While some labels hire brand ambassadors and splash out millions of dollars on ad campaigns, Andrey Artyomov relies on his friends to promote his work. Fortunately, among the upstart Russian designer’s pals are Moscow’s biggest street-style stars—the stylist Natasha Goldenberg, the photographer Ilona Stolie, and the gallerist Nina Gomiashvili—who can be seen out on the town at hot spots like Bar Strelka and Ping Pong Club Moscow, and across social media platforms in looks from Artyomov’s two-and-a-half-year-old line, Walk of Shame.
“We don’t have any budget for advertising, and we don’t have a website,” says Artyomov, 32, a former editor at L’Officiel Russia who went on to launch Russian Tatler and the short-lived Dazed and Confused Russia. But his following—girls who, like him, were young children when the Berlin Wall came down—are more apt to peruse Tumblr and Instagram than the pages of fashion bibles anyway. And his improvised strategy appears to be working: Artyomov’s spring collection was picked up by Opening Ceremony in New York. Walk of Shame is an ode to his generation, full of post-Soviet “You had to be there” references: salmon-colored sweaters emblazoned with i am luxury; silk pajamas printed with tattoos; butter-soft tees adorned with screen shots from porn films like Deep Throat or embroidered with the Walk of Shame logo in the style of bad ’90s Gucci and Benetton knockoffs. “What’s so cool about Andrey is that he really has this link to what it was like when we were growing up—what you saw on TV, the first erotic movies,” says Natasha Turovnikova, a DJ and blogger.
These days, Artyomov’s gang is taking the promotion of his line to a level of performance. “When everyone goes out together, we all try to do something in order to get tagged #walkofshame,” Turovnikova says. That can mean dancing suggestively atop a bar wearing one of Artyomov’s silk slips or posing in little more than an oversize quilted jacket. A picture of Stolie, smoking in bed wearing Artyomov’s violet-dyed fur coat, garnered 857 likes. “Andrey doesn’t need Vogue,” Turovnikova argues. “He has us. He has Instagram and Facebook. Today, that’s what counts.”