Inspired by industrial and architecture design, RED SEPTEMBER offers you a fresh look at familiar things. The brand was founded by designer Olga Vasyukova. Olga works in several fields: design, illustration, production, and photo shoots. The designer has a diploma from the Fashion Design department at Polimoda and her first showcases in Florence. She works on the concept behind each collection by focusing on a mix of forgotten, old school aesthetics and a single theme in modern art.
Olga works with leather, denim, nylon, cotton and various other fabric combinations, including fabric from ready-made clothes. She is not afraid of taking bold steps in her work: she paints, burns, buries fabrics in the ground. In the collection there are trench coats and leather jackets resembling Tetra pack milk packs, which have become the brand’s trademark.
A TALK WITH OLGA VASYUKOVA, FOUNDER + DESIGNER OF RED SEPTEMBER
How does your brand position itself on the international market?
We are Russian brand which is not a statement with soviet logos and Lenin portrait, its my direct speech, the events I’ve seen with my own eyes and put in my own words. This is a way for the brand and me as a designer to establish an emotional connection and share values and ethical views with our community.
We are not a closed luxury brand, but an emerging genderfluid creative space.RED SEPTEMBER
And in response to our transparency, over time, people have begun to give us more attention and trust, share their comments, stories and reactions. This is how a dialogue is born. This is the way to our audience feel more confident wearing an emerging brand in which you can identify yourself.
How the brand was born and how many people are involved in the team now?
Making the incredibly long story of my life’s adventures short…First I went to Moscow State University of Railway Engineering, graduated and worked as an engineer in a scientific laboratory in Moscow. Then I started a new beginning, moved to Florence and entered Polimoda International Institute of Fashion Design & Marketing. After 4 years, I graduated from the Fashion Design Course under the tutorage of Patrick De Muynck. I did no internship, but almost immediately accepted a job offer from a Polish mass market giant company and moved to Gdansk. All this time I was updating my instagram account, where I told stories about my fashion studies and posted photos of my student projects and collections. A few months after I moved to Poland, my current business partner DM me on instagram and offered to work together. Soon I left the Polish company and returned to Moscow to start developing the brand.A year and a half later, the brand team consists of 10 people, including me and my business partner (he asked me to mention in the interview that he is cool…I confirm – he’s cool). The end.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for a young brand right now?
Find a balance between the competitive environment of the fashion market and preserving your identity, your own values and opinions. Understand what you want to say and make your voice heard is also challenging nowadays. The audience is increasingly overwhelmed with information flow from social media, so there is a very high risk that community that might share your values and ethical views will simply not find out about you.
How do you want to achieve the long-lasting concept for your brand?
Fashion is a reflection of all the major events taking place in people’s lives. The time has come when the entire industry is changing, market has welcomed the Millenials who breaks all the luxury codes. Being an emerging brand we are involved in creating new philosophy of fashion business, revendicate the fact to be humans before a man or a woman, we post lookbooks and campaigns with non binary models, show gender-fluid collections and share videos that represent our thoughts and principles in a best way. Im not focusing on achieving the long-lasting concept, being able to represent personalities and values of our community here and now.
How do you determine what is durable design?
Respect the environment by means of ethically and eco-friendly organization of each stage of production. Now the entire fashion industry is going through a transitional moment, when all the concepts, norms and principles that have been established for many years stop working and need to be rethought. The focus is changing from financial profit to caring about environment and our future in it. The industry is huge and it’s gonna be a long way for giant companies to adapt to the new realities. So now there is a chance for upcycling and recycling brands to bring new technologies of production eco-friendly materials. This may be the beginning of unexpected and productive collaborations between industries from different fields and the emergence of fundamentally new materials.To introduce the principles of slow fashion and conscious consumption is a challenge. Slow-produced and long-life garments will become a priority, which will entail correcting the seasonality of the collection’s release and pricing policy.
What happens to that part of a production that does not get sold?
At the end of each season, we organize a final sale with early access for our regular customers and stylists. Those items that remain after the sales, we transfer to the Charity Shops, which distribute the profit from sales to various Charity Foundations, as well as support the development of the upcycling and recycling industry in Russia.Also, starting from the second season of the brand, we opened our own small production, which allows us to quickly respond to the market changes and control production volumes to reduce the amount of waste as much as possible.
How far do you go in terms of sustainability?
As I said, we have opened our own small production facility, which allows us to control and reduce the amount of waste as much as possible. We pay attention to the production process, discuss with our partners their eco-friendly facilities and work with suppliers who share our values and views. It’s important for us to support Russian manufacturing companies that develop new technologies for working with recycled materials.At the same time, we face significant complications. First of all, we are based in Moscow, and eco-movement and sustainable activity in the Russian fashion industry is only taking the first steps in its development. We have to explain our position to many old-school productions, and very often we do not get an understanding. As well as being a young brand, we try to reduce any margins as much as possible, but we always remember that behind the production of each garment there are lots of people and their hard work must be paid accordingly. Ethics is important for us at all stages of work, so we always work with companies that care about the environment, experiment with recycled materials and this also affects the cost of the high quality fabrics and raw materials that we purchase from them.
Where could you serve as a role model for others?
Being an example or a role model for someone is a big responsibility. I doubt that I have enough experience or knowledge for this. I was lucky enough to be a witness of so many changes in the history of my country and it all formed my vision and way of thinking. Every day I analyze the time I spent at two universities in two different countries, surrounded by completely different people. And now I tell stories from my life and listen to what people say to me in response. We are on equal footing.
How fashion industry nowadays can help more the creatives?
The pressure of seasonality has become so great. It seems that established high luxury and mass market brands have started to follow the same fast fashion working concept. We all follow the established schedule of the world fashion weeks and buyers’ showrooms. Like a leash around the neck. But in the end, one expensive jacket is replaced by almost the same expensive jacket in just a couple of months in the store. So what’s the point? All creativity has become a race. Slow-produced and long-life garments should become a priority for luxury market.
Can you tell us a little bit about your references for the Spring/Summer 2020 Collection?
The project started with the time when all the news was about Russia just brought in a law to try to disconnect its internet from the rest of the world. Everyone was talking about the introduction of censorship in the Internet. So I began to study all aspects of the issue and asking myself variety of questions. How would our lives change if Russia’s internet were subjected to state control and the country were put behind a virtual iron curtain? Can complete control stimulate creativity? Can restrictions and controls bring people together instead of dividing them into factions? These questions are not only political, but also personal, and I think each person can respond to them only for him or herself.
How do you want people to feel when they wear your clothes?
Empowered. Emotional. Balanced mentally and physically. The brand fully shares the desire of people to erase frames and restrictions, minimize divisions and give everyone the opportunity to wear clothes according to their values, ethical and non binary.
Which was your best-selling piece from your Fall/Winter 2019 Collection?
This was the brand’s debut collection. That season we first entered the fashion market and I introduced the concept of the «tetrapak» shoulders. This innovation immediately attracted a lot of attention from buyers, both the press and the audience. The most requested item was a lemon-colored suede jacket with the signature «tetrapak» shoulders and hairy embroidery on the back. As far as I remember, it was in every buyer’s order during that showroom and had impressive sales in our online store. Inspired by the success of this model, it is now an iconic piece of the brand.
What do you think about the opportunity of selling your products on online platforms?
Selling collections online is a very progressive, economical and environmentally friendly way of presenting the new season. This definitely stimulate the development of innovative technological solutions, companies design and implement AR/VR to test products and investing in creating live-stream shopping events. Yes, widespread use of this technologies is still the future, but it even sounds exciting. Significantly reduces the amount of waste and provides opportunities for the development of sustainable solutions. Even professional buyers can feel a convenient online experience. Now NOB Showroom (Paris, France) where the brand presents new collections every season has introduced a virtual platform and provides the opportunity to order online. This way buyers can place orders remotely, which makes their work safe during this difficult period and adds a new experience.
How do you choose the showroom that represent your brand?
Nob showroom in Paris belongs to Nob Agency in Moscow, which the brand has been working with since its foundation. We all work under the same roof and spend so much time together that we’ve already become a big slightly troublesome family. The very first collection of the brand was presented to international buyers in the first season of the Nob Showroom in Paris, so we grow, progress and move forward together and only death do us apart))
What advice can you give to young designers regarding the sales showroom?
Don’t stress about the fact that things don’t always work out well. Its normal, welcome to the club. Don’t stop trying over and over again. Analyze your victories and defeats.Use critical thinking – you will be given a huge amount of advice and opinions. Most of them are good in theory, but there is a long way between theory and practice. You have to go through it yourself.Turn off your internal designer and put yourself in the shoes of the people who will sell and buy your collection.The most important thing – you should always be able to fulfil the confirmed buyer’s orders. For the new brands on the market, reputation is very important, so consider your production capabilities.
What young designers need right now from fashion industry to grow up more?
Do you remember Pink Floyd? «…Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone…»