sasha trautvein is an influencer with a difference
How this young model went from the Siberian wilderness to the heart of the global fashion industry.
This article originally appeared in i-D's The Superstar Issue, no. 354, Winter 2018
20-year-old Sasha Trautvein doesn’t call himself a model. “I see myself as more of an influencer,” he says, head lazily rolled back, laid out across a chair in the corner of an east London studio. Tall, skinny, apathetic, the words “wake up” tattooed under his right eye, Sasha exhibits all the qualities you might expect of a young kid riding a new wave of street-style Insta-fame with half a million followers and a line of his own merch. “If it was ten years ago, nobody would give a fuck about me,” he says. “Models were very pretty, very chiselled, they all looked the same. I feel it’s more individual now, beauty has changed.”
Sasha's background isn’t that of your classic “influencer” but the world of fashion – ever fixated with a new disruptor, rule-breaker, game-changer – is completely enamoured with him. Sasha’s childhood wasn’t spent in Calabasas house parties or in proximity to reality TV stars. Instead, born and raised in Siberia, he endured long, harsh winters and the economic impact of the Soviet Union’s collapse on his small town. “We lived in wooden apartments, so when it was -40 degrees you needed to get wood and burn it in a furnace. There were around five factories that everyone worked in. After the USSR broke up and became the Russian Federation, every factory closed. Siberia was so broke. Now it’s a little different – more comfortable, though still bad. My stepfather is a carpenter and my mum works in a furniture store.”
“Fashion week is for posh people.”
Dropping out of school and leaving home at 17, for the past three years Sasha has made St. Petersburg his base. “It’s nice but it still feels dangerous for me, especially in the day time, as there are a lot of crazy men and if they want to fight you, then they just fight you. A lot of guys from the outskirts of the city come to the centre just to cause trouble. They still have this old USSR mentality.”
Not entirely enamoured with the world of fashion, Sasha sees modelling as little more than a means to earn an income. In St. Petersburg, “fashion week is for the posh people” not the kids. With an ambition to become an actor in the future, Sasha’s focus for now is to improve his English, keep scoring model gigs in Europe to pay the bills, and continue breaking hearts on Instagram. “I get sent a lot of marriage proposals.”
Photography Clare Shilland
Styling Rúben Moreira
Grooming Michael Harding at D+V Management using Davines. Styling assistance Hugh Stewart.