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27 Jan 2014

Behind the catwalks

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Despite all odds fashion is booming in Belarus and other Eastern European countries. Now for the first time The Minsk Herald opens its space to put Eastern Europe on the spotlight of the fashion industry’s most promising hubs when it comes to creativity, business opportunities and a vast option of happenings regarding fashion and style.

Eastern European fashion industry

Eastern Europe and its cultural diversity undoubtedly gather a plurality of ideas, languages and practices but yet it is bonded by uniformity in terms of religion and ethnic roots. The artistic expression flourish the entire region; a direct result of a repressive regime in which imagination is always enhanced by the desire of freedom.

With the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 and the consequent developments of the 90’s era, the political, cultural aspects and the Sovietic-Style business model changed drastically; slowly opening the Baltic Market into a westernized type of consumption and needs. The business code follows a high standard presentation including suit and tie, high heels and dresses along with trendy and expensive gadgets such as watches and latest electronics. With a large number of pricey restaurants the best places for a meeting or a deal are still the lounge of international hotels. We also see a change of the women in the society which, nowadays, represent political and business figures in the highest positions. However what positively affected East Europe’s fashion industry was the privatization process and appraisal of individuality.

Indeed East European designers are becoming more and more trend setters in a territory where until now western companies were just present to assemble their brands.The cost of living in the Baltic region is still low in comparison to other supplying areas (including China) which makes many of the retailing business migrate to East Europe; this movement indicates the territory’s potential of becoming a hot spot for the fashion industry due to the investments injected in infrastructure and new jobs mainly in Poland, Hungary, Latvia and Russia.

A great example comes from the promising Poland; Alicja Czarnecka is a local east european talent who grew to become global thru her line called Dressi combining casual style with elegance and comfort. Czarnecka and many other giants’ protégės such as Joanna Przetakiewicz carefully and closely working under Karl Lagerfeld’s tutelage; are also using the advantages of emerging high rollers in the global economy like Russia, Poland and Czech Republic. Pointing a huge growth potential without saturation and making usage of a real strong open-minded location brands as the polish fashion leader LPP, the creator of Sinsay, which according to its official press release declared, in 2012, their 4th quarter income of $231.9 mln against $190.2mln in 2011 resulting on the opening of 30 new shops of their new label Sinsay located in shopping centers in cities such as Warsaw, Wrocław, Łódź and Poznań. Like many others in the region, the company has focused its efforts on Eastern Europe, mainly Russia.

“In Russia the company has opened 100 shops so far and we plan to open a lot more” LPP deputy chief executive Dariusz Pachla told Reuters.

LPP, the creator of the brand Reserved, designs and distributes its clothing lines to all East and Central European countries. The company has grown rapidly and in some markets even competing face-to-face with giants like Spain’s Inditex, the world’s top fashion retailer and parent of Zara.

New designers are also getting recognition in the western countries due to the development of the fashion industry in the Eastern Europe. The increasing number of showcases and events promoting upcoming and established designers in the East brought not just many names from abroad to the Russian speaking area but also east Europeans to the west. An example this exchange is the promising Belarusian star-designer LEORGOFMAN who came to Sweden for an exclusive runway show and had his collection “Rock Opera” photographed by Jade Hannah, a New York-Swedish based fashion photographer known by giving a high-end identity to upcoming and traditional brands. The shooting including the Swedish model Stina Almer (VR Management – Milano) took place at the glamorous Nobis Hotel in Stockholm (Sweden). Just take a look at those pictures below.

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On a brief analysis it is possible to say that the East European fashion industry possesses all the ingredients for success. A wealth historical and cultural mix, a fresh and new open minded market and a concentration of talented professional and an emerging economy.

The Baltic area future is promising, supported on strong pillars and walking to the right direction to a successful turn over when it comes to a global economy representation and a forthcoming established land for investment speculations.

Vanessa Marks is a Marketing Strategist currently working on the first full East European Research targeting Fashion and Retailing information and opportunities in East Europe. A graduate of Mackenzie University, Brazil with specialization courses at the University of San Diego, USA, Vanessa has worked as a Marketing Coordinator and Market Analyst for several american companies and international projects in Brazil and abroad.


  1. Thank you The Minsk Herald! It is a pleasure to cooperate with you!

    1. Thank you, Vanessa. It's a great text, really.
      For our readers. If you want to know more about fashion industry in Belarus and in eastern Europe in general, please, let us know.

  2. Congratulations! Amazing publication.