I was initially exposed to Gosha Rubchinskiy’s eponymous label through A$AP Rocky, who sported the brand’s flag print hooded sweatshirt and striped sweatpants during his exhilarating mash-up performance with rap-rock group 21 Pilots, at the 2015 VMAs.
At first glance, I thought the self-proclaimed PMF was attempting to bring back the nostalgia of Tommy Hilfiger clothing, but in actuality the graphic on the hoodie’s chest was a flip of the American apparel company’s iconic logo, which featured a conjoined Russian and Chinese flag with Cyrillic script on its borders. Intrigued by the Hilfiger-inspired top, I dove into the mysterious world of Gosha and was instantly captivated by his brand’s deep Russian roots.
Rubchinskiy, an equally talented Photographer and Filmmaker, was born and raised in Moscow. As a child growing up during the ending stages of the USSR, he had big dreams of becoming a creative in the music and fashion realm. “After school, all my classmates went to Stroganov College to study classical art or graphic design, but I wasn’t interested in it. I was into this world of fashion and clubs, but there was no university for that,” says Gosha to contemporary culture magazine 032c. “ It took ages to decide what to do, and finally I enrolled in college to become a hairdresser and a makeup artist, because I thought it was at least somehow connected with fashion.”
After graduating from the Moscow College of Technology and Design, Gosha worked as a Stylist and Costume Designer for films and mingled with the Fashion elite in Russia. Underwhelmed by the lack of diversity and energy of his city’s fashion industry, Gosha took a liking to the vibrancy of the youth- Skateboarders, in particular. "About ten years ago, skateboarding emerged as one of the main subcultures for Russia's youth and I've looked to it ever since,” he admits to I-D Magazine. "I was drawn to this new energy. I started hanging with this group, spent all my time with them; we skated, we partied, took trips to other cities. It was a special time, one in which I took many photos and shot a number of videos. I needed to do something to capture the energy. I needed to share it.” Not only did Gosha document his newfound admiration, it compelled him to start a clothing brand, which represented the unique style of post-soviet youth culture.
During the summer of 2008, Gosha began making clothes that mixed Russian elements with the Western skate and punk aesthetics. Rubchinskiy’s first collection was completely DIY, consisting of inexpensive T-shirts, fruit of the loom sweatshirts and denim jackets. With the backing of his friend and former owner of the Solyanka nightclub in Moscow, Gosha was able to rent a sports stadium for his first local show. Although the spectacle was a success (600 people were in attendance), there was no concrete fashion infrastructure behind it.
In 2009, the Russian menswear designer received his first big break as he was selected by former Russian Vogue fashion editor Anna Dyulgerova, to be a part of her alternate fashion week show called Cycles and Seasons. The presentation, held at a sports hall converted from a church, exposed Rubchinskiy to international media publications. In 2010, Gosha was invited to London Fashion Week, where he displayed a 12-piece collection with his very own funds. Flustered by the lack of a team and money, Rubchinskiy decided to give the Fashion world a break. In an interview with Business of Fashion, he states: “It’s very difficult to start a fashion label in Moscow. Good fabrics are expensive and customs rules are very strict. I started thinking that fashion for me was over.”
Luckily for Gosha, Dyulgerova introduced him to Adrian Joffe, president of Comme des Garçon and the mastermind behind Dover Street Market, who was delighted to sell his collection at DSM. Adrian always loved Russia and was moved by the pulsating post soviet movement, so Gosha was the perfect designer to display in his shop. Unfortunately, after the special capsule for DSM was made Rubchinskiy faced yet another financial disaster. All of Gosha’s items sold out but all of his profit went to production, logistics and of course customs. Remarkably, after Gosha broke the news that he wasn’t able to complete another collection for the shop, Adrian offered to produce and market Gosha’s clothes through CDG. Furthermore, Rubchinskiy was given the creative freedom to design whatever he pleased. The Gosha x Comme des Garçons partnership officially began in 2012.
With the aid of CDG, Gosha debuted his brand’s Spring/Summer 2015 collection during Paris Fashion Week 2014. Since then, Rubchinskiy has truly transformed into a cult favorite! His label can now be found in more than 116 stores around the world. Not to mention, Gosha has collaborated with a plethora of top tier brands such as Supreme, Reebok and Vans. On November 2016, Rubchinskiy unleashed his very first fragrance inspired by the Skate culture titled, “The Perfect Summer Weekend.”
The multi-talented designer will be presenting his Fall/Winter 2017 Collection for the first time in two and a half years in Russia-his home country. The outing will take place in Kaliningrad, which sits between Poland and Lithuania along the Baltic Coast. No other information has been revealed about the much-anticipated showcase, but we do know that it will all go down in January.