Ever since founding her independent fashion label, Yulia Yefimtchuk has been pushing boundaries and channelling her strong views. With minimalistic uniform and workwear elements, as well as a bold—political and feminist—message at the foundations of each drop, she not only unfailingly creates desirable collections, but also questions the fashion industry and (Ukrainian) politics. Working with an inspiring young team—comprised of Berlin-based stylist Erik Raynal, sound producer Iris Bauer and photographer Nadine Fraczkowski—to shoot her upcoming collection, Yefimtchuk is stronger than ever.
The colour palette of your A/W18 collection (black, red and khaki shades) takes off where S/S18 left off but adds a pale blue. What’s the story behind these colours and their development?
One of the brand’s main concepts is using three main colours (black, red and white)—they’re always present in my collections. Black is used as a symbol of confidence and force; red for love, happiness and joy; white for peace. The source of inspiration comes from a poster, “Graphics of the Avant-Garde”, from the early 20th century. The combination of these colours has always inspired me and they’re easy to work with; creating graphical silhouettes that are interesting in combination with the other colours that appear in my collections.
Cyrillic writing and a strong political message have defined many of your collections to date. How would you summarise the message and projection of your A/W18 collection?
The main slogan of the collection is “ПРОТЕСТ ВО ИМЯ ПЕРЕРОЖДЕНИЯ” (“Protest in the Name of Regeneration”). Protest is hope for change, a desire for development that can further transform into a great and dynamic future, in which everyone can embody their internal content. Its aim is to express one’s ideas and thoughts by means of culture and other activities. Images are created under the influence of literary dystopias: We by Eugene Zamyatin, and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. My A/W18 collection features stylised work suits, simple silhouettes and restrained colours.
How are current events in Ukraine influencing your artistic output?
Ukraine today has an economic and political crisis happening. However, I’ve noticed there’s a reaction to this beginning to develop in the arts, especially amongst young people. They make creative projects to counter the current climate. Distinct from other European countries, our government does not promote the development of the fashion industry and arts but we as designers make a lot of effort to be on the same level or in the same league as designers from the rest of the world.
And from where does the stylistic inspiration arise?
The inspiration in general was a strange journey—until the end of the process I didn’t properly understand from where it arose and how it appeared. It didn’t come to me for a long time and sometimes I feel overwhelmed; having so much inspiration that I don’t even know what to do with it. Mostly I receive inspiration from visiting different museums. I can concentrate there. I like to hide from the noise of the city and hear myself.
How would you class yourself as a designer? And how do you approach the design process?
To be a fashion designer is a profession that you can’t class yourself in. Fashion develops very fast and you should always develop yourself and your brand to be on a high level; if you stop, people will forget you. The process of creating a collection starts with searching for ideas and concepting, creating a mood. The important moment that follows is working with the technical sketches and choosing fabrics.
Over the course of your career to date, you have been nominated with Opening Ceremony Distinction during Hyeres Festival and have been shortlisted for the Woolmark Prize. What has been your greatest achievement to date as a designer and where do you see yourself progressing next?
For my brand and for me as a designer, the biggest achievement is that my concepts develop from one collection to another. In the future I want to see my brand stay strong with its own style. And my plans for the nearest future are to collaborate with a famous retailer.