Katya Borisova: 'Tubeteika is a cult item. One should know when to wear it'
How Sunnis turned Kazan into an unfashionable city
A round-table talk within the framework of the project called Creative Manager Battle took place in Kazan last week. Fashion designer Katya Borisova told about quite curious ties between Sunni Tatars and their toilet. Why is the capital of Tatars unfashionable? Why will citizens of Kazan prefer useful to beautiful clothes? How to git rid of people's folk style? How is Arab expansion going on? What does local couture lack? In an interview with a correspondent of Realnoe Vremya, the designer told about it all.
Get rid of people's folk style
A round-table talk in the framework of the project called Creative Manager Battle took place recently in Kazan. What was the forum about?
There was much information. We told why Kazan was an unfashionable city and how to make it fashionable…
By the way, as for the unfashionable city. People say that citizens of Kazan are beautiful in itself but wear gaudy clothes. Do you agree with this opinion?
I agree that Kazan's growth is prominent. I consider local Russians as Tatars too because it is a common mentality. There are Sunni Muslims. It should be said that Sunnis are the most judicious and pragmatic part of the Muslim world. They will prefer very useful clothes to the most beautiful and luxurious things. Fashion is a form of art that doesn't develop where only healthy food is consumed. You probably know that carrot juice is very beneficial. But sometimes you drink beer and other drinks, that's to say, what you like…
I don't drink beer…
When it comes to clothes, fashion, choice between very beautiful and very useful clothes, the population of our territory chooses the most useful things. In this sense, fashion doesn't develop and put down roots. For example, Germany is not an unfashionable country, it is very rational in this respect. Yes, there is a certain segment that follows fashion. Meanwhile, France, Italy, Japan are fashionable countries. America, its central part, is also a fashionable country. America is very big. Its parts are fashionable. We can say the same thing about Russia: it is a fashionable country when we mean Moscow and Petersburg. But when it comes to regions, it is a country of practical consumption. It is neither good nor bad, it is a market. We can't say the way we live here is disgusting and awful. Other things develop here better. You probably witness a situation: there is a huge luxurious house for millions of rubles, but the common road leading to the house is bad. A person who has a bad suit and bad shoes gets off a very expensive car because he or she doesn't think it is necessary to invest in other things. His defining points of success are demonstrated well and clearly. Everybody knows that this person is wealthy.
France, Italy, Japan are fashionable countries. America, its central part is also a fashionable country. America is very big. Its parts are fashionable. We can say the same thing about Russia: it is a fashionable country when we mean Moscow and Petersburg. Photo: wmagazine.com
Katya, there is an opinion that Tatars don't have taste because the folk culture excels. Do you agree with it?
Of course. There is an opinion that you can take the girl out of the village but you can't take the village out of the girl. Connection with some remote sources is very strong on this territory. Urban visual experience, experience in living in a big city is quite small and low. Visual experience in the countryside dominates. When people visit the village on leave, to birthday, they want to correspond to the impressions of the people from the same village, satisfy their relatives' eye. Partially, it is true. The state participates in the propaganda of the folk culture. I don't mean only the Tatar culture. Look at different dance groups: what clothes do they wear? Folk costumes.
So, is our national pop culture the main propagandist of the folk culture?
Yes, it is. Who will come here? Mamadysh District, Muslyumovo or another district – they like it. And a person standing on the stage wears clothes that these people like.
In general, our many heads were born in the countryside…
Unlike us, the executives have seen a lot, it is very good visual experience. They travel much and see more. They all understand it well. In this respect, it is incredibly difficult to fight against such concepts as nation and national spirit. Will you supervise yourself or will you charge the Ministry of Culture with controlling all these singers, so that they won't wear such awful tyubeteikas but decent ones? It should be said that tyubeteika is a cult item. One should know when to wear it. It should have a corresponding quality. One should sew these costumes for child national dance groups beautifully and well. Our all culture is delivered via folk motifs as if there were not other motifs. To tell the truth, I would dream about a censure. A normal committee is needed. It would not allow to treat the folk heritage so badly because I am an ethnic Russian girl. I don't have national roots but I like this culture. I grew up in this city. It is very beautiful. As a designer, I see how it can inspire, what a beauty it can become. What can I say when all this horror and terror on souvenir shelves is distributed and transmitted?
It should be said that tyubeteika is a cult item. One should know when to wear it. It should have a corresponding quality. One should sew these costumes for child national dance groups beautifully and well. Our all culture is delivered via folk motifs as if there were not other motifs. Photo: Roman Khasaev
Do you have to take into account the regional factor while designing clothes?
No, Timur. I don't have to take any regional factor into consideration. Thank God, I am a free person. I do what I want. If I have clients who order such a song, I will always find an opportunity to express my thought. And clients who express such desires are prepared somehow: they saw my works, they read about this topic. We don't make the dullness and horror you see in the national fashion world.
Erraid rules the world
Is it true that the religion had an impact on everyday clothes of Tatars?
You understand that Arabisation is under way in this respect, though we are speaking about Great Bolgar, and we are restoring it by all means. But other forces, other structures and interested people are lobbying a completely different direction of Islam. This Arabisation of Islam is in process. You understand well that there are certain political technologies and strategies: to make people's eyes get used to something. When people get used seeing something, they quickly accept other things. When we are told about tolerance, multiculturalism, we don't oppose this point of view much because it is not our culture. I would say it is a completely different culture.
You are talking about Arabisation. As far as I am concerned, our Muslim women prefer Turkish hijab to its Arab version.
Wait, who rules the Muslim world on the planet?
I would like to say the Washington cartel. But Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran do it.
Saudis really rule the world. They impose their opinion on very Turkey. As the market of the Turkish mass clothing manufacture is loyal and cheap, it offers us — their best neighbours — clothes of Islamic origin, these clothes.
The European community will rebel against black clothes, real interpretation of the style existing in Saudi Arabia, of course. It's fine. There is a Russian saying: 'Grain by grain and the hen fills her belly'. We don't know how this market will look like in 50 years. Photo: Maksim Sokolov
To my knowledge, Arab women in Saudi Arabia prefer black clothes in comparison with Turkish Muslims in bright hijabs.
It is called a regional association because nobody will permit black clothes. The European community will rebel against black clothes, real interpretation of the style existing in Saudi Arabia, of course. It's fine. There is a Russian saying: 'Grain by grain and the hen fills her belly'. We don't know how this market will look like in 50 years. As a fashion designer who follows all social changes in the society very carefully, I have a bad forecast.
Do you mean that more than a half of Europeans will become Muslim in tens of years?
Yes, Russian won't be able to escape from this tendency. If we say we are Tatars so actively, we should start with our national culture before it is too late. We should not quarrel with our neighbours, build a wall but actively impose out culture, including this Islamic clothing tradition.
Cosmos to your head
Can an ordinary designer from Kazan easily appear in the largest fashion festivals in Paris or Milan?
Sure, easily. It always depends on money. You need to be very interested, then talented. You need to offer a rare good or a product that doesn't exist in the market. But it needs to be very interesting. You need to have a preference. It will be enough to say that only we have traditions of the national Tatar costume. They are absent in Paris, in Milan. We have them. And they are very beautiful. This needs to be shown, not copied Chanel dresses that have billions of copies around the world that are not interesting any more. It is not a designer's gimmick that one can use to enter the market and become interesting for somebody. Of course, money is a great tool to achieve a goal, especially in the fashion world when you can't be a talented designer on your own. You need to have a production, team with a corresponding level and possibilities for advertising, PR… Gimmick is the most important thing you need to have.
Are there any Kazan brands that became popular in our country?
I don't know. I can't say that I became popular in our country. I have clients around the world – America, Paris, Moscow, Yekaterinburg, Krasnodar…
You need to offer a rare good or a product that doesn't exist in the market. But it needs to be very interesting. You need to have a preference. It will be enough to say that only we have traditions of the national Tatar costume. They are absent in Paris, in Milan. We have them. And they are very beautiful. Photo: Roman Khasaev
It is not a mass market.
Right. When we speak about worldwide popularity, we don't mean private clients but the world economic expansion.
What do our Tatarstan designers lack to achieve great success?
What does it mean?
The cosmos to the head, opportunities. Designer is a vessel that always needs to get something, it needs an inspiration. Different things can inspire: colourful windows of different colours in houses, people you meet on your way. Everything must be unusual, it must be something very bright. And every fashion house, every designer works by taking money from the bedside table regardless of its source. They work on investments. There are investors who invest money шт promotion, support and development of a name. It is a very big and well organised economic vehicle that pushes the name. Then the name makes money and hands it out to the investors. This is why our designers lack the cosmos in the heads for inspiration, freedom of the local market as a major encourager. You need to dream about great things. And they also lack good investors.
Can we say that tailoring business in Tatarstan is on the verge of extinction?
No. I am not on the verge of extinction. I think all the people who work much and well live well and probably a bit worse than they used to. It is clear that the crisis affected bigger 'monsters' than me or my colleagues in the republic. As for survival, the situation is different. Now all the housekeepers rushed to become designers. All the women who used to sit at home, asked their husbands for money, took out loans. Look, ateliers are opening everywhere. If it were unprofitable, it would not exist. It means that the market is alive, there is a demand. Then everybody has different plans: somebody wants to conquer the world, and local scale is enough for some people.
Katya, could you tell me do our Kazan designers find it difficult to compete with Chinese and Vietnamese 'couture'?
Impossible. Whatever people say like China has become expensive, it's better to sew in Russia, don't believe. In China, nobody sews 100 items. It is profitable to sew 100 items in Russia. Luxury, premium items can have 100 items for a brand. They sell a great brand for huge money. And China sews a billion of goods for 5 dollars and covers the whole world. It is impossible to compete with China. This is why don't care about it. It is my opinion. I studied this question seriously. It is not a lay opinion that was heard somewhere.