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Designer Ksenia Schnaider and her super jeans

Left: model Bella Hadid wearing Ksenia Schnaider demi-denims. Right: Singer Camila Cabello wearing Ksenia Schnaider demi-denims. Photo © @kseniaschnaider

Fashion designer Ksenia Schnaider created her eponymous clothing brand together with her husband, a graphic designer Anton Schnaider in 2011 in Kyev. For spring-summer 2016 collection the designer duo has created jeans made of two parts: culottes and skinny jeans. New model got a name “demi-denims” and in a couple of seasons it turned into a fashion trend: this summer only lazy ones didn’t play around in creating trousers of this style.

Main Ksenia’s main achievement is not even the fact that she managed to invent new jeans silhouette, though it seemed to be impossible, but the fact she can create trendy fashion things using vintage clothing as a material. Her efforts in the field of upcycling were appreciated by the famous Italian fashion journalist Sara Maino: soon Ksenia Schneider will show her collection in the framework of The Next Green Talent project, which Vogue Italy and Yoox have been carrying out for several years.

Ksenia, how did the idea to create demi-denims come to your mind? Why jeans?
– I wear jeans practically every day, that’s why it was quite natural for me to launch a denim line. There was only one problem, I couldn’t find a manufacture ready to sew a small sample edition. Therefore, I decided to buy a few old jeans in second-hand shop, rip them up and create the idea of the silhouette that kept me awake. Pants-skirt, which combines several opposite silhouettes and styles, was that idea wandering in my mind. This was the prototype of demi-denims made of vintage denim, and after only a few months I was able to launch this model in a production scale.

Two-piece jeans or double pants are still popular with fashionistas around the world. The design you created for your fall-winter 2016/2017 collection was repeated by Chanel and Balmain in the new upcoming spring-summer 2019 season. Did you realize or feel then this was going to be a fashion trend?
– Yes, I did. But I also faced the fact that many people did not accept this design and refused to understand it as is often the case with everything new and unusual. And I knew that it would take me time and a lot of hard work with the influencers and media to make this design take its place in fashion. Almost three years have passed, and many are still shocked by these jeans, although they have already been copied by Mango and other brands.

How did the idea of creating this design of pants come to your mind?
– In a dream. Specifically before bedtime, I just thought about something and saw a girl in similar trousers. Maybe even that girl was me, I don’t remember. The main thing is that for almost a month I returned to this picture, represented trousers in different colors and fabrics, considering over the cut. And then finally decided to sew them.

You have launched a collection made of old clothes pieces or a reworked collection long before Demna Gvasalia. How soon do you think upcycling will become a global trend in fashion?
– Our studio is located in Kiev, where there are a lot of markets with second-hand clothing. Therefore, it is natural that we use old clothes as raw materials. This is a complex process with a large team involved. There is one person who is engaged in buying clothes – several times a week he goes to the second-hand shops and sources out the things we need, then there is a girl who is responsible for a thorough washing and drying these clothes, then a whole staff of employees deconstracts the jeans and the staff of cutters who manually tailor each product individually, making a new product from clothing cut outs. We have been working in the upcycling & re-working technique for three years already, we have a unique experience in this process. And we all believe in what we do, and things turn out great. And even the buyers do not immediately see that they are made from vintage materials. But I hesitate to make the flat assertion, whether this will become a global trend in fashion, since it is a very labour intensive process and the final product goes at a cost higher than that sewn in large scale. Much has to change in the industry and in the minds of the people who are building a business in it before it becomes a truly global movement.

What is more difficult: to create clothes from new fabrics or to design from old clothes?
– There is nothing difficult in what you do with love or even with passion. And speaking about the technical side, it takes more time to cut from old clothes, because the fabric is covered with flooring, they can immediately cut the whole batch with a knife from a pile of fabric. That is, a person can produce, for example, one hundred pieces of fabric per day in production. It is possible to cut out not more than three pieces of design from the old clothes a day.

Do you like to wear vintage? How do you style vintage items?
– Let’s be clear here, this period in my personal wardrobe has passed. I used to be fond of clothes from different eras, I loved to wear blazers with golden buttons and huge shoulder pads, cute dresses in a flower print, striped men’s shirts. But now, I temporarily stopped buying them for myself and looking for vintage markets and shops. They are replaced by the re-worked denim and Ksenia Schnaider clothing.

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Photo: Timur Artamonov for Elle-Russia

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