The sartorial spotlight has been on the former Soviet Union for a while. While the communist regime was known for its uniforms and Brutalist aesthetic, the starkness of their designs are now back in vogue. Bleak, it seems, is now chic.
Take Gosha Rubchinskiy, the wunderkind Comme des Garçons-backed designer, whose no frills approach to streetwear has landed him collaborations with Burberry, Adidas, Kappa, and Fila, and fans like Kendall Jenner and Kanye West. Or Georgian virtuoso Demna Gvasalia, who sent models wearing velour sweat suits, jean jackets, and oversized cargo overalls down the runways during Paris haute couture. Utilitarian workwear has formally secured its place in fashion.
So it makes sense that Ukrainian designer Dmitriy Ievenko looked to his upbringing in Post-Soviet Ukraine to design his debut collection of brightly-hued puffers. “The puffer jacket was a uniform in the 90s and 2000s, it was the workwear of average people, and we find that really exciting now,” explains the founder behind Ienki Ienki, the much buzzed-about outerwear line that launched stateside earlier this fall.
While puffers have been a cult item for the fixtures of the front row for some time, and a focus of blue chip labels like Balenciaga and Prada, the Kiev native still felt he had a void to fill. “I had all the important ingredients to fill this niche,” explained Ievenko, who owns Kiev’s hottest concept shop, Asthik, and formerly worked as an editor at a Ukrainian fashion magazine.
Ievenko subscribes to the credo of doing one thing, and doing it well. The logo-less jackets, identifiable only by a wide circle zipper, range from cropped to floor length (“they’re like blankets”), and come in twenty-four electric colors such as octopus ink, a deep navy, and mauri cristal, a pale purple that ranks among his bestsellers. Another quality that separates him from the crowd? Ievenko uses goose down, as opposed to duck—a filler used by most big-name puffer brands—that doesn’t keep you as warm as goose feathers do.
The puffers have caught the attention of fashion folk like Russian style star Miroslava Duma, and in December he’ll launch a capsule collection of reflective foil jackets for the holidays, in electric blue and copper, that will be sold at Barneys, 10 Corso Como, Moda Operandi, and Opening Ceremony.
“On the ski slope all eyes will be focused on you!” Ievenko promised.