#loveyourhomo is the message Ukrainian based label KIEV WORKWEAR champion. The anonymous creatives behind the cheeky designs discuss discrimination in Kiev, the new wave of Eastern European designers and the future of fashion.
KIEV and ROLEMODELS
KIEV is receiving a lot of media attention not only for its elegant Post Soviet industrial designs but also for the activism the label is championing for the LGBTQI community. What are the greatest challenges your team is confronted with given the discriminatory provisions and laws against the LGBTQI community?
The greatest challenge is to keep focus on the message and make it clear for everybody to embrace, LGBTQI community and not. We haven’t had any particular problem during our activity because the world outside seems to be very supportive but yes our country has a long way to go regarding human and gender rights. We feel bad for shameless laws that hurt and sometimes kill people and we should all do our little part to help tolerance and inclusion as if the only way of living in contemporary world.
What was the inspiration of drawing aesthetic parallels with IKEA?
The inspiration came from our traditional workwear aesthetic, it came up very spontaneous because it is rooted and deeply part of our culture, we decided to express the connection representing it in a new vision and image, layering it with homosexual identity and working class culture. IKEA is by itself a world to explore and for us the most appealing way to communicate our aesthetic. Our logo plays with IKEA lettering but the most powerful thing is our slogan #loveyourhomo that carries the message no matter how the future collections will be.
What makes someone a role model for you?
The most important feature for a role model to us is being honest with yourself no matter what you are doing or achieving. Everything that comes with that makes it special and powerful, we try to follow these kind of people no matter the job they do or the background they come from.
What advice would you give to your adolescent self?
BE BRAVE AND FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS, ALWAYS.
“This is a matter of political and social equality rather than a matter of sexes.”
The minimalistic industrial designs are a nod to the working class, however is the intended customer a working class individual or from a more affluent background?
The intended consumer doesn’t have to come from any specific background, the most important is to be curious and interested in carrying that aesthetic and eventually the message. We speak to everybody and the response is quite good especially lately from girls that in the beginning made some effort approaching the brand. Working class wardrobe is close to a dry use of garments, solid and long-lasting, pieces that can be worn in years.
What was the motivation for creating high quality workwear?
High quality workwear comes from choosing the best materials and the best Italian assembling to make sure we can actually give our customers the best lasting garments possible, being honest through quality is our goal.
The Love Your Homo line at first seems a bit cheeky and an obvious play on IKEA’s Love Your Home, but is there more to it, like an underground movement?
Love Your Homo is our little simple message we want people to carry around, the movement comes from our customers which embrace the meaning and spread it. We believe that when it comes to speaking about rights it’s never enough and simple powerful messages are always welcome. We are not saving people, we have to be honest, but all the attention that comes with it especially in countries of European Middle East is already something good to talk about. We want to be in this new European wave that designers such as GmbH collective are building to reach out to new categories of consumers and speak for them, representing them in big events such as fashion weeks.
Is there an organisation, artist, designer or creative that makes your excited for the future?
As mentioned before we are really looking forward to seeing in the future designers such as GmbH collective but also photographers such as Bruna Kazinoti or Daniel W. King who catch the essence of our Eastern Europe subcultures in their amazing pictures. We usually try to give also space to new artists ( illustrators, independent fanzines, graphic designers… ) that love to collaborate with us and be part of this “spontaneous” virtual team we build everyday. These our future creative people and we want to support them because it’s what we do with our own team.
What would you graffiti on the back of a toilet door?
At this stage KIEV is designed for men. You’ve mentioned in the future that you would like to design a women’s collection. Will the designs embody the same authenticity and understated design details?
We are currently working on the new collection, still based on the workwear scenario but drowned in a new field. We want to respect our roots and be able to speak to a wider audience such as women even if we believe our first launch is quite genderless. More attention to details is our current task, we are growing fast and some big shops ( such as Jeffrey NY ) are starting to understand us and our message. We want to also thank @mathiasrosenzweig from Milk Magazine that supported our very first launch and interview back in July.
Do you believe the dynamism of androgynous collections, such as Palomo Spain’s is the future of fashion?
The future of fashion is to be authentic. A french friend who worked for years as VM for Chanel said once to us: PAS DE CREATEUR, which means “we don’t have creators anymore”,we are really missing something outstanding that has never been done before and it’s quite a task at the moment. We do really appreciate Palomo’s work and the breakthrough they made in the last 2 years. For sure the dynamism of androgynous designs is something at the moment and will lead to a whole new aesthetic in the future. Thanks to brands such as Rad Hourani which are working on genderless visuals since years we have a good opportunity to drag it into new levels. This is a matter of political and social equality rather than a matter of sexes.
One of the benefits of our digital age is being able to connect fluidly with individuals from all over the world, if admirers of KIEV (like EL CHAMP) could do something to support the brand’s vision, what would you ask us to do?
Our virtual community is less virtual that what it may seem because, as we were explaining before, our fans are our active contributors of the image we want to share. Our admirers are sometimes stylists or graphic designers and we usually work with them with pleasure for designs or shootings, we can define our team as “open” because people like you (EL CHAMP) too have been supporting the brand as a collective project rather than a fashion brand.
We would ask you to carry our message in any possible and spontaneous way!
In five years time, what do you hope for KIEV to have achieved and how would you define success?
In five years time we hope to be in as many quality stores as possible, to see people carrying around our message in different designs. We would like to collaborate more and more with little magazines and maybe present our collection with an event and share this with our admirers. Success is not necessary paired with substance, we hope to see our message around, thats all.