You may have heard about Kira Plastinina, the wunderkind designer a few years ago, who at the age of fourteen, created a fashion empire. Ten years later, she’s all grown up. Now at the age of 23, she’s not your average Columbia Business School student. Her namesake fast-fashion brand, Kira Plastinina, counts over 300 stores from Russia and Belarus, plus she runs a contemporary label, LUBLU, based in her hometown of Moscow. In between attending lectures, studying for finals and running her own label, Kira managed to sit down with The Tig to talk about being the world’s youngest fashion designer, as well as about her Pre-Fall collection for LUBLU.
Tell us how you decided to become a fashion designer.
Ever since I can remember, clothes were something that I was very passionate about even before I knew what a fashion designer was. When people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would tell them that I would want to come up with pretty dresses. As I got older, I started dressing my dolls—I remember taking one of my mom’s scarves and creating a dress for my doll from the scarf and she was so mad until she actually saw what I had created. When I got a dog, I started dressing my dog, and then I started dressing myself and my friends. Being a fashion designer is something that I always knew that I wanted to be.
Why did you decide to start Kira Plastinina and LUBLU?
When I was 14, my family and I launched Kira Plastinina. It was originally started as a mass-market brand. Now, we have over 300 stores. I started having fashion shows for the brand, but we wouldn’t sell anything that was on the runway—it was just my creative outlet and to let my imagination flow. After a couple of those shows, there was a lot of interest for people to purchase the clothing from the runway, so I came up for the idea of our premium brand, LUBLU, which we launched in 2009. LUBLU has much more of a global presence. We have e-commerce in the US and I opened the flagship while I was in college at SMU in Dallas. We sell to about 50 boutiques globally. LUBLU sits at a higher contemporary price point.
What does LUBLU mean?
In Russian, LUBLU means love, and I really take this as more of an outlook on life and the brand. It really reflects how I’ve always thought about my work—I put a lot of love into my designs.
“I really enjoy draping and working with fabrics and working with mannequins. But for me, the most inspiring is the conceptualization of the collection. Before I do that, I come up with a story that inspires me. Sometimes it can be inspired by a book or a fable. And it can’t just be something like ‘the 70s,’ it has to be something much more concrete. For example, it would be envisioning a specific woman in the 70s who’s at a specific event and she has a specific personality. So I really need to visualize a person. Sometimes it’s less tangible—it can be a story that I come up with myself. For me to really get inspired, I have to come up with a story—I have to imagine the main character really well: what she’s like, who she is, who she hangs out with, what books she read, and then I imagine her in different settings and doing different things. For the Pre-Fall collection, the main character I created was an elf who lives in the forest, but at the same time, she can totally transform and go to a special event or go to the Red Carpet. I imagined her to be cute and sophisticated, but a little bit mischievous. I wanted her to have a fun, daring personality.” “I really wanted to use this wildflower called Lily of the Valley that only grows in Russia. It’s a wildflower that’s impossible to domesticate and I thought this flower was really compatible with my elf girl. The flower only blooms for two weeks each year and it happens to be around my birthday, so when I was growing up, I would always go to the forest with my grandfather to pick up this flower on my birthday. So I started researching the flower and I found out that it has very mystical, mysterious roots and it’s involved in a lot of folklore and fairy tales, so I knew that I had to use it in my collection.”
The Design Process
“I start with prints and colors and it comes straight from the inspiration and the story. When I envision a story, I see all the colors that go along with it. I put a mood board together. Then, we develop our prints and I actually work to create the collection from the prints. If a print has a shape or a flower, the shape can show up in a silhouette or it can be actually onto a piece of clothing. After I design 5-7 pieces, the collection really falls into place from there.”
The Pajama Pant
“In terms of the shapes, you can see there’s a feeling of the 70s. The 70s has been my favorite decade for years. This print right here is a crest that I created with the Lily of the Valley in them and I wanted it to be a print that had a 70s vibe to it. This is a pajama pant that I wanted to be glamorous and something you could wear out. These pants we started doing maybe four years ago and had a lot of success with it. In Russia, people know that these as our signature pant, so they’re always a big part of our collection.”
The Flowerlet Overcoat
“I love this coat, it’s one of my favorites because it’s simple, but so chic at the same time. And these flower appliques, they’re plastic that are sewn on to the jacket. The coat isn’t fitted and it’s comfortable, but it’s still very feminine.”