Bringing the best of St. Petersburg to Amsterdam, KRAKATAU has just opened its first Dutch pop-up shop. And that’s good news for the Russian brand and streetwear fanatics alike, as the new store symbolizes the label’s expedition into European waters. Made for modern-day survival, KRAKATAU’s ‘antagonist’ and ‘explosive’ state of mind can be felt in both the functional and aesthetical qualities of its street-ready products. Glamcult got to know LX, the label’s passionate founder as well as the creative mind behind the winter-ready, tech-heavy jackets.
Let’s start with a little introduction. Who is LX and what does your mysterious acronym stand for?
In my name there is, of course, nothing mysterious. LX is just a shortened spelling of the name Alex—sounds the same, just shorter in writing. Since I currently live in China, the fewer letters to spell, the easier and faster to communicate. But there is another point in this; we at KRAKATAU prefer not to focus on the people creating the brand, trying to get away from personalities and giving preference to the final product. This is the eternal opposition of pop culture revolving around personality and total, pure art. So, to your question, I can answer this way: KRAKATAU is a Russian streetwear brand from St. Petersburg.
When one googles ‘KRAKATAU’, they’ll find a big volcano outburst as well as big jackets. (How) are they related?
The original idea was to give the name of the largest volcano ever erupted to the smallest brand. Well, and besides, the whole background of this name—fire and destruction, uncontrollable energy, weather protection, gloomy dark tones, and even the sound of this word… somehow everything came together in this word.
KRAKATAU stands for “antagonist survival”. Could you elaborate on this?
Initially, it was the name of an album of a Canadian musician, SIXTOO from the Ninja Tunes label. But since the weather in St. Petersburg is such that most of the year one can only say that it’s about survival, this name came in handy. As for the antagonist, then, of course, we—starting our brand from scratch, doing everything with our own hands, being in many ways pioneers, along with our colleagues and like-minded people, and, in fact, participating in the development of the streetwear market in Russia—always opposed ourselves and the establishment, and the entire Russian light industry. Young people needed new heroes and new clothes. So this slogan speaks of both the functionality of our clothing and the polarization of our society.
Your newly opened shop brings together St. Petersburg and Amsterdam. What are your favorite aspects of each city? And how do they mix?
As you know, one crazy Russian was once so impressed with Amsterdam that he returned home and built the most beautiful city in his country: St. Petersburg. And when I saw Amsterdam for the first time, I was shocked by how different these two cities are! If Amsterdam is a city that has survived three disasters, then St. Petersburg is a city that has survived three revolutions. If Amsterdam is a symbol of freedom, St. Petersburg is a symbol of spleen. Amsterdam is a cozy city, St. Petersburg is dreary. But, both of them, with very powerful energy! The Dutch ask me if I like Amsterdam, and I still cannot give a final answer. I’m still trying to feel this city. What I know for sure is that these two cities have played great importance in my life, and this is the strangest event for me.
In the past years, techwear has become more and more important part of street style. What do you think of this trend?
Techwear, as a trend, is interesting because it is a reflection of, on the one hand, the changed behavior of the citizen, on the other, the developing technologies and production standards. And it seems to me that people doing techwear have this feeling like when you just go out in the morning to drink a cup of coffee, and internally you are ready for any apocalypse that can happen today. Of course, for KRAKATAU techwear is our native element, although we do not stand for purity of style. What I personally like about fashion is that what has recently appeared to be a reflection of a lack of taste—which is being revised by designers, processed and becomes relevant.
Do you believe in a perfect formula for the ultimate jacket?
As for me, the ultimate jacket doesn’t exist and doesn’t matter. For me, for all the years that I have been doing clothes, the main motto was: KRAKATAU participates in evolution. So here, in my opinion, the process is more important than the result. All designers and developers participate in the creation of some unattainable ultimate jacket, adding some elements and materials, and thus opening up new opportunities for experiments and further improvements.
If you could dress any one person—dead or alive—in KRAKATAU, who would it be?
We often name our models in honour of individuals who have contributed to history. This could be writers, scientists or public figures. If one of them ever wears our jacket, I will be happy! As for the living or the dead, I am for the living! I cannot imagine a person from another era in those things that are relevant now. It is generally important for me to feel the present tense, to feel the moment, exactly what is happening at the moment in the whole world. And what happened six months or a year ago, I personally feel like a story that has lost its relevance. So I’m for dressing only living, free people.