FASHION EXPERT Igor Gulyaev


– What do you associate with women’s fashion in Russia?

– Women’s fashion in Russia is primarily associated with beautiful Russian women. No matter how beautiful European women are, but to be able to present themselves, as Russian beauties do, to be as spectacular, beautiful, to be able to emphasize their nature, is not given to everyone.

Our women have always had a passion for fashion, even when the word “fashion” in Russia was still unknown. No crises and quarantines will change the love and desire of a Russian woman to dress beautifully. It seems to me that I will be supported by both Italian and French and American brands: I think that the way Russians dress, and since they love Russian fashion, they don’t like fashion in any country in the world.

Over the years, we have gone through the history of how people just bought branded clothes and put on all the best at once. They could have come to the market in the morning in a luxurious lynx fur coat, in a Dolce & Gabbana dress, in stones, etc., but that passed. We have had it.

Such a period certainly had to be, because “right away” nothing ever happens. Everything has

changed, and today, a modern Russian woman is a woman who understands everything. She clearly knows: where and in what to get out. How to dress so that your friends will look after you and envy you.


– Do you agree that Russia has some very “own” fashion?

– Yes, it is, and whatever one may say, there is no getting away from it. I don’t want to offend anyone, but many people have the idea that if you have 50 Birkin bags in your wardrobe, then you are already the most fashionable. Even the producers of Birkin understand that this is not true and that it doesn’t work that way. A fashionable person is not a stack of branded items in the closet; a fashionable person knows how to put a bucket on his head and look stylish. Fashion is a game, and if you know how to play, then you are always on top, and you will always look incredibly cool. Today the situation is changing, being in quarantine, everyone looked into

their dressing rooms.

Someone has them packed with T-shirts for 100 rubles; someone makes millions and their wardrobe is full of dresses for millions of rubles – it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that everyone today has a lot of clothes, no matter where you live. Today everyone has a crisis.

Today, you need to produce what people will buy, not just sit and make fancy clothes that have nowhere to walk; or to make beautiful “pictures” to just sit and admire, but what’s the point? Nobody will buy it.

Even if there is some kind of event, all the same, nothing large-scale is planned due to the current conditions, and everyone has several outfits for an evening out.

In this regard, it seems to me that now is the time for accessories. This is a long-term playing story. The dress lit up once, and that’s it, you won’t be walking anymore; and a bag, scarf, stoles, capes, and other important wardrobe details – all this can be rephrased and played with each new thing and other bows in a completely different way.

Again, this is my idea, I could be wrong. I am no longer speaking as a designer, but as a person who thinks rationally. I communicate a lot with people, with those who dress with me, and many people say that they would prefer to buy 5 or 10 things, instead of one, which, after leaving, will simply hang in the wardrobe; and I believe they are right. That’s life.

Quarantine prompted us to choose comfort and convenience. We have always looked at foreigners and did not understand why they are not so bright and just dress. And they were just always for convenience.


– Due to our climate, mentality, traditions, fashion is very different. Within the country, there is a wide variation and contrast with areas and regions where fashion comes with a delay. In your opinion, can this be balanced somehow?

– Today, of course, the Internet plays an important role. It doesn’t matter where you were born: on Tverskaya Street in Moscow, or somewhere in Chukotka, the main thing is that the Internet reaches and a person can see the show from anywhere in the world. There is more of a question of mentality, we have it special, and if people think that “it is necessary”, then it is difficult to achieve and convey to them: “that is not necessary for a long time.” Television and the media must work so that fashion is broadcast from everywhere and fosters taste. Today, many do not understand and ask why oversize is in fashion. I see comments that in this Moscow people have gone crazy and are buying clothes five sizes larger, they cannot buy something for their figure, and so on. They have no idea that volumetric forms are in fashion, and this should look like someone else’s shoulder. The people just don’t want to take it. As practice shows, two years pass, they get it, and Moscow is already laughing at it. Unfortunately, this is already purely our Russian mentality, which will most likely be rebuilt over the years, but so far like this.

It seems to me that this is a time of change at all. The new generation of fashion will be much more understandable, because they do not have this “scoop”, they perceive everything in a completely different way. Everyone wants to be similar to today’s time, not to yesterday’s. Fashion is already becoming mixed and bold. Provincial fashion comes to the streets of big cities, the fashion of big cities is introduced to the province. Fusion in everything: a mixture of styles, textures, mixtures of images.


– In your collections, in my opinion, the girl is very bright, and even bold. Tell me, is the Russian girl really like that, or do you want her to be like that?

– I’m just trying to make sure that it is not fixated only for the Russian buyer, because I understand perfectly well that everyone pays attention to us today. We sell clothes in Parisian showrooms, we send them to America and we exhibit them in Australia. On the one hand, I turn on my gull and I understand what will be sold, and on the other hand, I want to preserve the recognizability, so that my products are “Gulyaev’s”, and at the same time to give some novelty, so that another step in the movement of the brand will be noticed.

In general, I am for quiet fashion and for comfort. I know for sure that quarantine will affect my

production, as well as everywhere in the world. I will want some nuanced calm and silence, something invisible and at the same time interesting.


– Three differences between Russian fashionistas and Western?

– First of all, she is Russian. It is already a very big difference. European fashionistas will prefer only the basic main capsules. If the Parisian woman is a fashionista, as a rule, she will have the latest models Chanel and Dior. Something last, but cult, recognizable and understandable. Our fashionista will buy everything! She will show everything recognizable, illuminated and expensive, if we talk about the fashionista as such, she will have Versace, Armani, McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana, Tom Ford, she will mix it all up and show it all. We are gradually moving away from this, just a period like this, and it has to pass.

In the new generation the style is in fashion, it’s either there and someone’s inner instinct works, or, as it often happens, the story works: “it’s a brand, and it should be in my closet”, and whether it goes or not is a big question. Nobody steams about it, but it is very necessary and it will pass.


– Do you think that maybe our fashionistas should not look to the West, maybe we should turn to the Eastern countries, listen to their culture, because historically we have more in common with the East than with the West?

– Eastern fashion is very close to me. I really like the mix of Eastern culture with European and Russian. I am very fond of a mix of styles. I like to create discreet, noble, exquisite clothing in

a mixture of pre-revolutionary Russia and oriental fashion. I call it that: “the period of tsarist Russia, in a discreet, closed cut. A long sleeve, a dress under the throat – I like it very much, it is clear that it may be out of trend, but it is like a good black dress that can not look bad. If you dress femininely, then in this way, you will never look: neither vulgar nor impudent, nor cheap; and it’s not about the price category, you will always look winning and aristocratic.


– Should Russian designers take into account the peculiarities of the Russian mentality, or are they better to retrain and guide our fashionistas?

– You should always create and properly guide and train. It all started a very long time ago, we were the first who went and started to pay attention to the Russian production, these were such designers as: Slava Zaitsev, Valya Yudashkin, then me, Igor Chapurin, Sergey Sysoev, Alena Akhmadulina, we started when nobody believed in us and did not believe in Russian production. Even today many people do not believe, the older generation is just beginning to understand that Russian production today is becoming decent and that its quality meets international standards.


– There is a certain circle of designers in the regions, do you think they should unite

somehow to identify the needs of local consumers?

– Maybe I am wrong, but it seems to me that one should definitely listen to what is dictated and

requested by a city or a particular region. If you don’t include your mind and your gut, you just won’t sell anything. It’s a business, and if you don’t become a designer-businessman, you won’t be sold and you’ll stop quickly.


– Our girls are very fond of fur, do you think a Russian girl will ever be able to give up natural fur?

– Today’s period and crisis contribute to change. Artificial fur will be relevant for many more years, and it is not a matter of animal protection, but for many people it is acceptable for money. I say this as a man who has been working in the industry for 30 years and 18 of which I have dedicated to the fur industry. I have seen all these waves when fur is not bought for a long time, and then it suddenly becomes fashionable. In fact, it is not about fashion, just the welfare of the people was such that people could afford diamonds and fur and expensive machines. Young people are very mobile now and can instantly rebuild, but believe me, if young people had money

for a Rolls-Royce, they would buy a Rolls-Royce, not a scooter. Natural fur is a necessary product

for many places in our region, especially in places where it is very cold (minus 30-40 degrees). Yes, there are comfortable down jackets, eggs, but still need a natural sweater, natural wool, which will give you heat, etc..

As for animals, there will always be fierce opponents, defenders. Someone does not wear fur, someone does not eat meat, someone does not eat fish, someone does not even trample the grass, because it is also alive. I can tell you that disposing of fake fur brings much more harm.


– What is your attitude towards unisex?

– Previously, I was in a fierce protest. Today, my views are somewhat different, probably, because

the fashion of the streets has entered the trends. Women need sports pants with sneakers, because it is primarily convenient. That’s why I treat unisex normally, sweatshirts, hoodies should be unisex, it’s like a black dress that all women should wear, because we live in such a time.


– Don’t you think that girls who choose this men’s clothing, lose their femininity?

– Of course, they do. If a woman has inner education and the ability to carry herself through life, then she will be a lady in a robe, and in a men’s jacket, and a man’s coat, and in a pantsuit. I like it incredibly on a woman – a white man’s shirt. For me, it is one of the main trends that should always be in the closet, because it will be relevant almost always. Fashion is a game, fashion is an art. You should know how to play!


– There are firms whose manufacturers have been making bags for famous fashion houses, and because of the crisis, quarantine and other circumstances, fashion houses have left these factories. But these firms have quality left, and they themselves want to do something. The question is: do they have any prospects?

– Well, it is clear that they will have to spend some time for the correct presentation of their brand, as a certain image is necessary. It is necessary for people to believe, you know? If some factory in the Moscow region sewed a coat for Chanel, and then started doing something of its own, also very high quality, but who would believe in this quality? I think it’s a matter of time, a lot of effort and finance to build a brand.


– Are there any prospects in our market for campaigns that sew quality, but without a logo?

– Our country is very fond of all that is famous and illuminated. Clothing with a name and brand will still be more in demand, because our country consumes fakes, we have a lot of fakes: Louis Vuitton, Chanel, GUCCI. Look at what is being done today in all kinds of markets and bazaars, from the TSUM package to what I am wearing, for example. Such brands should invite local designers, it would be right in my opinion, to produce some serious lines that can be distributed throughout the country. Although, on the other hand, they have moved away from the brand. It is very difficult not to answer on the move.


– Maybe they should find some big representative, a seller like a zoom?

– If they find a company called GUM, TSUM, they will still work under the brand, which is exactly what they wanted to leave. There is a question about transportation, if it’s hard for these companies to make deliveries to the country today, when we don’t have transportation companies working, what business options can we talk about? It seems to me that the companies that were shutting down our Soviet factories will earn more quickly.

Companies that will take orders from Russian brands, designers and produce for them. Today I

also listen to and look for manufacturers, who could make according to my sketches the quality products they want to see in my showrooms.


– Can such companies compete with luxury?

– For some reason it seems to me that the history of great fashion houses will not go anywhere. In all big companies there are not stupid people, they will always look for options and moves, how to move and survive in today’s day. If some company refuses to produce their historical things, which have been created by certain technologies for years, they will not remove this production and will not change the policy cardinally, they will just find another company,

that’s all.

Progressing positions, which have a history of 50 years or 100 years, simply can not disappear. I think that the Kelly bag, and the Birkin bag, will still be with our children, great-grandchildren and great- grandchildren.

– Thank you