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
Why did you choose POLIMODA Firenze for your education in fashion industry?
When I was deciding where to go after school, I didn’t even know that there was such a profession as a fashion designer. I had no idea about fashion industry in 90’s and no interest in it in 00’s. Being turned for technical science and continuing family tradition i chose Moscow State University of Railway Engineering and over the next five years has studied logistics, higher mathematics and descriptive geometry. Right after graduation i was hired at Research Institute for Information Technology on Railway Transport and accepted as a member of the Russian Federation delegation at annual session of WPTPF, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. My mother is a scientist, there was no chance for me to stop my studies after just one diploma. After a few years of engineering career and lots of extra classes and activities, I began to feel a growing internal anxiety about wasting my time. I can hardly remember how I even started thinking about design, but I clearly remember myself late at night sitting in my pajamas in front of the computer and studying Polimoda website. Let’s say it was confidence at first sight. Other options – design schools and programs-did not exist for me. At that moment I already felt that I’m in the right place at the right time doing the right things. In 2013 i left my positions in Research Institute and international delegation to move to Florence and to start the new beginning. I graduated from Polimoda in 2017 after studying Fashion Design Course under the tutorage of Patrick De Muynck.
Describe yourself as a designer, producer and illustrator and how can you manage the creativity process through multi-tasking ?
Before my design course, I had been engaged in geometry, construction and various kinds of drawings in a Railway Engineering University for 5 years. In fashion design, this gave me an almost complete understanding of sewing patterns and the logic of their construction. It could be said that I use reverse engineering – I imagine the final shape of a thing in my head, break it into its component parts and then I work with it in a plane. If I did not have a technical education, I would constantly need to consult a technologist. Now I work almost autonomously – at the initial stage, I rebuild all the silhouettes myself and only then give technical tasks to seamstresses, accompanying them with detailed instructions in steps. I am an engineer and my first education determines my way of thinking and systematic approach to the work process. I grew up with a feeling of complete freedom, but from the very childhood I was taught to allocate my time correctly, to set priorities and focus on the main thing here and now. Starting with each new project, I mainly focus on collages from photos and my illustrations and then create a small universe in which the entire production team will live for the next few months.
When did you land your first internship and what was the most valuable thing you learned from this experience?
I did not do an internship. Right after graduation fashion show in Florence, i returned to Moscow and went back to my work in a scientific laboratory. Fashion Design in Polimoda is not my first diploma. A few years before that, I graduated from Moscow State University of Railway Engineering and worked in a scientific laboratory. When I entered the Polimoda, my boss allowed me to work remotely. I still feel great gratitude for her help. She could have simply fired me, but she believed in me and decided to help. In that way during my stay in Florence, I spent my days studying at the Polimoda, in the evening I did engineering work remotely, and at night I worked on design projects. Every holiday-Easter, Christmas, summer, etc. – I returned from Florence to Moscow and worked in a scientific laboratory from 9 am to 6pm. After graduating from Polimoda, I didn’t wanna sit around – as soon as I returned to Moscow I went back to work in the scientific lab and started sending out my CV and design portfolio. Many didn’t even respond. For 3-4 months, I have been communicating with large companies and small brands. Those who were interested in me offered unpaid internships. I got internship offers from New York, Paris, and Antwerp, but I simply didn’t have the budget to live another 6 months in one of the world’s most expensive cities, do my internship and have no source of income. About 4 months later, I received my first serious job offer from a large Polish company – a good contract, insurance, work visa, etc. – a full set of documents.
What was your first job out of college, and how did you land that position?
Four months after my graduation from school, I was contacted by LPP, the largest Polish fast fashion company. They requested my CV and portfolio and then made me a job offer, referred to recommendations from Polimoda. By that time, I was already getting very nervous about the problems with finding an internship, so I seriously considered even the most uninteresting offers. “I think that Polish fast fashion is not really your place, so if you mind to accept the offer, please take care to read carefully all the papers in case you will need to leave before your contract runs out. I think that New York, London or Paris are the cities for you… please, don’t give up” – this is what one of my favourite professors told me about my idea to accept this job offer…but seriously who listens to the advice of their wise professors especially after graduation …Not me. I had a long correspondence with the HR Department, passed the design task test and became one of the Junior designers in the men’s department of the brand Reserved. And moved from Moscow to Gdansk (map, please). After about 8 months, I left the company.
What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when just starting out?
Aaaaalll by my seeeeeelf….” This was the soundtrack to my second year in Polimoda. For the final exam, I had to make my very first fashion collection consisting of 5 fully finished outfits + make a few applied projects (offtop – it’s a lot of work). Being an introvert/workaholic person with perfectionism syndrome (this already sounds like a problem), I used to always do everything by myself. And at that moment, I didn’t even think to ask my professors, their assistants, other students, or friends for any sort of help. A month before my final exam, I almost stopped sleeping, looked like a zombie, was under constant stress, and mixed espresso with Red Bull (never do that!) just to stay up at night and be able to work.There was no happy ending in this story. I couldn’t finish the collection in time, completely screwed up during the exam, and I thought all my work was for nothing. But experience and correct conclusions are priceless. So, the “all by myself” strategy doesn’t work. This is a fact. Team work and competent time-management bring the most productive results. Save your time by delegating less important tasks. Sleep is very important. You can’t work effectively if your mind and body are falling apart.
Models are first of all people and it is absolutely impossible to choose them just by looking at one thing. As a designer and creative director, I keep in mind not only the moodboard and the concept of the collections, but also many technical points that determine the choice of models. I’m always looking for characters, personalities. Faces that have a history behind. But if the most suitable model is not able to work professionally in front of the camera, this will be a problem. In this case, the work of the entire team will turn into hell. Everything comes with experience.
What’s the main impact of social media in fashion industry in both ways, fashion buying and brand marketing?
Social media make it possible to be more than just a name on the label. 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 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. In my social accounts i talk about my victories and defeats, and I’m not shy about the fact that things don’t always work out well. This way people can see that there is a real person behind the label. We are not a closed luxury brand. And in response to our transparency, people 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.
What is your favorite and NON-favorite part about being part of the fashion industry?
I never considered myself fully a part of the fashion industry. My engineering experience and the time I spent at two universities in two different countries, surrounded by completely different people keeps me in between two worlds. My crossing with fashion world happens 4 times a year during showrooms in Paris and 2 times a year during fashion shows in Moscow. The rest of the time, I’m more like those mice that get Cinderella at the ball and then go back to the closet with sewing machine.
Can you tell us how your brand makes a difference in fashion industry?
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. This Russian brand 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. 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. And now I tell stories from my life and listen to what people say to me in response. We are on equal footing.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for a fashion designer?
Not to get mental disorders. Well, at least not in the first 5 years of working in the fashion industry.
Define sustainable concept nowadays in fashion industry in few words.
Respect the environment through ethical production…please.
How do you think sustainable can play an important role in fashion industry?
The fashion industry is huge has a long history, and it takes a lot of time and effort to change the established concepts, norms and principles of work. And while the industry giants will adapt to new realities, new small brands will enter the market. Upcycling and recycling brands will 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. Being a young brand, we try to reduce any margins as much as possible, but 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.
What do you think about the opportunity of selling your collections online nowadays?
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 the NOB Showroom (Paris, France) where the brand presents new collections every season has become virtual 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.
RED SEPTEMBER FALL/WINTER 2020/2021
ARCHITECTURAL + INDUSTRIAL FASHION