For some time we have been talking about the development of “incognitus” and exotic destinations regarding fashion, design and arts and one of our focus are the culturally rich and unexplored Eastern European countries. Apart from all the assumptions the world has about the post sovietic states; the new generation of thinkers and trendsetters are more and more involved on the usage of Russian cultural patterns which definitely hide a lot of history and still exist as an influence or a reflex of a whole unknown creative society.
Even though folk prints are a successful key for so many designers and brands there is much more behind a rich sunset color palette of berry reds, burnt orange and emerald green dresses the worldwide known Slavic beauties wear on the catwalks lately.
It gets even more interesting when we find an active young society of thinkers been represented by what the western world usually knows about Eastern Europe: their beautiful models.
This time CBC interviewed Vita Burak; one of the most active models of the young generation in the unexplored Belarus. We wondered how are the challenges and what moves a girl – who is a well-known and respected model in her country – to make some changes and stand up for a new industry in her territory. When many would be ok in their comfort zones we can call some others as “More than Just Models”.
1. Why did you start been interested on contributing for the fashion industry in a different way than your modeling career?
One day I just wanted to see how it feels to be on the other side of modeling, I mean to organize the process itself. Many models are happy to be on shootings, catwalks and living all the nice moments one gets after the attention is focused on them but I believed there was more to be seen and to learn about organization and specially how I could use it in the benefit of the industry by improving what the other girls and I thought we could do.
2. What are the biggest challenges you see when organizing events in your country?
Well, as every developing country the process of getting people interested in something that for them it is still new like fashion is a big challenge. As soon as you stimulate the public the other parts of the pyramid start to work as well and so we will be able to attract a targeted audience, more investors and also have the attention of the mass media. So far the biggest challenge, in my opinion, relies on having the attention the designers and artists deserve so local and international people can get to know more about the country and the talents in here. We have a rich history so we have great thinkers, especially a young generation like ours!
3. What should be Improving in Belarus – in terms of events organization – in order to bring the local fashion industry to the level of prime markets?
Considering the whole scenario I believe that we could have more support from our government when it comes to our talented designers. The support should be done in its total and not just on events.
We have amazing creative people really wanting to make “fashion” as a movement happen in may different levels. The new generation in the country is working non-stop on ideas and on how could we open up and bring to the audience what we create.
Unfortunately many problems rely on financial issues as well, I know this happens everywhere, but it is bad to see a promising and talented designer/artist without any chance to work due to the lack of funds or any other type of support; that could be one of the main things to change in order to enhance our industry.
4. How do you see the increase and improvement of the Belarusian fashion industry in general? It is on the same level of your neighbors from Russia?
Unfortunately Russia and Belarus are too different in this very sphere! When talking about Eastern Europe Russia had and still has a development and governmental support in every sector of any business that is different from what we have in the neighbor countries and fashion is not an exception. I believe that to reach a prime level we must get together with the Russian market and their events and then calculate further steps. We have the same drive and dedication but some other issues to overcome in order to have the same level as Russia.
5. Do you see the increase of foreign interest on the Eastern European design in general? Are there international designers or brands which would like to showcase for the Belarusian Market?
Yes, I see a change in Eastern Europe in general and also interests in Belarus for many different reasons! Some of them would be that our market is still not packed with all the brands people have access in other countries so in case a brand/designer wants to set up their own shop it is a great place to start! Attention would be definitely given and also the competition wouldn’t be so big like in other countries.
People are still searching for something new, they are not overloaded of stores, trends, shops and advertisements everywhere so there is space for establishing a concept here and creating an identity.
Considering these points (and many others) there are many reasons international designers are welcome here! We are happy to see a different vision on trends and work and our designers are keen start collaborations with international brands with different views!
6. How would you describe the Belarusian fashion, urban culture and street style?
As I’ve been mentioning everything is still new in here and of course young people are interested on anything that brings their identity and ideas to light! I would describe our fashion, urban culture and street style as developing and promising in some points but we have a long way to go!
7. Do you foresee the new generation of fashion and design enthusiasts willing to make a change on what was in the past decade?
As I’m always surrounded by these creative people due to my work as a model sometimes I can really see – and can’t say I am not excited – with what it will come in the future so definitely the past decade is not what one can find here anymore in terms of design (including architecture) and the new ways of thinking are predominant. People are actually very impressed by the Belarusian design in total!
Tourists are attracted by the modern architecture which I can say is not what they expect from a post sovietic country but, unfortunately, we are still associated with many old and traditional practices that definitely built our rich culture and all the knowledge we have in terms of art and literature. Fashion, as a movement, surely is expressing what we would like to be representing and I am happy to be myself a part of many steps of the process! At one moment I am wearing and showing what we can to the audience, in a different moment I am showing our audience what we could have as an inspiration from other countries and in a total different situation I am organizing and managing a way to promote and showcase talented people!
As a model I love travelling and working abroad! I like been inspired by different cultures, values and I keep my mind opened for new ways of thinking and societies that are completely different from mine so the more I know the world and work in different places the more I get inspired and active to continue working more and better in everything else!
By Vanessa Marks – Exclusive to Creative Boys Club .
Vanessa Marks is a Marketing Specialist currently working on the first full East European Research targeting Fashion and Retailing information and opportunities in East Europe. A graduate of Mackenzie University, Brazil with specialization courses at the University of San Diego, USA, Vanessa has worked as a Marketing Coordinator and Market Analyst for several american companies and international projects in Brazil and abroad.