Another designer working in a similar territory this year has insider’s perspective on the matter: Ukrainian designer Anton Belinskiy was nominated for the prestigious LVMH prize with a collection largely inspired by the life of young creative people in Ukraine. Poor But Cool, his garments proudly proclaim. His story is about the present rather than the past, namely the economic and political struggles Ukraine is going through at the moment. But the message was similar to JW Anderson’s: our life is different, and while we don't have the freedom and stability people in the west take for granted, we have ideas, and our own way to do things.
The emerging generation of creatives from across the post-Soviet world like Belinskiy lived all or most of their lives in a post-Cold War world. Twenty-five years is nothing in historical terms but it’s enough to start asking: why do we keep throwing together these countries which don't have much in common apart from their traumatic past? Why does the idea of a collective identity for them still linger in our minds? The redundant notion of the Eastern Bloc was replaced, in scholarly circles at least, by the concept of the former east, and more recently, the former west as a riposte to western-centric perspectives on Europe. The territory we’re talking about could also be described as the post-communist world, or, to be less backward-looking, the new east. But it’s not just about what we hear, define or theorise. It’s also about what we see: why is there a certain aesthetic attached to the new east and why does it suddenly it seems so attractive in 2015?