Oh My Gosha

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There are few instances from the last decade that I can recall where a fashion collection has truly gone viral in reality.  By “viral” I mean actually spotting multiple instances of one fashion collection on the streets – and by “streets”, I don’t mean Tommy Ton’s street style images shot in the heightened environment of fashion weeks.  I mean sightings on yer’ average street, occurring in mathematically improbable numbers.  One such example that struck me this week was the perceivable popularity of Gosha Rubchinskiy’s A/W 15-6 “Sport” collection.  Or to use the Russian and Chinese characters, which are a central graphic focus of the collection – Спорт or 運動. 

Specifically, it’s the t-shirts and hoodies featuring a mash-up of the Russian and Chinese national flag, which then segues into a Tommy Hilfiger logo riff-off that have been selling like hotcakes.  Pieces bearing Rubchinskiy’s AW15 headline graphics on Oki-Ni, Goodhood and of course Dover Street Market (Rubchinskiy’s production is supported by Comme des Garçons) are all showing up as Sold Out.  At Machine-A in Soho, owner Stavros Karelis was also reporting an insane hunger for the collection, with the t-shirts being the first pieces to sell out.  When I popped in for a fringe trim at The Lounge, my hairdresser Mark was also expressing his love of all things Gosha, tipping me off on to sites where one could still get hold of key pieces (I learnt that The End, based in Newcastle upon Tyne of all places, has also bought into the collection).  And just in case you think Rubchinskiy’s appeal is contained within trendy areas of London, lo and behold, in my own hood of the humble Seven Sisters, Steve spotted a Gosha-clad lad.

An interest in Rubchinskiy’s work has been bubbling up for a few years now amongst an in-the-know menswear crowd.  His ability to articulate his post-Soviet upbringing and Muscovite youth subculture into his clothes has opened a wearable gateway into a society that is largely unknown to the West.  A post-Cold War Eastern Bloc fascination if you will.  In Rubchinsky’s 運動 Спорт graphics, throwing China into this superpower mix only strengthens the visual message.  These are two countries who have both used the arena of sports as a way of demonstrating their prowess on the world stage, which Rubchinskiy then juxtaposes with a play on the Tommy Hilfiger logo.  And so in one fell swoop sums up the present state of affairs where two countries with former communist ideologies now openly embrace capitalism.

Is that therefore the reason of appeal of these graphic t-shirts?  Is the socio-economic-political significance behind Rubchinskiy’s collections even relevant to feverish buyers?  One could also argue that the reasonable price points make these pieces a boon to buy.  The buying demographic also segues with other male-centric street wear hoarding waves (Supreme, BBH, Kanye x adidas – anything that causes block long queues).  Rubchinskiy’s work deserves deeper analysis, especially when combined with his preoccupation with underground Russian subculture, but the rise of people emblazoned with his Sino-Russo flag?  It comes down to that simple but inexplicable reasoning behind most trends: “It’s just cool, innit?” 

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Once Upon a Shoe

>> eBay crawling is a dangerous slippery slope.  eBay crawling at 3am in the morning when you’re awake with jet lag having just landed into New York leads you from looking at things that you actually wanted (search terms “Balenciaga runway”, “Junya Watanabe” and “John Galliano”) to looking at things you never knew you wanted… like these Disney Parks shoe ornaments.  No, Disney haven’t collaborated with a ton of shoe designers to create these bijoux tributes to both well known and obscure characters.  For a few years, their in-house team have been creating little 3 x 3.5 inch ornaments, applying glitter, jewels and princess/villain appropriate embellishments, so much so that you could well be tricked into thinking that were these a real adult shoe, you’d be tempted into spanking more than the $22 that these little trinkets cost (you can buy them exclusively at Disney Parks and resorts).

From an initial eBay search, I then found rabid Disney merch aficionado sites like Disney Fashionista or this crazily detailed Flickr profile, where sentences like “I started singing “Colors of the Wind” as soon as I saw this Pocahontas runway shoe” and “(This) shoe is one that has nuances the non-Disney lover may not notice” are par for course.  Those nuances may well be lost on the majority of non-Disney loving people but the actual aesthetic make-up of these mini shoe-jects are fascinating.  Over the top, garish and almost grotesque, they remind me of over decorated crazily coloured cupcakes that I wouldn’t ever actually want to put in my mouth.  Excepting perhaps the Cruella DeVille  pointy pump and the Mulan flower sandal, were these to be enlarged and made into a wearable reality,  the overwhelming kitschness would probably deter me from wearing them for real.  Then again, the same could be said for many of the OTT shoes that I’ve collected over the years (Giles AW 08 bolted heels?  Meadham Kirchhoff S/S 12 glitter layer cake platforms?) bought for far more than $22, that now languish on my shelves as nothing more than pretty objects.  Perhaps diverting my decorative shoe fixation to these little plastic charms wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all.*

*3am crazy cola-fuelled jet lagged brain speaking

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