Looking over the recent collections of the biggest designers coming from a post-CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) space—Gosha Rubchinsky, Ф22, ZDDZ and Outlaw—it’s not immediately evident where exactly they get their inspiration from. Even though most of their collections take cues from a multitude of European sources—Rotterdam gabber, rave culture and American hip-hop culture of the late 90s for example—a lot of what these brands offer the Western market is still steeped in modern Russian and eastern European history and street culture; a selection of styles and aesthetics once-unavailable to American journalists and photographer. Unless you’re familiar, it’s sometimes hard to decipher all the cultural references in a single garment.

The story of Soviet fashion overall is difficult to tell specifically because it’s so complicated. It’s a tangled web of early attempts at individual fashion houses and designers (which started out in costume theater and were quickly suppressed), and rock music influences that birthed an entire alternative fashion movement movement. It’s a culture that attempted to emulate what American kids wore, but was limited in funds and availability, creating something new entirely—a kind of ersatz European street fashion.

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All images courtesy of Misha Buster/soviethooligans.ru archive.