The Brand That's Making Sure You Don't Forget The Cold War
Rubashka is a Russian-American streetwear brand currently based out of Washington State. We spoke with the founder Dmitriy about how his Russian background has influenced everything from the cyrillic alphabet used in his logo to the meaning behind many of his pieces. In addition, Dmitriy also spoke about the influence that both America and the USSR have had on one another over the years, other Russian brands he wants to work with, and what we can expect to see from Rubashka in the future.
Where are you from?
Dmitriy: I'm based in Washington State.
When did you start Rubashka?
Dmitriy: March 2017.
Where does the name come from?
Dmitriy: Rubashka simply means "shirt" in Russian. It’s a staple of a man’s wardrobe.
What made you want to start a clothing brand?
Dmitriy: I wanted to start a clothing line since high school, but didn't know how to until I went to college. I always saw so many cool streetwear brands in high school and was inspired to bring something new to the table.
What made you design your main logo in Russian lettering?
Dmitriy: The original logo was in English and was around for less than a year. It didn't sit right with me. Using the cyrillic alphabet felt more authentic. Since the language is foreign to an American audience, the letters act almost like a logo rather than a wordmark. That was the philosophy behind it.
I know it means “shirt”. What’s the inspiration behind such a simple name?
Dmitriy: I named the company shirt for many reasons. First, it’s funny because it’s literally a "shirt company." The name is comparable to the brand "vetements" which means clothes in French. Second, Rubashka is a foreign word and is fun to say, it’s intriguing.
Do you like to keep your logo and designs minimalistic?
Dmitriy: More or less I have only been using the logo here and there as I focus most on making new designs. A lot of shirts simply have a design without the logo plastered everywhere.
Russian streetwear brands are becoming more popular recently. Do you think American consumers are drawn to the allure of wearing something in Russian?
Dmitriy: Yes. Russia and America have had deep influences on each other over the past 100 years. In the Soviet Union having western (American) clothing and goods was rare and cool for most people, especially as the Iron Curtain was opening up during the 1980's and 90s. I think the US is liking Russian streetwear and the like as the culture has seeped in here a lot over the past few decades.
Talk about your “Banned 1985” T-shirt. What’s the story behind that?
Dmitriy: The 1985 shirt is symbolic of Western music and culture influencing the youth at the time in the 1980’s. The idea came from my dad who told me of how he used to listen to American rock music with his friends through bootlegged tapes. The Soviet Union was struggling to keep Western music from permeating the youth at the time and generally banned American rock music from the radio.
Do you see this as being in the same vein as the suppression of media as “fake news” today?
Dmitriy: Media suppression is alive and well today in America. Unfortunately people either do not see it or do not care.
Talk about the “Black Market Supply” tee you designed. What was the meaning behind that?
Dmitriy: The black market supply tee references "the second economy" in the Soviet Union. It’s a social and economic term that describes how foreign/Western goods were often illegally sold all over the USSR. These goods were hard to come by. American blue jeans is a popular example of this.
It seems like you have a large anti-apocalyptic / war message you spread. Why do you think it’s important to spread that?
Dmitriy: I really enjoy apocalyptic themes and movies. A major reason why I incorporate that into the designs is because during the cold war both Americans and Russians had a very real fear of the end coming, the apocalypse. I continue this theme as global events still cause people to fear the end.
Do you believe we’ll see a WWIII within our lifetime?
Talk about your One World Or None hoodie. What is it and what does it mean?
Dmitriy: One world or none is the name of the first "atomic scare film." It was created right after WW2 and the culture of nuclear war fears began.
Do you fear nuclear war?
What can we do to avoid it?
Dmitriy: Live life. There’s been 70+ years of this fear with no war yet.
What does it mean to be a Russian-American streetwear brand?
Dmitriy: Russian-American streetwear is simply showing how cultures clash and interact with each other. There are a lot of people in the USA who have an ethnic background somewhere else but identify as American and live in the USA. It’s relatable.
Are there any specific Russian streetwear brands you want to work with?
Dmitriy: I think working with SSUR or Sputnik 1985 would be cool.
Are there any other designers, brands or people you want to work with?
Dmitriy: I want to work with Heron Preston, Palace, WTAPS. That would be a dream since I enjoy those brands.
Talk about your upcoming release. What should we expect to see?
Dmitriy: This month the USA drop is happening. Every summer I release a new USA design that is spelled in Russian. It is dropping in time for the 4th of July.
What should we expect to see from Rubashka in the future?
Dmitriy: After so many requests, I will be doing a chernobyl themed drop for July. I have been holding it off for a while and now I think it’s the perfect time to release it.
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