“Fashion should be produced exactly when it is consumed…”
Ahead of the iconic Red Square, we had a chance to attend the biggest fashion event in Russia, CIS and EMEA. With more than 10 shows everyday, the Russian fashion scene was a memorable one. From young Russian designers to exciting global talents from all around the world, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia was one for the books. Surrounded by fashionable attendees at the historic Manege of Moscow, we had a chance to speak with the President of the Russian Fashion Council, Alexander Shumsky. Passionate about the sustainability of garment making and the growth of Russian fashion, Shumsky gave us an idea of his vision and goals.
The creative mind behind the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week for the past 20 years, Shumsky has been developing the event two times each year. Working with more than 500 brands, the President says the most exciting thing about his job is the seasonal efforts with his team. Laughing while using the cliche of “passion in fashion,” Shumsky underlines that fashion is not actually his passion! Stating that his focus is more on the sustainability, Shumsky says he does not spend a lot of money on fashion. Believing in the idea of wearing “one good quality shirt,” for ten years, the pioneer sees a global change in the production side. Having strong ideas about changing the structure of the fashion industry in Russia, Shumsky touches a good point; “Supply chains, production… Everything is just like hundred years ago. Same workers, same sewers. The equipment changed but the process didn’t.” With the ever evolving fashion industry, Shumsky says everything has to change, from the creative side to the production process. Relying on new technologies, Shumsky thinks that 3D printing could help shortening production processes, “Lot of stock and collections are going to garbage fields. This is not sustainable, fashion should be produced exactly when it is consumed.”
As the brain behind the Russian fashion week, we wouldn’t have guessed the extended efforts that Shumsky has been leading. Personally lobbying with Rus Patent, Shumsky has been discussing to change the intellectual property laws for fashion designers. “The designer who demonstrates the collection has to have the right to the collection. But registering patents is a very long process. Everywhere,” says Shumsky, that’s why he is putting effort to shorten this time and support designers. Developing new editions to the intellectual property laws, Shumsky’s goal is to create a huge support system for young designers. Experienced in identifying what is original, Shumsky states that he has observed many designers buying clothes from Alibaba and changing the tags for resales. “We are experts now, we try to choose the best designers from thousands of applications,” says Shumsky, who has discovered 80% of the most famous Russian brands.
Even though Shumsky has an extended business vision, he is still a major supporter of the creative process. Working with many factories and producers, Shumsky underlines the misconception fo the start point of fashion: “It was different in the Soviet Union before, fashion started from the factories. That is why authorities think the factory is the most important thing. Yet, it is actually the designers because they create the content. Designers can produce their garments wherever they want because logistics today, is very easy and fast. Maybe ten years ago it could take weeks but now it takes one week to make few deliveries.” One of the biggest supporters of the fashion industry in Russia, Shumsky wants to give chance to young designers by creating free platforms for them to showcase their creations.
Seeing years ahead of his time, Shumsky sees the disruption of the global fashion industry a beneficial one. Leaning on technology, Shumsky trusts in new business models. With the visit to Aizel, a concept store founded by Aizel Trudel who is among Business of Fashion’s 500 list, Shumsky notes that e-commerce is a huge market place for Russian designers. Providing shoppers with hundreds of young designers, the President states it is a platform to look out for. “E-commerce has the power to boost local designers,” says Shumsky, emphasizing that the fashion industry in Russia is a young one. When asked, “Which market to look out for in terms of growth,” Shumsky says “Anywhere!” The power of e-commerce and social media is undeniable, Shumsky agrees. He still believes there are four major markets that are shaping the trends: Italy, France, America and England, yet he says this will change: “These markets have the biggest brands. And of course if a brand has shops in every city, all top people are wearing them, and they run multi-billion dollar companies, they are defining the global taste. Everybody is following them but life is changing and their influence is changing. 20 years ago there were 200 brands and they had a monopoly. But now Lady Gaga will wear some Russian brand and it will have a global impact. Now he small designers are effecting the world and the trends and I think that in 10 years there will be thousands of brands impacting the industry.” Highlighting the growth of online and social media, Shumsky is sure that any brand anywhere in the world can suddenly become the “it-brand.”
Wrapping up our discussion, Shumsky desires more and more newness in fashion. He advices young designers to “follow their strong creative vision without being scared.” Shumsky says that designers are following global trends and they shouldn’t: “Being a designer is a special occupation. You could not be a designer if you are not obsessed into creating something new new new. And this is the point, you should create. And today your creation could be demanded and you can be exposed in the market place, you can be exposed on instagram and you can get clients very easily.” Mashing up his creative and business perception, the President of the Russian Fashion Council is one to look out for. Starting by altering the local industry, Shumsky has grown out of his territory and now welcoming designers from all around the world to the Fashion Week in Moscow.