“stylish import substitution” stumbled on the ruins of the industry

“Who is good at sewing in Russia?” asked the participants of the business program of the Moscow Fashion Week. However, it was not so easy to find the answer to it.

These days, from June 20 to June 26, Moscow is hosting Fashion Week – Moscow Fashion Week. It may seem strange that such an event is taking place at a time when our country is undergoing an unprecedented special operation to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine, but this is not the case, and there have already been examples in history. It was during World War II that red lipstick became wildly popular in the United States: women always want to look good, regardless of the events taking place in the world.

In addition, our country is facing an unprecedented sanctions hurricane that has affected almost all industries. The fashion industry has also been affected.

  • Soaring prices for equipment, fabrics, accessories,
  • the resulting deficit of everything and everything,
  • destruction of supply chains,
  • difficulties with paying for imports,
  • blocking popular promotion and sales sites –

these are just a few of the challenges that Russian fashion designers have had to face in recent times.

On the other hand, the withdrawal of many foreign brands from Russia opens up a wide window of opportunity for “fashionable import substitution.”

Therefore, Moscow Fashion Week 2022 is held under the motto “The most stylish import substitution you’ve ever seen.”

What is the state of the Russian light industry? What will we be walking in? Who and from what will sew all this? Participants of the plenary session “Russia’s New Fashionable Infrastructure and Import Substitution” spoke about this and many other things “without varnishing”.

Expert opinions

Igor Chapurin, fashion designer: “We destroyed what we did not create ourselves”

For eminent Russian fashion designer Igor Chapurin the textile industry is a family story: his parents worked at a huge full-cycle knitting factory, and his grandfather is known for building and launching linen factories throughout Russia. Today, everything is destroyed, the fashion designer stated with undisguised bitterness, citing as an example only a few industries created and successfully functioning in pre-revolutionary and Soviet times, but now destroyed.

“We destroyed what we did not create ourselves. And I see no other option than the moment when the state decides to restore all this. This moment will be the beginning of the revival. It will have to be done anyway,” he said.

According to Chapurin, it is necessary to revive the Russian light industry by creating new clusters. This will allow it to develop more dynamically.

Olesya Shipovskaya, founder of the Lesyanebo brand: “I would like to find a common language with the state”

Designer of the popular, including abroad, brand Lesyanebo Olesya Shipovskaya outlined the main issues to be dealt with. This is, firstly, expensive rent and the lack of subsidies from the state. In addition, the personnel issue is very acute. According to Shipovskaya, almost all garment production technologists are already elderly people who were educated back in Soviet times, but finding a young specialist is a task on the verge of fantasy.

“All our collections are entirely made up of foreign raw materials, there is nothing that we produce ourselves. And, of course, I would like to find a common language with the state in order to somehow solve all these problems,” Olesya added.

Alexander Rogov, stylist: “Fashion is not entertainment, but a serious industry”

fashion expert Alexander Rogov emotionally involved in the discussion. In his opinion, it is time for the state to pay attention to the “light industry”.

“The state must realize that fashion is important for the country. Otherwise, it turns out that we – designers, fashion designers, stylists – do everything as if only for ourselves. Fashion is not entertainment, but a serious industry!” he said.

Mikhail Kusnirovich, entrepreneur: “It’s not the sovereign’s business – you need to produce baubles”

The previous speakers were opposed by the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Bosco di Ciliegi group of companies Mikhail Kusnirovich. He is sure that benefits and preferences from the state only destroy entrepreneurial independence. In his opinion, Russian entrepreneurs are dependent on the whole world due to their own mental problems, the main of which is a dependent position.

“You create and have fun while you are on your own. As soon as the state begins to be responsible for a private initiative, you don’t have to have fun. In general, it’s not the sovereign’s business — you make baubles. Only the client is the engine of our industry,” said the businessman.

In addition, Kusnirovich is convinced that every brand needs a historical component, which must be treated with respect so as not to level the very concept of a brand. Therefore, in his opinion, it is presumptuous to expect that young Russian brands “in one minute” will be able to replace such “mastodons of the fashion world” as, for example, Chanel.

Valery Belgorodsky, Rector of the Russian State University A. N. Kosygina: “We are restoring the failure of the 2000s”

Rector of the country’s leading specialized university Valery Belgorodsky explained the situation with personnel, which is now so lacking in light industry. According to Belgorodsky, the current shortage of personnel is explained by the fact that in the 1990s-2000s the prestige of the profession fell sharply. (Most of the then applicants really preferred to enter mainly law and economic faculties. – Note. ed.). As a result, out of 37 areas in the industry, almost only design remained. Now there are two universities left in Russia (Moscow and St. Petersburg), which continue to produce specialists in all industry areas.

“Moscow is doing a lot to restore this personnel failure of the zero years. The current vocational training is a whole ecosystem, ranging from children’s technology parks, including colleges that train personnel for enterprises, and ending with universities,” the rector said.

According to Belgorodsky, now there is no question of state management of the industry. But the state is ready to support young designers by subsidizing and popularizing their work.

Georgy Rostovshchikov, President of the International Buyers Association International Buyers Hubcomplained:

“There are many designers in Russia, but few brands. And not all retailers are ready to integrate Russian brands into their brand lists.”

Alexey Fursin, Head of the Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovative Development of the City of Moscow: “Fashion is not only creativity, but also business”

The representative of the city authorities explained the interest in the fashion event. According to Alexey Fursinfor the Moscow government, the economy is primarily important, and Moscow Fashion Week is not only fashion shows and glamorous parties, but also transactions worth hundreds of millions of rubles.

“Fashion is not only creativity, but also business. And Moscow is the largest market, accounting for about 30% of the entire Russian fashion market,” he said.

The head of the department also commented on the heated debate between the speakers, noting that the authorities have something to offer the fashion business: subsidies, assistance in organizing shows, etc.

Oleg Bocharov, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation: “We must learn not to deceive ourselves”

The Deputy Head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade in his speech noted many critical moments that exist in the industry, the most important of which is the virtual absence of the industry as such. In his opinion, these acute questions must be asked, because even the answer “I don’t know” allows us to see problem points, points of growth. The industry itself, of course, needs state support, believes Oleg Bocharov.

“The world has turned upside down. Now all the chains are just being built anew. The industry has not been formed, there is no single space, and now any business — small, medium, large — has problems. We do not have a basic resource. These are people, equipment, actually material resources. This is the task of the Ministry of Industry and Trade , and the task is long. First of all, we must learn not to deceive ourselves,” the deputy minister said.

Glamor in ruins

Thus, while Muscovites are enjoying fashion shows and figuring out what new clothes produced by Russian designers should be acquired, serious battles are unfolding on the negotiation platforms between fashion industry professionals, business representatives and government officials. Who would have thought that, for example, buttons (it would seem, what a trifle!) Could be a whole problem! But – the necessary buttons are not produced in Russia, and if it were only about them. The same applies to other accessories, and sewing equipment and accessories for it, and fabrics that seem to be still produced by us, but the quality is not the same, the prints are not the same, the designers say. So what will we wear in the not too distant future?

There are options, of course. For example, you can import clothes and shoes from Southeast Asia. But, you yourself understand that in these products the price / quality ratio is often far from being in favor of quality. So the most strategically correct and promising option is to restore our own light industry. And I really hope that one of the results of this “fashion week” will be not only new names of Russian designers and multimillion-dollar contracts, but also that the state and the creative industry will hear each other and begin to take steps towards. This will benefit the entire country.

How to look fashionable and modern: Trends 2022

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