asymmetrical jeans are the latest frontier in denim
The husband and wife team behind Ksenia Schnaider can't agree on whether they're necessary or insane.
Images courtesy of Ksenia Schnaider. Art direction Anton Schnaider.
You may not think you know Ukrainian brand Ksenia Schnaider, but you probably have seen one of their many denim inventions. Back in 2016, the brand had a moment with its Bella Hadid-approved “demi-denims.” Then came “denim fur.” This year, the brand is bringing one of their boldest denim statements yet: asymmetrical jeans.
It’s no secret that the Kiev-based designer Ksenia Schnaider has an obsession with denim. She’s previously told i-D that this is rooted in the Soviet Union’s jean revolution, as jeans had a cult-like status that made them a luxury to wear when she was growing up. She remembers her mother borrowing her father’s only pair of jeans when she was a child.
Combining that with the fascination Anton Schnaider, her husband and business partner, has with making things for “no reason,” and it’s easy to see how the couple bounce ideas off each other until an entirely new denim design is born.
When asked why they started the brand, Anton’s response is, again, “no reason.” “It’s like asking why were you born,” he says. “It just happened. It was sequential. We were both always making clothes.”
It was Ksenia, however, who came up with the idea for asymmetrical jeans, something she believes will become a trend but Anton disagrees with strongly. “It was my old idea to combine our two best-selling models, but Anton said that it is too crazy and no one needs jeans like this,” she explains. “So I abandoned this idea for a couple of seasons. Then a few months ago I realized that at least one person needs this kind of jeans – me.”
Since she first shared the design on the brand’s Instagram at the start of this year, they’ve been “overwhelmed” with interest. Comparing it to the response they had with the demi-denims, she says that “no one is indifferent” to the design and believes they are easier to understand than their demi-denims.
“The news is being spread by the people who are ‘disturbed’ by them,” she says. “But then it gets into the eye of someone who understands fashion well and they are immediately interested, willing to put them on and share them on their social media. People just get them.”
She’s added a pair for herself into the production and urges customers not to think of them as just a “showpiece” because the customers inquiring about them so far are “very average in terms of the unusualness of their wardrobe”.
The design is part of their Pre-Fall 2019 collection, which features more denim designs along with their reworked sportswear. With a history of reworking vintage materials and upcycling, their denim designs are still made from around 30% vintage denim found in Kiev’s massive flea markets.
The couple seems to have a love-hate relationship with living in Ukraine, largely due to an overabundance of advertising and “bad graphic design.” “We complain about Ukraine a lot,” says Anton. “All the kitsch and all the information. There is no taste in urban planning or in advertising. But if we lived elsewhere, say in Europe, I think I’d never design anything again. Everything is too orderly there, there’s nothing to fix.”
They hope their experimental designs can put Ukraine on the map in the fashion world, as part of the wider movement growing the Ukrainian fashion industry. “It’s experimental models like these that’s what’s turning everyone’s heads towards us,” says Anton.
That’s why their only plans for the future is to “have more fun” and “entertain people.” Ksenia explains that this often means stepping back from denim and looking for new challenges, but her obsession ultimately leads her back to the fabric. Until then, enjoy the asymmetrical madness of the pre-fall season.