Soviet Fashion

The phrases “Soviet” and “fashion” still seem to be a bit of an oxymoron in some aspects. The Soviet ideology condemned all forms of materialism and placed a strong emphasis on productivity and practicality. Even when the options are quite limited, it’s actually impossible to completely remove the need to express yourself via clothing. With the exception of the party elite, Soviet fashion frequently stems from a point of scarcity. One of the reasons why the Soviet approach to fashion is so relevant now is that it emphasises sustainability, do-it-yourself projects, and using what you already have. Luxury fashion has long embraced the understated appeal of work wear, but it has recently begun to appreciate the cheap but stylish appeal of knitwear and net bags. This is partly due to the trend toward ethical consumption, but it is also because these items look “edgy” and authentic. We could probably pick up quite a few tips from the Soviets on how to shop and dress.

Historical Background

Fashion was popular in the USSR, and new collections were frequently displayed by Soviet design houses. The lines would then go into mass production, frequently with significant changes made to the initial ideas. Almost immediately after the country was founded, Soviet fashion emerged. The major objective was to start a clothing industry in the nation and give people access to affordable, high-quality apparel. But it was also crucial to look well.

Since the 1920s, when the New Economic Policy was in place, there has always been Soviet fashion. The 1920s and 1930s saw the emergence of the “Gatsby style,” which included short hairstyles, adorable hats, and low-waisted gowns. Following World War II, fashion evolved quickly. Women who had to forget about their femininity a decade earlier, don tough attire, and stand up to the machine or even go to the front, desire beauty once more. Soviet women were interested in fashion, constantly dressed stylishly, and either hired desired models from the many fashion ateliers that could be found in every city in the USSR.

Which clients of the fashion studio can choose at any time. Subscriptions to fashion magazines were sent by mail. Such a postal service existed in the form of a yearly subscription to a fashion magazine. In Moscow, the first fashion house was established and was given union-wide status. It entered its first international clothing competition in Prague in 1953. Every significant industrial city has had at least one fashion house. Fashion businesses in Leningrad, Moscow, Minsk, and Kiev published fashion publications. Each fashion firm had a store where it sold new models.

The Soul of Soviet Fashion

The following constitutes the essence of soviet fashion.

The String Bag

According to Vogue US, the useful string bag is more fashionable this season than a high-end purse. The common accessory was once used by fishermen in Japan and France. Every Soviet home had at least one, and since plastic bags were nonexistent, the cherished avoska was essential for grocery shopping. The Vetements string bag currently costs up to $3,465. However, your local organic store undoubtedly has one in stock for about $5. Even the creation of spring bags has been transformed into a social enterprise by the Moscow-based business “Avoska Gives Hope,” which offers employment to people with impairments.

Oversized Tailoring

The previous several seasons have seen oversized fitted suits all over the catwalk at Martine Rose, Calvin Klein, Vetements, and Balenciaga. However, broad-shouldered jackets were extremely popular throughout the Soviet era. Due to the high demand and scarcity of available sizes, they occasionally fit poorly; other times, they were purposefully purchased too large to allow for future growth. Traditional notions of masculinity are also linked to the huge, imposing suit jacket. Irakli Rusadze, a designer from Georgia, delved into this aspect of his Georgian history for his brand Situationist. Fathers and grandfathers would always dress in suits; you can see that in all the old photos. According to him, it was very Georgian.

Flowery Prints

As part of their SS 16 collection, Vetements included robust oil-cloth aprons with flowery prints. Any post-Soviet kid who viewed this would have felt a tinge of nostalgia for these oddly charming workwear-style clothes, even considering the venue, which was more akin to a nightclub. Another runway trend is long, floaty dresses with plenty of flower prints, which strongly resemble Soviet housecoats, a symbol of domesticity that is a must-have. The best illustration of this is a shot taken by Nina Khrusheva during a 1959 visit to the White House.

Complete Crocheting

The history of crochet and knit clothing is extensive; it is both a historic skill and a virtually extinct domestic element. Today, heavy knitted pieces are worn directly over naked flesh in the collections of renowned companies like JW Anderson, LOEWE, Sonia Rykiel, Dolce & Gabbana, Saint Laurent, and Acne Studios, and a crochet evening gown doesn’t seem so out of place. Knitting was the primary DIY skill of Soviet period housewives. Since wool was easier to get than fabric, they knit whole garments for themselves in addition to caps and scarves for their children.

Square-toe Shoes

In the USSR, purchasing shoes wasn’t the most enjoyable activity, especially when it came to buying men’s footwear. Sports shoes and trainers weren’t made until Adidas production began in the USSR in the late 1970s, and even then, they were extremely hard to find. Practical square-toed shoes were primarily produced by the Soviet shoe industry. They have, however, been using the runway quite a bit lately.


For decades, fashion designers, including creative trailblazers like Junya Watanabe and Driev Van Noten, have drawn inspiration from Soviet clothing design because of its practicality, comfort, and longevity. The hottest artists today, such as Craig Green and Kiko Kostadinov, choose tough and durable textiles, and Carhartt is a favourite among the fashion set. Most Soviet citizens have first-hand knowledge of how these clothes can strip you of your identity, a power that is still being explored by fashion theorists and designers alike. The clothing industry made up the majority of the production sector in the Soviet Union.

Updated on: 21-Dec-2022


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