Who? Kiev-based husband and wife team Ksenia and Anton Schnaider founded their label in 2011. From the start, the pioneering duo wanted to innovate the fashion industry, whether by broadcasting their Spring/Summer 2012 collection via webcams or launching an online made-to-measure service in 2015. It wasn’t until the pair landed on denim that the real fashion revolution began.
What to expect? Daring denims in polarising cuts, satirical slogans, and reworked sportswear.
Shorts-over-jeans might sound like a fashion faux-pas you might have made the first time you dressed yourself for school. But sometimes, the stars align in such a way to make the cringiest trends runway-ready. In this case, of course, the stars were Bella and Gigi Hadid.
There are several other factors which helped “demi-denims” become the statement jeans of the past few years. It all starts with culottes. In 2016, when Ksenia and Anton first launched the unusual design, the wide-legged style was already a wardrobe staple. It wasn’t until 2018 that the combo took off, just as 90s and 00s nostalgia for distressed jeans and “Britney and Justin” double denim began to dominate our Instagram feeds. The Ukrainian duo have repackaged all of this for the present day, somehow making the faux rips look more elegant than grunge.
If the Ksenia Schnaider philosophy is all about reinventing familiar staples, one thing to note is you don’t have to rip up and restitch your clothes to imbue them with new meaning. The Sample Not for Sale t-shirt is something of a meta-joke. Like the industrial red tags purposefully “left on” Off White trainers, “Sample Not for Sale” is a play on the labels you see on sample garments that remain hidden away from the runway in stockrooms. Essentially a valueless item, in this reworking it carries an air of exclusivity and prestige — the garment equivalent of the PR friend you compliment at a party who says, with excruciating ease: “Oh you can’t get this t-shirt anywhere. I happened to work on the show and it was just given to me.”
Whether you see it as a comment on how the fashion industry has run out of ideas, or merely proof that people will just about buy anything, the slogan hits like a punchline. Of course, jokes, like trendy slogan tees, run the risk of being copied. So it was disappointing but perhaps not surprising that in March 2018, Ksenia Schnaider’s satirical design was spotted online on the popular fashion retailer Zara. A quick Google search reveals that multiple fast-fashion companies have sold the same slogan. Probably not the kind of “recycling” the designer duo were hoping to promote with this product.
When faux fur made its triumphant appearance on runways, it seemed the fashion world let out a collective sigh. Since then, global brands like Burberry, Versace, and Gucci have all vowed to make their collections cruelty-free. Last year, London Fashion Week became the first international fashion week to ban animal fur. Meanwhile, imitation furs are now available in dramatic volumes and glorious technicolour (just feast your eyes on this fabulously furry Burberry cape).
The industry’s most divisive subject is still a contentious topic, with people deliberating whether the cruelty-free alternative is all that good for the environment. While brands are looking for ways to makes fake fur greener, sustainability advocates Ksenia and Anton have stuck to their signature material: vintage denim. You needn’t be embarrassed about transitioning your denim jacket from summer to winter. Time for Kiev’s female population to ditch their beloved shubas and brave the cold.
When you’re head to toe in distressed recycled denim, it makes sense that your statement accessory would be another 90s throwback. Compared with Ksenia Schanider’s other avant-garde inventions, the bucket hat — which first appeared on the Spring/Summer 2019 runway — is unusually restrained (although this hasn’t stopped Bella Hadid flaunting it on Instagram). What makes it recognisably “Schnaider” is the oversize square shape. If you’re looking for a laid-back look, there no better combo than the bucket hat and demi-jeans. If you think about it, the downward-sloping brim is the demi-jean in reverse — not to mention the hat is fashionably genderless.
The husband-wife duo sure know how to keep influencers, journalists, and celebrity stylists hooked. Topping their bizarre list of trend-bait is the brand’s pièce de résistance, the asymmetrical jeans: a style of trouser that is both skinny and flared. The idea was to combine two of their best-selling models. Like any typical husband and responsible business partner, Anton, called the idea “crazy”. Ksenia told i-D US that, at first, she put the idea to bed: “Then a few months ago, I realised that at least one person needs this kind of jeans — me.”
The skinny-baggy trouser combo were unveiled as part of the Pre-Fall 2019 collection, which also featured recycled patchwork sportswear for the first time. No need to feel sorry for poor Anton: the jeans have already become a viral sensation, prompting plenty of deserving questions. Who will actually wear this? What shoes go with asymmetrical trousers? Will Zara copy this daring design? We’re dying to know what the Ukrainian duo will think of next. I’m going to eschew crotchless shorts or trousers for high-waisted jeans with a built-in bum bag.