The Instagram Account Decoding Streetwear’s Obsession with Cyrillic

The Instagram Account Decoding Streetwear’s Obsession with Cyrillic

Words Tori West

Meet the platform translating your Russian wardrobe.

Ever since Russian designer Gosha Rubchinskiy took streetwear by storm, a Post-Soviet 90s trend has rippled through the fashion industry. The designer, a slave to nostalgia, combines his fixation with Western logos with slogans in his native language. Gosha’s logo Гоша Рубчинский — his name in Cyrillic — is largely responsible for the fetishisation and popularity of the Russian alphabet in fashion. As more brands attempt to mimic his designs, Russian text on garments is becoming more common. But let’s be honest, if you don’t speak a word of Russian, it’s all bit of a mystery.  It’s kind of like when people used to get Latin tattoos that didn’t actually mean what they wanted them to.

Making sure you don’t make the same mistake with your clothing is Русский фашон словарь (The Russian Fashion Dictionary) an Instagram account translating your Cyrillic prints on clothing. Intent on providing clarity, the account’s anonymous creator spoke to Neighbourhood on the Insta dictionary’s relevance, “It felt more authentic understanding the text that I’m walking around displaying.” He continues, “The large majority of people wearing these clothes have no idea what they actually say or mean.”

Suprinsgly, the account holder isn’t actually Russian, which could eventually compromise the account’s output. “Initially I was sceptical that my subjects were limited, as well as my Russian Vocabulary, but then I remembered I live in London. I’m surrounded by fashion enthusiasts, as well my Eastern European friends who can translate it.” As a matter of fact, Gosha’s Post-soviet ripple effect has actually made it easier to curate the account,“The more I searched and chatted to people, the more designers I was exposed to using the Cyrillic alphabet that are willing to help me out.”

Trends, of course, come and go, so how long exactly will fashion’s Russian revolution last? “I worry about the longevity of brands that are manipulating or exploiting the Cyrillic alphabet. Western brands producing ‘Russian Streetwear’ as a direct result of the current trend, or ‘hype, could just eventually kill it altogether.” However, one could argue that it isn’t a trend, “The alphabet has been around since the 9th Century. Before long, I think the Cyrillic alphabet will become commonplace; just look at the use of Japanese and Chinese alphabets in Western brands – we don’t even think twice about it anymore.”

Keep up to date with The Russian Fashion Dictionary’s translations on Instagram.

Header image with thanks to Gosha Rubchinskiy