Gosha Rubchinskiy has quickly become one of the biggest names in streetwear, but the road to the top hasn't been an easy one. After the Russian designer started his eponymous label in 2008, he quickly faced several obstacles that kept him from making his clothing a success. In an interview with Business of Fashion, Rubchinskiy explains how help from Comme des Garçons finally made his vision a reality.
Even though Rubchinskiy gained international recognition for his work early on, the financial burden of self-funding the project was too much, so after showing at London Fashion Week he decided to put his label on hold.
"It’s very difficult to start a fashion label in Moscow. Good fabrics are expensive and customs rules are very strict. I started thinking that fashion for me was over," he said.
Rubchinskiy decided to focus on his photography and video projects, but he soon met Adrian Joffe the president of Comme des Garçons and the retail mastermind behind Dover Street Market. It didn't take long for Joffe to recognize his talent and want to start stocking his collection.
"I don’t see him as a fashion designer, but as a photographer, a recorder of things. I think to me it hit a nerve because of its authenticity. Lots of start-up brands see Supreme and want to do a similar thing, but it often doesn’t ring true; it feels fake or contrived. With Gosha, it feels very natural," Joffe tells BOF. "I think it’s because there is one vision, which ties everything together. From the clothes on the runway to the books, everything is one."
Unfortunately, after the first season Rubchinskiy couldn't afford the production. But, in 2012 Joffe offered to make the collections for the designer and sell them at DSM stores. Now, Comme des Garçons is the official trademark owner and producer of the Gosha Rubchinskiy line.
“We basically give him a rough structure: three to five jackets, two to three shirts, t-shirts, sweatshirts, joggers, lots of accessories. Within these parameters he’s pretty free,” Joffe explained.
Just a few years after their partnership started, keeping Gosha on the shelves is nearly impossible. The buy for Spring/Summer 2016 sold out in just two days and over the last year alone sales have grown by 350 percent, with his graphic T-shirts and accessories selling the most.
“Before he sold 10 t-shirts to his friends. For Fall/Winter 2016, the number of pieces was 50,000 and it’s doubled since last year,” Joffe said.
Rubchinskiy is currently finishing up his 10th collection and getting ready to show as the guest designer at the Pitti Uomo tradeshow, two things that might never have happened if Comme des Garçons hadn't stepped in.
“I learned everything on the business side of running a label—I never studied fashion—so how to produce and sell the collection, how to work with press. I learn every day working with Comme,” Rubchinskiy said.