Fashion identity under socialism. Fashion as a creative expression of “conformist” and “oppositional” identity in the condition of the suppressive society in the Soviet Russia during the era of "Perestroika".

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
P1 OPINNÄYTTEET D 2019 Sedakova
Degree programme
Fashion Clothing and Textile Design
This thesis work is my personal exploration of the creative identity in the context of fashion design and suppressive society in Soviet Russia, specifically the “Perestroika” time period from 1985-1991, and the proposition of my unique interpretation of the fashion identity under the suppression existing in the modern fashion industry. The inspiration is based on the two creative individualities - the “phenomenon” of the Russian rock music scene of the 80s - Viktor Tsoi, as an example of an oppositional fashion identity; and my mother, who was in her 20s during the moment right before the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end Communist Ideology, and her personal story in the “Komsomol” summer brigades, and how it affected her identity by the clothes she was obliged to wear. This thesis work is mostly practical, but it includes both theoretical and design practice parts. The theoretical part reviews the literature on the topic of the formation of the fashion identity, and it being dependent on social presumptions and limitations. Followed by the in-depth examination of the Viktor Tsoi’s fashion identity, supported by the analysis of the fashion of the youth subcultures of the 80s in Russia, based on the Joanna Stingray’s photo archive, which showcased Viktor Tsoi’s lifestyle and his cultural environment; and more personal investigation of my mother’s fashion identity, provided with the informative analysis of her photo archive from her experience in the Communist summer Brigades in 1986, and lastly - an overview of the soviet controversial cinematography, more specifically the movie “ASSA”, 1985. In the practice part, based on the researched material, mainly using the ethnographical approach, I describe the design process of the fashion collection development, elaborating deeply from the first sketch ideas, color combinations, silhouettes to the fabric development, details and embellishments. The production part includes a lot of technical and visual experiments with textiles, from the print creation to the development of the patches and other decoration. Textile methods mainly include experimental printing with reactive dyes, weaving and knitting techniques. The design and the development process are strongly and semantically connected with the theory, and acts as an inartificial response to my proposition of the “fashion identity under socialism”. In conclusion, the practical outcome of this thesis work is a menswear fashion collection called “Communication Tube”, which vividly illustrates my personal interpretation of the issue. With this unique fashion and artwork my goal is to motivate the creative individualism and bravery of talented designers, and for them to make, build, sew, draw, cut, interpret and experiment with the strong and meaningful message behind it, whether it’s about sharing your own heritage or if it is a response to the political, societal, cultural issues and debates; and for myself as a designer to establish my voice in this industry to be able to create valuable designs for the better future cause.
Niinimäki, Kirsi
Thesis advisor
Gurova, Olga
Leppisaari, Anna-Mari
fashion, society, identity, clothing, oppostitional, conformist
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