.ru]]>
The much-talked about beauty of Russian women gained its fashion momentum at the turn of the 21st century. The early 2000s saw the rise of top models like Natalia Vodianova, Natasha Poly, Olga Sherer and Sasha Pivovarova working in high fashion and commercial worlds, mixing runway shows with top-notch editorials and adverts. For all their success, they were, however, not the first Russian models to establish international careers of such calibre. If anything, Sorokko, Semanova and Pantushenkova got there first.
Tatiana Sorokko is deemed to be the first Russian supermodel, whose chance discovery by a Parisian agency in Moscow led to a successful career under the patronage of Yves Saint Laurent, Vivienne Westwood and such high-profile magazines like Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar. Sorokko transcended the notion of a stereotypical “clothes horse” by becoming a muse to Gianfranco Ferre in his days at Christian Dior and later to Ralph Rucci, with whom she collaborates even these days. Having retired from modelling in 2001, Tatiana worked at Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue as a correspondent, editor and stylist. Above all, she is known as a knowledgeable collector of vintage couture. Her collection has been exhibited in the US and abroad, creating an unceasing interest in Sorokko and her post-modelling work.
“USSR Supermodel” Olga Pantushenkova was discovered by a Moscow agency “Red Stars” at the age of 16 in 1991. After an unsuccessful attempt to start a career in Germany, she left for Paris, where she was signed by Elite. Their only condition – to cut her hair short – was met by a quick trip to the hairdresser’s; an iconic look of Pantushenkova was born. Contracts with Louis Vuitton and Giorgio Armani soon followed, while Cacharel made her the face of their perfume, Eden. Modelling for Valentino, Chanel and Galliano firmly established her as one of the most successful models, while her insider knowledge allowed her to work as a stylist. Despite leading a quiet life away from spotlight, Pantushenkova remains a pioneer in Russian modelling with an enviable body of work.
Natalia Semanova‘s gracefulness and chameleon beauty were noticed by famous Russian designer Slava Zaitsev at one of his casting calls that she attended at the age of 13. Modelling for Zaitsev and winning the “Elite Model Look” contest in 1994 paved the way for Natalia’s international success. Sitting in the front row at Gianfranco Ferre’s show at 14 – she was too young to model there – was one of the many remarkable moments in her career that saw her become the face of Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium and Giorgio Armani campaigns. Shooting Natalia for the Blumarine campaign, Helmut Newton praised her as one of his favourite models.
There are, of course, others – “Russian Parisian” Inna Zobova, Kristina Semenovskaya, Alexandra Egorova, to name but a few. Together and independently, these women carved incredible modelling careers that left a legacy to the new generations of Russian models and their international counterparts.Evgenia Dorofeeva is a photographer, fashion writer and an avid traveller based in London. Her love of fashion comes from childhood spent in a grandmother’s atelier, while writing is a hobby that is bound to become a full-time occupation. Evgenia’s dream is to create a worthy home collection of evening dresses – story-tellers, performers and fairy godmothers in their own right. ]]>
Danil Golovkin, a Moscow-based fashion photographer, is probably the most prominent talent working with Vogue Russia, Harper’s Bazaar, GQ and L’Officiel. With a background in graphic design, he worked first as a successful art director for an advertisement agency before embarking on an equally successful career in photography. Golovkin remains in high demand for his strong sense of lighting, portraiture skills and, above all, an ability to create striking images.
An equally impressive portfolio belongs to young, London-based photographer, Nikolay Biryukov, who has already worked with Wonderland, Elle and Tatler, amongst others. Like Golovkin, Biryukov graduated with a degree in Graphic Design and worked as an art director for a fashion publication before making the decision to pursue MA studies in Photography in London. He is known for his distinctive style which merges simplicity with sensuality, playing with graphic silhouettes and ideas of modern femininity.
Photographer Lev Efimov started his career by taking photographs of his friends, swiftly moving onto collaborations with local model agencies in his native city of Pskov and, finally, moving to Moscow in pursuit of its vast opportunities. Today Efimov frequently works on editorials for L’Officiel, Elle and Forbes and shows no sign of stopping in his artistic and commercial endeavors.
At the forefront of a new wave of female fashion photographers stands none other than Ukrainian, Cate Underwood, a model, photographer and a young mother, all at the tender age of twenty two. Underwood is already an accomplished photographer with clients such as Vogue Ukraine and Harper’s Bazaar. Rejecting the usual model-actress-stylist route, she started shooting first and only then considered modelling as an adjacent occupation. She found success equally behind, and in front of, the camera. Her minimalist photographic style favours simplicity, perfection of shape and a raw sense of being, making Underwood a go-to photographer for innovative editorials.
Model-turned-photographer Nicole Demeshik honed her skills working with fellow models in agencies in Moscow, steadily building a portfolio that secured attention of magazines like Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and Glamour. Her way of depicting sensuality and relaxed otherness firmly puts Demeshik on the list of up-and-coming photographers of today.
The list of talented Russian and Ukrainian photographers does not end here, for the people mentioned represent but a fraction of creative practitioners working today. If anything, they are a promise of groundbreaking and innovative fashion photography that is yet to come from Russia and the Ukraine.Evgenia Dorofeeva is a photographer, fashion writer and an avid traveller based in London. Her love of fashion comes from childhood spent in a grandmother’s atelier, while writing is a hobby that is bound to become a full-time occupation. Evgenia’s dream is to create a worthy home collection of evening dresses – story-tellers, performers and fairy godmothers in their own right. ]]>
The word “sarafan” might not be familiar to many, but most people easily recall how a traditional Russian costume might look. The sarafan is, in fact, built around the concept of a long, trapeze-shaped dress that, over the centuries, went under the names of “feryaz”, “klinnik” and, finally, “sarafan”. The word itself takes its origin from the Persian language, but the clothing came to Russia from Europe back in the 13th century and survived well until the 20th century, before various changes led to their decline.
Initially worn by men, the sarafan was modified through the centuries and gradually became a wardrobe staple for women of various social backgrounds across the country. Originally, it consisted of a single piece with thin shoulder straps, worn with a sleeveless vest, a “dushegreya”, thus creating a desirable shape of two triangles inter-crossing in the middle. The sarafan was executed in plain fabrics for work and daily wear, but could look remarkably festive when made with the more sumptuous materials and embroideries reserved for special celebrations. Interestingly, the width of the sarafan distinguished not only the wearer’s social status, but also her regional background and even which type of occasion that the sarafan was worn for.
The sarafan’s popularity transcended social strata until the beginning of the 18th century, when Peter the Great radically reformed the look of upper and middle classes. The court members were now obliged to wear European clothing, thereby renouncing the long-standing tradition of sarafans. Mostly worn by peasant girls and women as well as merchants’ wives, sarafans continued to exist in their independent form, evolving according to climate changes and the geographical expansions of the country. Peasant costumes were marked by their extensive use of large floral embroidery, the striking colours of which were only intensified by the contrast with the plain white shirts popular at the time. Blue linen sarafans were the most widely worn and were often decorated with natural motifs and rows of buttons. Red sarafans, equally popular with the countryside population, were designated for weddings only, although the bride was not obliged to wear a red sarafan on the day.
By the beginning of the 20th century, the peasant population of the country had dramatically decreased, and with it went the tradition of wearing sarafans. Widely regarded as an item of the past, they were now seen as traditional clothing for certain folk celebrations, and were immortalised in the nostalgic paintings meditating on times long gone. Simple, plain versions of the sarafan, however, evolved gradually into a summer dress, favoured by women in Russia for its practicality and lightness which made it perfect for a bright summer day. The legacy of traditional Russian sarafans now lives on only in this utterly modern form or in costumes, but their remarkable story left a lasting legacy in Russia’s social, cultural and, of course, sartorial history.
Evgenia Dorofeeva is a photographer, fashion writer and an avid traveller based in London. Her love of fashion comes from childhood spent in a grandmother’s atelier, while writing is a hobby that is bound to become a full-time occupation. Evgenia’s dream is to create a worthy home collection of evening dresses – story-tellers, performers and fairy godmothers in their own right. ]]>
If you kept that now-vintage Nirvana concert tee from back in the day, we’re talking circa the 1990’s, bring it out! Is it tattered and torn decades later? All the better!
Fashions come and go; yet somehow they manage to repeat themselves. This year we are going back to the ’90′s with a full-fledged grunge redemption. Casual, and somewhat haphazard, grunge is fairly easy to pull off. The look is pared down and raw – a down-to-earth form of punk. It does not put on a spectacle; rather it is blasé in an “I don’t care” kind of way.
Picture credit: Vogue Russia July 2013 editorial styled by Olga Dunina
1, 3 – Walk of Shame, 2 – Poustovit
1 – Artemklimchuk, 2 – LUBLU by Kira Plastinina, 3 – Yulia Nikolaeva
Lofty over-shirts piled on top of thin dresses with ankle moto boots are the ultimate wear-now grunge essentials. It’s all about pulling different shapes together and grounding them in grays, blacks, and plaids. Picture an organized mess. That’s a quality, fashion-minded grunge look. Don’t forget the power of texture. Leather toughens up any ensemble, and lace lightens any grunge combo that is too rough.
There’s a thin line between grunge and punk. So long as you’re not bordering on all-black and going goth, you’re getting it. A glam red lip would help maintain a girly vibe, and stray from appearing too masculine.
Skinny pants are essential. Think black. Faded and distressed elements showcase personality. Shirts and jackets in tartans, denims, or leathers, all rigid fabrics, pair well back to simple tanks and tees. Feeling spunky? Get graphic and wear a message on your shirt. Graphic tees seal the look, while giving you something to say. What’s your mantra?
Picture on the left is from here
The new grunge is a bit more cleaned up than that of the old. Oily hair is definitely out, so be sure to shampoo before you attempt this style! It’s all about being edgy, and owning it. Nothing tops off a grunge-cool look like a high-fashion black leather handbag. How will you rock it?Mollie Rifkin finds energy in fashion and art, and understood her calling at a young age. The fix she got from reading her mother’s copies of Vogue while growing up led her to fashion writing. Mollie is passionate about scouting trends before they hit the streets and putting them into words. She sees fashion as wearable art and reports on style and culture, all the while exploring how the two are interrelated. Mollie is based in New York City. ]]>
Bohemique strikes again with their stunning capsule collection of 15 sweatshirts. The enigmatic designer duo continues tapping into their beloved Hollywood glamour – sexy and sophisticated yet modern and comfortable. Just when we thought printed sweatshirts are the epitome of luxury, here come these hand-embroidered demi couture pieces! Would you wear an embellished sweatshirt to a big event?
The brand’s ambassador and muse, actress Anna Chipovskaya, stars in a mini-lookbook photographed by Tony Stark.
The collection is available in Podium Concept Store.
Every season needs a jacket. This asymmetric topper by Pirosmani in a sporty grey is the perfect transitional piece. Wear during travel, for the ultimate in stylish layering while jet setting. It pairs well back to a cropped pant, to keep the proportions of your outfit on par for Spring.
Life’s a picnic in this gingham suit by Sasha Kanevski. The ombre element in the shirt is right on trend this Spring. Cook out in style in a print that screams summer, and outdo the table linens while you’re at it. Keep the look in check by pairing it back to a solid, neutral brogue shoe. The skirted pant is not for the timid: fashion forward males only!
Skip out on this look when barbecuing! However, wear all summer long to (nonfood related) sporting events. This outfit by Leonid Alexeev would be perfect for a polo match. Preppy, clean, and classic, it epitomizes the tradition out of which summer sporting activities were born. Appear stylish on the sidelines, and beat the heat!
You must be hip to pull this one off. The avant-garde cropped sweater by Gosha Rubchinskiy is a great way to showcase those abs you’ve been working hard on, while keeping your arms insulated on a cool, summer night. Wear this look to an evening rooftop party. It gives a relaxed, yet well-kempt vibe. Let the compliments begin!
The striped, open-weave sweater by ARTEMKLIMCHUK is a summer staple with its nautical feel. This one was meant for the seas. The weight is not too heavy, and the coloring is a great springtime change from black. Wear this high-class look on a boat, or while yachting to be specific, and enjoy the breeze. When styled with a pleated trouser, the look is one of ultimate sophistication.Mollie Rifkin finds energy in fashion and art, and understood her calling at a young age. The fix she got from reading her mother’s copies of Vogue while growing up led her to fashion writing. Mollie is passionate about scouting trends before they hit the streets and putting them into words. She sees fashion as wearable art and reports on style and culture, all the while exploring how the two are interrelated. Mollie is based in New York City. ]]>
Founded by former stylists Julia and Alisa Ruban, RUBAN delivers a cast of whitehot, haute fashion. The sisters make a compelling case for white being chic all year round. Take a cue from the posh peplums and fabulous furs adorning these pieces: this look is a major do!
Washes of bright, candy colors liven up the ivory ensembles and set the soft tone of the collection. The maxi-length silhouettes are kimono-like and connote grace and poise – Eastern traditions to which women aspire. As the collection moves down the runway, it takes a literal leap, right out of Spring and into Fall. The benefit is that these looks are great for transitional dressing.
The whites, blues, and greens that open the collection are coupled with a rich color palette of orchid, camel, and brown, signaling deeply desired winter warmth. The colors themselves mimic the changing seasons, painting a picture first of a plush blue-green landscape, then of rich autumnal leaves that will fall, and finally of winter’s white blankets of snow. The designers have mixed together hard, structured lines with soft, sheer fabrications to tell their tale. These elements help the collection evolve and highlight a unique aesthetic that is truly modern.
With pieces clean enough to wear to work, and daring enough to take you to cocktail hour, you can’t go wrong. Which look speaks to you?
Mollie Rifkin finds energy in fashion and art, and understood her calling at a young age. The fix she got from reading her mother’s copies of Vogue while growing up led her to fashion writing. Mollie is passionate about scouting trends before they hit the streets and putting them into words. She sees fashion as wearable art and reports on style and culture, all the while exploring how the two are interrelated. Mollie is based in New York City. ]]>
Osome2some is a St. Petersburg-based clothing brand, founded by Anna Andrienko and Natalia Buzakova.
The story began in India where the aspiring designers headed in search of fabrics for their debut collection. Next stop was London, and the hard-working team of two hit the road to success. The designers opened a studio in Hackney Wick and received training from a pattern maker who worked at Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney. Their line was sold at Spitalfields Market, Portobello Road, Brick Lane and in selected concept stores.
In 2009 Anna and Natalia moved back to St. Petersburg to woo the refined yet sensible St. Petersburg crowd with their sophisticated outerwear designs. Evgenia Dorofeeva spoke with the awesome duo about building a successful fashion business in Russia.
Unlike many designers starting out today, neither of you studied fashion design at university, opting instead for a degree in business. What motivated you to delve into fashion rather than any other creative or non-creative field?
Fashion was a childhood dream for us both. All this craving for fashion came from the very first glossy magazine, being inspired by mom’s clothes, the list goes on. There was always a desire to change something in the already existing things; to add, remove and alter.
Our education in Economics was practically impossible to apply anywhere when we just started. Everything in fashion seemed like magic to us: travelling with our first collection to London, for example. The thought of using a markup formula didn’t even cross our minds! We were so engrossed in this new page of our life, and it was difficult to imagine osome2some as a fully-fledged business project. To be honest, what helps us most along the way is experience and intuition.
In the course of the brand’s existence, you had a chance to work in India and the UK, and now in Russia. Were their any particular challenges specific to every country and how did you overcome them?
Yes, particularly the experience of working at the London markets like Brick Lane and Spitalfields. For our first market, we set the table to separate us from our potential customers, with whom we talked hesitantly, almost blushing. To earn for a living in London, though, we had not only to learn to love what we do, but also to not be ashamed of it, openly talking about our ideas, inspirations and fabrics. As it turned out, this experience of communication with customers can inspire you and teach you a lot about simplicity and ease in life and work.
India was also an invaluable learning experience when it comes to our first wholesale orders of fabrics. Varanasi is still one of our favorite cities in the world. The silk that was used to dress the members of the French court back in the 17th century was produced here, in small family factories. There is so much history and magic in it. We hope that in future we will have more opportunities to visit the city and purchase outstanding local fabrics.
What do you think a young independent designer needs to do in order to succeed in Russia? How do you evaluate the current situation in the local fashion industry and how does it affect your brand?
The situation on the Russian market is more than favorable: there is more interest in the local designers, who are taken more seriously by public and professionals alike. Big shopping centres create corner-stores to accommodate Russian designers, while regional outlets show an ever increasing interest and subsequent ever expanding orders. For a brand, it is crucial to have a reasonable production budget, a good pattern maker, a size range, an opportunity to participate in international trade-shows and to show collections on an international schedule (a season ahead). It all prevents the brand from being provincial and local, limited in a way. This is what we strive for: building a brand based on those factors. What sets us apart is our unconditional love for what we do, our understanding of goals and customers, and a bit of luck, of course.
Osome2some is geared towards a certain segment of the market. How do you define your selling point? What are the challenges in competing with independent designers targeting a similar customer base?
Everything fell into place quite naturally, once we started to get recognised for our outerwear designs. Our coats became a fantastic base to preserve the vitality of other products. Presently, we work on 4-6 coat designs per season, always in line with our own understanding of sophisticated and utilitarian urban chic. It is quite difficult for us to compare our work to that of other Russian designers; we don’t see them as our competitors. The cut of every osome2some creation has a touch of lightness, a new vision of simple and wearable clothes. In a way, it is a combination of Scandinavian minimalism and French refinement, enhanced by production quality and a careful selection of fabrics. The advantage of our brand is its constant evolution, its ability to be flexible, yet true to its DNA.
For a small independent company, it is crucial to find and sustain ways of promotion and reaching the customers. How do you promote your brand and what method has proven to be the most effective? How do you build a dialogue with clients?
For us, it was the Internet that played an important role. We started with a small public group in VKontakte, and this is where most of our customers came from. These days many of them follow our updates on Facebook and Instagram; only then do they visit our online-shop and place their orders. Face-to-face contact and personal communication are undoubtedly important. The face of our store in St. Petersburg is our mother, who is always there to tell customers about the history of the brand, its concept, letting the people feel the energy of the brand. At the moment, we are planning to open a new store in Moscow and are looking for a person to fill the role of osome2some representative there. Direct sales long remain in people’s memories. I (editor’s note: Natalia), remember almost all shopping assistants from my favorite stores in Paris, London and Berlin, and always come back to them with a certain feeling of joy. The communication route of our brand can be described in three words: subtle, warm and friendly.
This year marks the launch of your new premium line AWESOME by osome2some on top of the already existing basic lines, osome2some and B.E.R.L.I.N. What was the motivation behind this expansion, and how do you see each line developing in the near future?
AWESOME by osome2some was long our dream of a premium line that would offer more complicated and refined cuts synonymous with sophisticated “neo-classics”. The introduction of this line is a new step in the brand’s life and a new opportunity to work with stores of a different calibre. We plan to ground our seasonal collections in this line and are presently working hard on our F/W 2013-2014 collection.
Osome2some is a casual favorite, in other words, a line where we want to introduce classical models of the brand, re-interpreted in various fabrics and enhanced by new silhouettes.
B.E.R.L.I.N. is a line that was inspired by the city of Berlin, and is an embodiment of posh punk. This line is sold exclusively in our stores. It allows us to keep the prices down, while using less expensive fabrics, essentially making it accessible to everyone.
AWESOME by osome2some
Juggling more than one line is not an easy fit for a young independent designer, especially in regards to production. Where do you produce your lines and how difficult it was to find/set up a production facility?
All lines are produced in our own production facility. Our attempts to produce the collections elsewhere negatively affected the quality of products, which goes against our brand’s core identity. Our production team currently included five members: four of them are highly-qualified tailors, joined by one constructor-technologist. We also work with acclaimed Grasser Design Bureau, which creates some of the samples for AWESOME by osome2some.
Finally, what is next in store for osome2some?
This summer we are opening our first Moscow store in Krasny Oktyabr as well as a corner-store in Tsvetnoy Central Market. We will also present our collection AWESOME by osome2some in Paris as part of the young project NBNC.fr. The most exciting part is our autumn/winter collection, of course!
Photo courtesy of osome2some
Interview by Evgenia Dorofeeva