Milliner Ruslan Baginskiy crafts headwear with traditional codes and adds structure to headwear that delivers something modern yet dramatically different.
How would you define the DNA of the brand?
If I had to define our DNA as a brand it would be about finding a balance between traditional craftsmanship and contemporary design. We approach this by embracing the rich heritage of different Ukrainian techniques like embroidery, weaving, and beadwork and combining them with a modern, utilitarian aesthetic. We try to create pieces that go beyond an object – they always tell a story.
Your career transitioned from a stylist to a master milliner — how did this knowledge support you when launching your brand?
My transition from stylist to milliner and designer taught me to learn. As funny as that sounds, learning is probably one of the most invaluable skills to have in business. Sourcing and analysing information, staying in tune with the current times, and moving at a quick pace are all a must in the fashion industry today.
Since you launched in 2015 the brand has seen global success — how does this feel?
It’s truly an honour to have people like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Kaia Gerber, Gigi Hadid and many others embrace the brand. Of course, this level of recognition and support always feels incredibly rewarding and inspiring to me and to every person behind the brand. I’m always amazed that collections resonate with people of such diverse backgrounds and so many different countries.
Your timeless pieces are designed to last. How have you had to adapt as the brand has scaled?
As the brand has scaled, we’ve remained dedicated to craftsmanship and the effort to create something timeless. One of the challenges has been to adapt our production processes without cutting on quality, this is always difficult, especially with the current war. I’m proud to say that so far, we are able to continue creating locally with a maximum amount of handcrafted details as the ‘Made in Ukraine’ label remains a key value for me.
How important is it to use traditional Ukrainian techniques and how do you combine this with a utilitarian and contemporary design?
Traditional Ukrainian techniques are at the heart of our brand. I combine this artisanal heritage with a more globalised and modern vision of headwear and accessories to create something that reads in a contemporary context. So, it’s really about bridging the old and the new in a harmonious way. You can see this everywhere. For example, our first-ever jewellery drop that was just released, RB SKARBY (Ukrainian for treasures), combines beadwork, which has a longstanding history in traditional Ukrainian clothing with a more native touch and modern whimsical shapes. One of the things that sets us apart in our dedication to environmental solutions is that the brand has its own production. This means everything is produced on-site and no distant storage facilities are required. We don’t fly our pieces across the world to get embellished or assembled. They are created in Ukraine and then shipped directly to you which really decreases our carbon footprint.
Which pieces drive sales season after season in the Middle East?
In the Middle East, we are present at Harvey Nichols and Bloomingdales in Dubai, and what we have seen in the choices of the RB community there is a higher demand for more elegant shapes with wide brims as well as hats that feature a lot of detailing like our crystal-embellished baker boy cap and chain strap fedoras. Chain-embellished styles have become a signature element of the brand, and we continue to explore them in new shapes and variations. For example, as part of our winter ‘The Hat’ project, we introduced a full crystal chain that is detachable and can be worn as a separate accessory on its own. We plan to incorporate this iconic detail in fresh ways further on as it has become a strong part of the brand’s visual vocabulary.
What advice would you give to new designers?
I can only say what I say to myself – constantly define and stay true to your unique vision. Consistency and quality are key, you have to believe in what you do and what you stand for. To me, that’s probably my family and my heritage. This translates into the general approach I have from creating new collections to the way we interact at the office and production – and I think it’s a huge part of the success we have found.
What is next for the brand?
It’s hard to say but I hope that the future holds growth and exploration, for myself and for the brand. I hope to continue to expand our presence globally, to collaborate with like-minded artists of all kinds, and of course to innovate in the fields of design and creativity.
“We fearlessly seek innovation despite set norms…”
This is The Fearlessness Issue – what makes Ruslan Baginskiy fearless?
What makes Ruslan Baginskiy fearless is our willingness to take risks and push boundaries. I started when was really young with no formal education in the field and no industry behind me. The brand was built from scratch, and this required an immense amount of bravery from me and my team. We fearlessly seek innovation despite set norms, we manage crises, and even embracing our tradition has become a question of bravery considering the war in Ukraine. I hope this message translates through the work we do and can inspire others to be brave.
October – The Fearlessness Issue with Chaumet – Download Now
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