RGDC TALKS WITH KSENIA SCHNAIDER, CEO AND DESIGNER OF KSENIA SCHNAIDER
Founded in 2011 by Ukrainian design duo Ksenia and Anton Schnaider, Ksenia Schnaider is a brand you would most likely recognise. The brand has risen to popularity for its unique, eclectic, distinctive denim designs that embody the cool streetwear style of Eastern Europe. And while it may be some of the popular designs including ‘demi-denims’ (a pant/short) and the asymmetrical jeans that have brought significant attention to the label, the brands focus on sustainability within their denim line is a part of the brand that is equally as impressive.
Proving that fashion can be stylish and sustainable, the brand use mostly upcycled denim, second-hand denim from local flea markets that is reused in their denim designs. The success of these denim pieces led the designers to explore other second-hand materials, and this year Ksenia Schnaider released tracksuit style pieces made from vintage parachute tracksuit materials.
We spoke to Founder, CEO and Designer Ksenia Schnaider about sustainability in fashion, the ups and downs of business and what’s next for the label.
Describe your role in the business and Anton’s role at Ksenia Schnaider.
I am the CEO and Designer of the brand, Anton is the Art Director and Designer, but we spend so much time together working on the brand that the majority of the decisions go through both of us interchangeably.
What has been your most memorable moment/career highlight?
So far, it has to be the initial buy from large retailers. When we rolled out the demi-denims, we had buyer from Selfridges and Rare Market order them and a few other items from that collection. We experienced a huge push at the time which gave us a strong feeling that the best is still ahead of us!
Where do you draw inspiration from for each new collection?
We are constantly in a state of a search. We look for what is “right now” and when the time comes to start thinking about the next collection we bring together whatever inspires us the most at that moment and start playing around with it.
We are constantly inspired by the city we live in, by our friends and their amazing projects, by the internet…
Describe the Ksenia Schnaider woman?
The Ksenia Schnaider woman is busy and does it gracefully. She is always in style and it’s always effortless. She needs clothes which enhance that lifestyle. Something cool, but smart, elegant, but cutting-edge.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in business?
It has to be to not compromise the quality of the item. Very early on in our journey, we were reassured that even when it comes to deadlines, pricing or personal space, it is still crucial that you don’t jeopardise on the quality of an item.
What have been some of the challenges creating sustainable clothing?
The main challenge is sustainability is not mainstream yet, which means such products don’t compete in price with less sustainable options. This is heavy on expenses and needs more focus from us when it comes to planning budgets. Also there is limited choice in materials and textiles. Even if money is not an issue, the technology and work to produce organic fabrics is lightyears behind what the rest of the industry is doing in terms of texture and durability.
What is next for Ksenia Schnaider?
We are currently expanding all of our lines. Our recent collection featured a lot more materials, while still embracing our long-term affair with denim. We added dresses, ruffled tops and explored a lighter colour palette. And there is more to come. Simultaneously, we have been developing a collection for men. It launched in June and it’s not long before it will hit the stores, which is also a really exciting experience for us and our customers.