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The End of Gosha Rubchinskiy?

What Is Wrong With Gosha Rubchinskiy and Why His Era May Come to an End

The fashion industry is about to be shaken by another scandal in which Russian designer Gosha Rubchinskiy was implicated starting from December 2018. It seemed like the rumours were going to be forgotten and settled down, but circumstances appeared to be more unexpected than it considered before.

Gosha Rubchinskiy, definitely, is contradictory figure who managed to gain a great success in the West, out of his motherland country – Russia, winning a status of designer who brought a «breath of the fresh air» into fashion industry on a par with Demna Gvasalia with his undying Vetements (I’m sorry for mentioning it all over again, but he made a real revolution, we can’t deny it). And in fact, in some very strange way his unremarkable hoodies and sweatshirts, sprawling sweatpants and t-shirts – which you could buy at H&M for modest $10 and with not less decent quality – earned huge popularity among millennials who found Cyrillic script statements and phrases extremely attractive and extraordinary. Gosha Rubchinskiy turned into not just one of the most relevant fashion figures who establishes trends of Russification and dresses up worldwide celebrities in his Cyrillic painted hoodies, transforming Russian streetwear of the ‘90s into a global cult. His brand not only gained an enormous number of likes on Instagram but also became the most desirable one in the teenager’s wardrobe, being suddenly considered as a voice of the modern generation.

It’s impossible to assert that Rubchinskiy’s garments prevail with technological and designer fabric innovations – no. We can say with confidence that he didn’t invent a bicycle but in some miraculous way he exalted his Russian language prints clothes to the top of the fashion religion selling it for an outrageous amount of money and suggesting his followers and clients – so to speak – to immerse themselves into his habitual environment where he grew up and established as a creative person – Russia of the ‘90s, the breaking apart USSR, his legacy and reflections, some of which most of Russians would like to hide inside the babushka’s treasure chest and never remember it again. Anyway, the style of listening to Na-Na band (Russian musical group that was famous in the ‘90s) bums and dysfunctional teenagers from the poor big city districts has been accidentally appreciated by satiated of the luxury overseas public. It’s ridiculous and somehow disgustingly sad: prosperous people try to pretend and fit the look of the dysfunctional ones, spending a huge amount of money that doesn’t even cost a thing. Isn’t it an irony of the modern society or consumerism that neglected to its the highest stage? However, we don’t talk about it.

How remarkably, but Europe and the USA which were surrounded by the luxury of the eminent brands and designers with a perennial history, like this kind of product inspired by the nation and the country that have been already perceived as a weirdest one among others. The shown interest to the Russian designer’s creations as much as to Russia, in general, appeared to be totally unexpected, but – one way or another – celebrities started wearing Gosha Rubchinskiy’s clothes without exception, publishing their photos on Instagram and posing in front of paparazzi’s cameras that gained much more hype and recognition for Gosha. A sudden trend on Russification became massive, took over everyone on both sides of the Atlantic, and the clothes that seemed to be put off from the last century hanger, have never been so alluring. Whether it’s a political situation when Russia is identified as a global scapegoat, or the interest to one of the most enigmatic countries in the world reached its peak – who knows what caused a demand. Though Rubchinskiy tried to help in research on what is really happening there, in the country where everyone imagines bears living in every ordinary family and playing the balalaika, people wearing a hat with ear flaps and the weather is always tremendous.

Throughout his oeuvre, Rubchinskiy represents himself, his boyhood, memories, emotions. The country where he spent the major part of his life, in his collections is discovered more from its sad part, demonstrating to the world what it had to survive, which stages it had to overcome in order to reach the level of what it is nowadays. Perhaps, that’s why in far 2008 a bear and a two-headed eagle with machine guns turned into iconic symbols of his first collection called «The Empire of Evil», meanwhile the ‘90s – his childhood memories – a source of ideas. Nostalgia, reminiscence, boyhood – the ‘90s in Russia were the most difficult in the history of the country when criminality and famous Russian mafia got an unlimited power, perestroika (restructuring) went on, and a chance to come back home alive – if you just went to buy milk – was equal to 50%. Or, less. It’s about how lucky you were. And every time, in every collection, there is a tribute to his survival during such hard times embellished in familiar Russian motives.

No matter how grandiose his success was, Rubchinskiy is on his way to waste it swiftly as much as he earned it. News of his accusation of solicitation and paedophilia in relation to a minor spread throughout the web community provoking suspicions and rumours. Adidas that had a few collaboration with Rubchinskiy – the last one was launched on the eve of 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia – have already announced its own investigation and have suspended a further collaboration with Russian designer. Which, I suppose, won’t be released again – reputation has already damaged in the eyes of society. Ultimately, it’s time to come out with an official statement and clear up the situation in order to rescue something that’s left, but the Comme des Garçons protege keeps partisan silence, highly likely, exacerbating the situation.

The core branding element of every Rubchinskiy’s collection is youth. He chooses only young models with atypical appearance who were usually found on Instagram scopes. This is his shtick – he’s fascinated by the concept of youth that, perhaps, reminding him of the past ‘90s which will never be returned back. Young boys and girls don’t seem to come of age and remind high school students instead of completely formed persons; they are the ultimate stars of Gosha’s shows and lookbooks. Their thin bodies look somehow too clumsy and even ludicrous embraced in oversized and devoid of any clear silhouette garments that seemed to be borrowed from their fathers’ leisure wardrobe who decided to sip a bottle of beer in front of the TV on Saturday. Yes, it’s not forbidden to discuss that the whole fashion industry is addicted to youth, but little by little all the standards suffer changes, models, over 50 years-old walk down the catwalk, and Gosha still stays true to himself.

The collection of the new Rubchinskiy’s brand called GR-Uniforma has been launched last week, and it displayed the designer’s affection to youth again: male models resembling underage high school students and dressed in something that seemed to be a working uniform. This is what attracted attention to Diet Prada who suspected Rubchinskiy as a latent paedophile with a kink on little boys he interprets from collection to collection. By posting some pictures of Gosha’s works as a photographer (what a versatile personality, right?) of one of his photo-projects named «Crimea/Kids», Diet Prada cited as an example several excerpts from articles about sexual grooming in relation to underage. The official statement made by Rubchinskiy team also was subject to sarcastic comments; they declared that casting models for shows via Instagram became a regular business for several years. «It’s a normal practice nowadays. We always ask [sic] face photos, full length and topless. Sometimes photos in underwear are required in order to understand the volume of hips,» – the representative told GQ in an e-mail», was written on the screenshot that Diet Prada published in her stories. This quote was followed by a logical comment by the blogger herself: «Yeah… Cuz it’s hard to ask for a waist measurement lol.»

Anyway, there are no official sexual abuse allegations against Gosha Rubchinskiy yet, but his reputation already hangs by a thread. In the modern world where the problems of sexual harassment and solicitation both in relation to women and children perceived as acute, there will be no indulgence for Rubchinskiy. The society will destroy him if the involvement in harassment will be found out and proved, once loyal fans will turn their faces away, and even patronage from the part of powerful Comme des Garçons won’t rescue designer from failure. The place he occupies in the fashion Olympus will be released immediately, but it doesn’t mean it will be vacant and forgotten for a long time. There will be discovered another Gosha who will become another symbol of the generation and a highlight on the way of fashion development and freedom. And, I want to hope, without secret and disgraceful fetishes.