CODERED is a Russian streetwear brand that had become iconic in the mid 2000’s. They are what is really clicking in the street. If you really ask people from the various subculture clasters – top brand will be obvious to name. Made with cutting-edge locally hyped up ideas and made by Russian manufactures only.
Special bags for spraycans, reflective bombers, membrane fabrics, garments made of soft shell, cutting-edge pattern solutions, tight prints on basic items – this isn’t the full list of the brand’s merits on the local Russian streetwear market. CODERED also actively supports creative youth, graffiti community and various subculture members, from progressive electronic musicians at the beginning of their career to rappers with a wide range of followers.
At present, the brand is concentrating on developing in several directions: CODERED – the classic selection of street casual and basic clothing, which is regularly available, pinpoint releases through collaboration with various celebrities, hyped up associations and brands. Retro line named CodeRed Sport, in which the brand uses and develops the aesthetic heritage of the late 80’s and the 90’s sportswear. And the progressively oriented COR line, which includes items showing an experimental approach to design and technological solutions, as well as solutions somewhere near technological with a bunch of original ideas and concepts implanted in the garments. All of these are present in the online store, as well as in two of the brand’s own shops located in Moscow and St. Petersburg, plus over 50 shops belonging to the brand’s distributors in Russia.

Alexander Selivanov, one of the founders and the chief designer of the brand, told us what he understands by the term “techwear”, spoke about the future of CODERED and what Russian style really is.

Alexander Selivanov
Alexander Selivanov, one of the founders and the chief designer of the brand / photocredit CODERED
Why do you use the term “neartechwear”?

I’m using this term because not all of the clothes from our COR line could be called super technological. The way I see it, proper techwear is stuff like Arcteryx makes. Their level is very serious. And “neartechwear” is much simpler and can already become very popular.

In Russia GrungeJohnOrchestra stand out, but they’re more of a fashion brand than techwear. Those guys are brilliant; they make real quality things from good Japanese materials and care a lot about top level accessories and garment dyeing and so on. Then, for example, brands like Krakatau are exactly “neartechwear”. I like them, but they’re made-in-China. A brand that makes “neartechwear” at a good level on the territory of the ex-USSR would be Riot Division.

CODERED COR
CODERED COR

I worked with Chinese manufactories for many years when I was launching a very serious brand together with Bask (one of the oldest Russian outdoor clothing companies) – LMA snowboarding clothing – back in 2001 till 2006. That was absolutely up to the time proper techwear. At least at that time and at that level of development. We used technologies, materials and original ideas, which were new then, and exceptionally, hot silhouettes based on a fully classic extreme sports look. You should understand the thing I am talking, cause it was so massive during early 2000’s.

If you were to try to make something similar and contemporary, aiming at that level for now, it would be really difficult, but quite possible. On the other hand, the price tag on such things would be fairly high. Because a lot things are changed from that time regarding price range, but not so much regarding factories skills unfortunately.

You’re concentrating on your own line of “neartechwear” right now, isn’t that right?

Yes, just at the beginning of August 2016 we presented the COR line at the largest local yearly street culture event, Faces&Laces. You can already check COR line in our Moscow and St. Petersburg CODERED Stores. And also selectively presented in the shops of our top distributors in Russia. So now we have three main lines – CODERED classic casual basic clothes, 90’s-style CodeRed Sport and COR, which is “neartechwear” aspiring to gradually become real techwear.

CODERED store in Moscow
CODERED store in Moscow
Is there any contact with Europe?

Because of the currency exchange rates we (local streetwear) are now formally becoming very interesting to them. But I don’t want to come out massively into the international market just yet. We’ve not got enough hype at the moment for Europe and rest of the world. In fact, we’ve got none at all where Europe is concerned. We make truly iconic things for the Russian market, but over there, in Europe, they’re unlikely to be in demand at this volume. Then again, in my understanding, to market for Europe one needs to do some serious work on aesthetics and to perfect all the fittings and other small details. Only after that we will be able to offer a lot to Europe and others. I believe we’ve got all the chances for a graceful debut. Back in the early 2000’s we’d made a buzz in the rest of the globe with our LMA innovations.

And in the future?

As I said, as soon as we make our techwear super interesting, we’ll think about it. And as far as the 90’s go, they’ll fly off the shelves. There’s no other way it can be. This hype been going on for about five years, and there’s tons of prospects in working with this material.

“And regarding techwear, I’m sure that there are no boundaries or limits at all here. It is very interesting to me personally, as this direction allows me to think and look for design solutions with absolute freedom in decisions, in any way necessary”

It’s always been in demand, it’s always on top. I don’t see any obstacles that could change that. And regarding techwear, I’m sure that there are no boundaries or limits at all here. It is very interesting to me personally, as this direction allows me to think and look for design solutions with absolute freedom in decisions, in any way necessary. Whether it’s stark techno like Arcteryx or a couple hundred other outdoor mammoths, or experimentalists and innovators like Stone Island, Acronym, Maharishi, Nike and an uncharted list of local Japanese brands, which have been making innovational stuff for 15 years for now under their own various brands or for a particular line or as outsource design agencies.

What do you think of Rubchinskiy?

About seven years ago, looking at his collections, I really wasn’t digging them. I spat and criticized his designs. It turned out he was several years ahead, walking with wide paces. Back then, at the dawn of local Russian streetwear, his styles didn’t look at all relevant. And now those solutions (from seven years ago), could very easily become popular.

“In general the rest of the world does not know our “real street”. They never even walked across it. The Internet is their “street”

I’m not talking about the style he’s representing today. Today’s selection is obviously more for show than full of innovations. There’s nothing clever in his things now. They’re regular skate stuff of premium quality hyped up to the max and well seasoned with an aura of clueless fashion. For example, his prints are just the classic approach of skate brands from the dawn of time. We’ve done things like that also. Everyone’s always done things like that. Nonetheless, I would be very interested and awed to see how such things from just one brand explode and reach the skies pumped up by all the hype in a slightly different audience. And I am certainly very glad that it turned out so well for Gosha. And I’m twice as glad that it’s coming from Russia. Because the obvious wave of interest for local stuff is being felt and such personas allow attracting a lot of attention to what’s going on with us.

CODERED
CODERED

In general the rest of the world does not know our “real street”. They never even walked across it. The Internet is their “street”. If someone puts on a tee shirt with a logo like Gosha, or Sputnik 1985, or some other reflexive thing with a word in Cyrillic – it won’t make them “get” Russian stuff, unfortunately. To do that you need to come here, be a tourist among the aboriginals in on it. Only then can you get a taste of the Russian tricolor. There’s too much information these days, and so, regrettably, most of it is superficial to the core, or is seriously influenced by what is stirred up by the western trends, or is reflected through the prism of the western media, which filter or flat-out censor information. So it’s hard for Russian brands to get through to the West right now. But I think this can change soon, with the help of projects like yours among other things. And the dawn will come.

And what’s going on with the quality of Russian brands?

Majority of the brands does not know what to do and how to do it at all. And it’s hard to perfect oneself, plus there’s the nuances in manufacture and available materials. To tell you the truth, it’s very hard work and we’re all still at the very beginning of the road with a predominance of amateurism. On top of that, people like to complain, don’t want to understand their mistakes and don’t try to fix them, which is not particularly productive, to put it mildly, in terms of developing one’s enterprise and professional growth.

“Having little choice, all you’re left with is the option of making a masterpiece out of bullshit”

And this applies to everything. It’s a pity, but this happens very often. And because most local streetwear brands don’t work by classic production cycles, as the volumes of product batches are not large, and there is no possibility to freeze substantial sums into the manufacture of custom materials, fittings and other parts, we often end up with the phenomena of “one brand for all”. That’s when stock fabrics are sold by one company and a series of brands operating on the same target market all come to it. It’s funny sometimes. And other times it raises anger and insult in a mild form, causing a wish to smash some particularly lively colleagues’ faces right in. But even in this there is a certain unique raw style to the development of our streetwear: having little choice, all you’re left with is the option of making a masterpiece out of bullshit.

On the whole, I hold Ukrainian brands in great regard. Like Riot Division, for instance. I really respect him, and he’s very interesting to observe. Many of the guys in Kiev have a very unique take on things. Among Russians it’d be Gosha Orekhov, who started making clothes and backpacks before I even got started on the LMA. Goshas generally do really well in Russia (laughing). Gosha Konyshev is an awesome skater, for example.

CODERED COR
CODERED COR

Very often it’s necessary to act very quickly, having a clear picture of what you can do with the available materials, buying them now, not later. It turns into an exciting freestyle feat at times. But, personally, I really like it. This spontaneity shows your bare skills in acting sharply in a situation and in making decisions within a minimal timeframe. This is also why it’s very difficult, or to be precise, actually impossible to f*ck over the Russians. We’ve been up to our ears right in it for the past half-century, and have got the hang of cutting out the bullshit to the point where it’s in our blood. And I think on this backdrop we’ll soon see that all the screwing over will be happening the other way round all over the place. It’s already begun. There’s no way back. The Russian cock is towering threateningly over the globe. Don’t get the idea that I’m a nationalist, but I’m a fanatic of our local stuff. I’m stretching the term “local” here. I don’t exclude the different ex-republics and the rest. It’s all one to me. So the cock slams right into the mouths of any roundabout-nazi quacks who’re gonna talk divisive shit under this interview. Shut up and get some work done. Time is very valuable now.

What’s happening with your retro line, CodeRed Sport?

Those are jogger sports trousers with a very obvious influence from the styles of the late 80’s – early 90’s. The sportswear of my childhood, the coup, and everything thereabouts. Pink ones, black ones, purple ones, green ones, and the ones with dorky and completely funky combinations of colours, which is exactly what makes them magnificent. By the winter we plan to release warm tracksuits and anoraks with a terribly dorky cut and cheesy colors. This is sweet. This will be “in” in a flash and this will spread and grow. By the way, in this line we’d done a collab with the promo group Bolshe Chem Lyubov (より多くの愛), who are organizers of infamous Skotoboynya and Witchout series of parties. By all means, this is just the beginning. There will be many interesting solutions in this line.

And what about collaborations?

We want to raise our level. Right now we’re making history with Versus, the hottest and most popular Rap Battles project on the internet. We’re planning out joint projects with top celebrity rap performers, whose names we are not ready to call yet for a number of reasons to do with etiquette and the commercial secret. Lately, we’ve been trying to focus and analyze our actions often – not to waste our energy in vain. Nonetheless, we’ve already got a wide enough audience and we need to make the right collaboration decisions. They need to be fitting and mutually effective; we should not waste time on the shaky ones.

Did your client change?

In the COR line we orient ourselves toward a more adult audience with a wide view on style and an open mind. The main line is for young people and just regular folks who choose casual clothes that are decent in price and quality. CodeRed Sport is reflexive modern fashion for all the retro wave and all that near, and with the uber fashion-mongers in mind as well. Everything often gets intertwined with everything else, because information spreads very quickly. But, on the whole, we don’t give a f*ck about any serious monitoring and et cetera. For now, it’s more about a hunch and a feeling of what’ll soon explode. In general, the idea is that, for example, the Acronym jacket and CodeRed Sport trousers –they’re absolutely normal now and can look fresh and bold and no one’s going to call them “kinky”. The word “kinky” has disappeared, it just doesn’t exist anymore. Everything needs to be mixed up. That’s the zeitgeist and we’re in it.

I’m looking at your reflective cap.
CODERED reflective bomber
CODERED reflective bomber

It’s a sample. The reflective version is still at drawing board level. I’d not yet seen anyone make these. Classic baseball caps worn by basketball players – yes, six-piece caps – no. We’re the first. Generally, we try to come out with innovative to the street stuff as often as possible. So, for instance, when Faces&Laces was celebrating their 8 years, I offered that they use the idea of “the big eight” and have eight top local street brands make one original item each.

By the way, we made the reflective bomber first. That was a couple of years ago. Even AlphaIndustries, who literally fathered the bombers, were a bit late on this color scheme. They only issued a model like that a year and a half ago.

 

How do you choose your fabrics?

We are a Russian street brand that at present is working with very fast cycles of production in most of their releases. A bit earlier I had partially described the “think hard, work hard – right now!” work style and algorithm. I’ll repeat, in my understanding it’s like a game, just luck. This is what happens: I see a fabric and immediately understand what it would be good for. And just from that I can think up a thing and let this seed grow further.

These days we’ve started to think ahead more and stretch out the cycles. This is necessary, as we aim to make things really sexy and neat on all levels: custom fabrics dyed in original ways, custom made fittings, painstakingly picked and tested complementing and proven curves – all of it. This development has to happen. There is no other way.

I know very well how big brands work, I’ve been there before: I’d created from scratch and raised up an iconic snowboarding brand, LMA. It existed between 2001 and 2006. It was the most talked about subculture outerwear brand for snowboarders at the time. It sold very well all over Russia and abroad. I worked out and adjusted the algorithms for work from scratch, not knowing anything, right from “let’s do this” to the goods in hand. And I don’t mean samples, I mean the whole batch and the promotion. It’s cool and I really like to get it all out into the market. The most interesting part for me is the road from the idea, doodled in a notebook with nervous lines, till the nice product in hands, which satisfied people who actually wear it.

How does the envisioned thing change in the process of its creation?

I never agreed to stray from the original idea early on and stood my ground in this relentlessly. In the past year or two I’d become more flexible. But now I’m returning to certain “production fascism”. Accuracy is very important in such things. Most of the stuff we have made has become iconic. The first spray cans bags, then waist bags, sports trousers and joggers, hoodies with masks, bombers… Now everyone’s got them. We release our product at the right time or years before. Waist bags are very popular for now as example. We were the first among local streetwear brands to make prints in Cyrillic but with minimalistic design approach four years back.

CODERED waist bags
CODERED waist bags

Stash (oldschool graffiti writer) took our tee shirt on Faces&Laces, shouting “F*ck! I need this to wear in New York!” We try not to make trivial bullshit, although these days we sometimes have some not-always-popular releases due to the increase in sales volume. We try our best to always come out sharp with only the top stuff smashing the streets. All of our main releases over 10 years were destined to be iconic, they became the classics of our brand and the classics of local street brands on the whole; they were often copied and subjected to reflexion.

“We try our best to always come out sharp with only the top stuff smashing the streets”

The anorak, for example, that we had made four years ago and shown on Faces&Laces. Afterwards, many had got hooked on our ideas and went down the same path. There is a bunch of other items that we were responsible to make as a pioneers for local streetwear market.

What can you tell us about taking part in Faces&Laces?

Faces&Laces are brilliant and we’re very grateful to those guys for everything. They’re sharp and are practically family to us. Even though they promote distinctive local street brands in Russia that are already successful, I believe their chosen path of growth is right. I would add more of very little underground subculture brands from the whole of the ex-USSR.

Although I reject the term “underground”, on the whole for now. People are clamoring about things they don’t know and have never seen and will never see. Because now we have the internet, and it covers and taints all the underground stuff right after anything brand sparkling new appears. That’s why the paradigm of the unobtainable and of avoiding the net is what everyone’s getting into now. But it’s rather frail. There’s too much information today. It’s not too difficult to find, and even the completely restricted is easily located by search engines. So live activities come into play. Although the forecast for that is in fact rather unpleasant. For it is obvious that, in about 20 years, the line between offline and online is just not going to be tangible.

CODERED COR
CODERED COR

But now we have brands that use unobtainability – they’re either developing quite actively at their level or living on non-classic sales schemes with a chain of dealers or distributors. They make great stuff selling everything through their shops and online stores and not getting involved with those elements of the chain that I’d mentioned. As a result, the price is not high, and the stuff is of quite another, superior level in comparison to similar things from large brands. People see this, but they have now clue why it is so. A good example of a brand like this is Outlier from New York. They promote a very discreet style, but on the backdrop of the increased manufacturability of a cool production. Their own distribution, their own shop. In our parts, many hipsters brands act the same way, and so do various fair regulars and lone handmade artists and the like. This is an awesome option that allows to make great things at a confusingly low price and to attract folk by exactly the most important thing: a cool product at a low price, which eliminates all competition, even the close one. And if the manufacture’s their own on top of that, they could do anything. But at a certain point a person reaches his ceiling and doesn’t know what to do next. I think this is what happened to Supreme. It was impossible to buy them anywhere before and now they’re everywhere and it’s not a “can’t ever f*cking get your hands on it” situation. But they’re definitely going to have this impression trailing them, and they do – everything vanishes in seconds from their official Internet shop.

Can you give us a forecast of the brand’s future?

The forecast is simple. We need to work more effectively. I talk a lot, but I do a lot, too. Our whole team, including myself, is busy with very serious work at the moment.

“I see no competition in Russia … in the sense that I prefer to think all brands are a part of one big thing”

There’s just one thing I can say – in the next half year-year we shall put in maximum effort to show you stuff at a whole new level or to get on course toward it. It’ll be interesting. Right now I really like the raw approach to streetwear. It’s in. But it’s time to move on. This is much harder by far, but we’ll overcome, like Yuri Gagarin. To expand outside Russia, we’ll need to do something no one has done before. And my colleagues and I have lots of ideas. I see no competition in Russia. Not in the sense that we’re terribly awesome, but in the sense that I prefer to think all brands are a part of one big thing, and if we develop it together, we will reach a very-very serious and interesting level, and then our national style will be globally admired.


CODERED COR

CODERED online store

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