Let's be frank. Russia is not known for style, it's known for having - in some quarters - lots of money. There aren't necessarily plenty of underground designers around. But what Moscow has managed to accumulate over the years, basically since the fall of Communism, is a decent selection of multi-brand fashion retail. Forgo the big brand stores that line the Red Squarea hot bed of politics and religion in the past, and now just another brick in the capitalist board game and check out the independent multi-brand stores. David Hellqvist measures the fashion health of Moscow by taking a closer look into these stores; where they are, who they stock, how they are decorated and the general curatorial levels of the brand selection.
When looking at the independent shops, Moscow fares quite well. I was only there for a handful of days and probably didn't see all the good ones, but here's my favourite stores selling a wide array of brands and all with very different aesthetic directions. First up, in order of my visits, is Le Form. Quite classic in their buy, they stock Dries Van Noten, Silent by Damir Doma, Yohji Yamamoto and Stone Island. It's not extravagant in any way, just good and solid. These are pieces you'll buy to wear. The layout, though, and the interiors that are sold alongside the clothes make it a quirky and interesting shopping experience.
Next door you'll find Fott. It's pure streetwear. This shop could have been found in New York or London any day of the week. Although not particularly forward-thinking and experimental in its buy, Fott features all the brands we love and wear one a daily basis. You're probably wearing one or two of them today! Everything from Penfield, Nananmica and New Balance to Woolrich Woolen Mills, Gitman and Patagonia can be found - plus a few bits of Norse, Red Wing, Nigel Cabourn and Mark McNairy. Perhaps a few of the more surprising bits included 6876 x Rohan, Aspesi and Dehen. This is very much a Mecca for contemporary streetwear in Moscow, and I instantly felt at home though maybe I missed one or two unusual and surprising brands
Now, Podium was an interesting one. It was by far the least exciting one for me - but purely because I don't buy in to the brands. Also, they call themselves a 'concept store', it's even spelt out over the entrance never a good sign. Inside, you'll find four floors oddly mixingf vintage with extravagant luxury. Skipping all the womenswear, I went straight to the men's dept and found a few quit dark and moody Russian brands, sort of like Demeulemeester and Rick Owens-inspired. It was unsettling enough to make me greet Balmain, Givenchy, Kris Van Assche, Dior Homme and Giuliano Fujiwara with a smile. So you get the picture this is really just a store for people with money, looking for style. While they might find *a* style here, it's most likely gonna be defined by two tags, one for the brand and the other one for the price.
Finally we reached what was probably my favourite sort of a mixture of them all, keeping the good bits and loosing Balmain et all. KM 20 is a ground floor store with a table tennis facility and a back room bar/café. Pleasant staff, nice layout and great brands made me finger my wallet several times. Visvim, Ebbets Field Flannels, Gosha Rubchinskiy, Acne, Christophe Lemaire, Sibling, Raf Simons, Walter Van Beirendonck and Henrik Vibskov, among others, make KM 20 that perfect mixture of high end fashion, quality staples, streetwear and statement pieces - the stuff that we essentially end up wearing. Less street than Fott, less vulgar than Podium and less quirky than Le Form, KM 20 has found the right balance it seems. The brand selection wasn't obvious, it didn't necessarily cater to just one demographic. And that, really, is key isn't it? You can walk in looking for Visvim trainers and leave with Sibling knitwear. Just how I like my shopping.