[INTERVIEW] KIEV: love your blue – collar homo
First of all, would you like to shortly introduce yourself and tell us how this brand was born/came to life?
The brand was born in our heads the day we had the original logo jacket in our hands. Everything was clear, according to our attraction to the logo and the Ikea world behind it. We had an instant click among workwear because it’s what we really feel is close to our historical and social aesthetic. We can set the timing between the last months of 2016 and the first of 2017 when all the Balenciaga hype was going on, that made us think we were looking in the right direction of identity. After that we built up our team that immediately started working on the first capsule collection that’s out now.
Born and raised in the Balkans, we understand the whole macho populist clothing [slav tracksuits] that men here wear on a daily basis. But looking at it as a cultural phenomenon – why has the fashion not changed for decades? Can you give us a more fashion-based explanation?
Fashion is supposed to change things when it’s well done and not the other way around, but we believe there is a concrete base made by iconic, everlasting categories of clothing that will never disappear or will appear constantly in collections as workwear. The problem is maybe that fashion changes too fast [at least 4 collections a year] and there is no time to absorb them deeply, so the risk is that the fashion industry tends to propose same ideas throughout the years to keep up with the speed.
How has the IKEA logo inspired you and what does the change from love your home to love your homo mean?
Everything started with looking at the logo as a source of inspiration to bring up a whole workwear world. The IKEA logo, a statement itself, is one of the most popular and recognizable logos from contemporary industrial image history. Primary colors and basic shapes make a perfect combination for the visual impact, easy to understand, appealing and affordable at the same time. The logo carries a strong image and represents, at its best, the working class, for which we try to give space with a new homosexual filter, supported by the LOVE YOUR HOMO slogan, the key message for this collection and the further ones. The change from ‘Love your Home’ to ‘Love Your Homo’ is necessary to link all these elements together and carry a meaning. It turned into our hashtag and recognizable motto even more than the logo itself, even if it’s there just to support it.
We love your approach in which the globally famous mottos and slogans are converted into a more local context and that that’s the starting point of your idea for progress. [Am I saying this right – the core idea is the progress of thinking or more open-mindedness in the Eastern parts of Europe.]What is your experience, is the local adaptation the wind that can bring changes of the mindset; instead of accepting the ready-made western thoughts and principles?
We are into very fast changing times for Eastern Europe according to what is happening in global fashion about the new eastern wave that crushed into the most important collections in Paris, so we believe that we are going through an exchange between western and eastern at this point. The road is very long but if the design brings things together it could be a positive, within time. This is a sign of the melting between the two sides that are now communicating one with the other. Ukraine has produced a substantial amount of new fashion designers and especially because we don’t need to invent an identity, it’s in our everyday culture and plus, personal and political go hand in hand. It’s more real for some reasons and sticks to a working class society that deeply influences our lives. We want to focus on the social and political message and make our little part supported by people that are starting to appreciate it and makes them want to be a part of it.
Who are the models that wear the collections of KIEV [are they professionals or amateurs]? Are they part of the LGBTQ+ community?
The models are all professionals because we wanted to be accurate among the first image launch on the market, we needed a specific visual project for that but we are up for street casting at the moment, so we will mix up professionals and non-professionals as well as introducing girls. The models in our previous pictures are not part of the LGBTQ+ community, but we are sure they will appear very soon even if is not mandatory for us, we don’t choose people according to their sexual identity but based on their professional skills, either homosexual or not and this also goes for our design team.
Just for clarification – all the clothes are original designs, apart from the ’uniform’ appearance?
All the clothes are original designs in terms of using real workwear reshaped among our designs and customized by print and embroidery for now. We are exploring different ways of interpreting workwear, and the new collection will speak about a different category, but will still belong to uniforms and the workwear world.
Why the working class?
The idea, as we were talking about, comes from the Ikea logo jacket that clicked into our minds very fast because it’s exactly the kind of clothing we are used to in our daily life in a proletariat environment. Workwear is representative of a new solid aesthetic to develop with plenty of new fields to explore. Working class is the power of our country and its subcultures are a part of our national identity, we do believe in functional and industrial look that, as well as sports, it’s an important part of the fashion business nowadays. Social and political issues are strictly connected and we talk about something we can’t actually forget anytime so why not focus on something we own deeply in our culture.
The aesthetic of kiev.workwear is amazing, there is an androgynous vibe to it, but all the collections are officially menswear. Are there any plans for womenswear in the future?
Sure! We are now designing the upcoming collection which will be absolutely unisex and girls will appear in our pictures to deliver the message. We are focusing on workwear most of all, which by definition has no gender identity but we will make it even more clear with this new collection.
If there are, would the collection give tribute in its aesthetics to the lesbian and other sexual preferences within the LGBT+ community?
The past and future collections’ image and message are a tribute to the whole LGBTQ+ community without any specific category. Genderless is a key word for us and we do believe it’s mandatory. Workwear and uniforms are for us the best way to express it, of course.
While researching about your brand, we noticed that your Facebook page’s rating is low even though we did not see a reason why. So we started reading them and according to the comments, there are claims that the logo is an original artwork by Vova Vorotniov – a Ukranian artist. There has to be some misunderstanding or some unintended match? Have you heard about Vova Vorotniov before? Can we have a statement from kiev.workwear?
We are absolutely up for a statement, we also thank you for this opportunity to reply.
Our Facebook page got really low ratings after a massive and simultaneous attack from several accounts that seem to be too specific to be spontaneous, we do believe there is one single account behind this, but we absolutely understand it and won’t hide any of the comments, we believe in free expression so everything that comes with that is well accepted. We discovered Vova Vorotniov’s work by these comments, so clearly we have never looked at any of the works before, nothing that could inspire our collection or logo. We explained several times how the project came up so we have nothing to hide about that, plus we have a whole workwear collection which is far from a single logo t-shirt artwork, the intentions and the meanings are very distant. There is clearly a misunderstanding and we do respect Vova Vorotniov’s work and we honestly believe we didn’t interfere in any way with his artworks. Who knows, maybe these words will reach him and we could build up a collaboration to show that hate is not part of our idea of work and definitely not our message, so just #loveyourhomo.
kiev.workwear is a brand that belongs to the new wave brands whose main advertising is via Instagram and other social media platforms. According to the statistics, are the main buyers from Eastern Europe or from other places in the world?
Instagram is our main market channel, our storyteller, our connection with the world either personal or professional with our customers that can talk with us anytime and we do reply all the time, we make sure to make them, and us, feel like a family that we’re spontaneously part of. According to the statistics, our main buyers come from Central Europe such as Germany, France, Spain, U.K, Italy and also North America. Most of the buyers are young men, who belong to the LGBT+ community. Eastern Europe is a hard market to penetrate deeply, but we are working on new strategies to make sure our message and our products reach out to those who we speak for, this is our main goal for the next collection.