Even casual followers of the street style circuit have seen a pair of “demi-denims” by Kiev-based Ksenia Schnaider on an oft-photographed editor or blogger. In today’s age of constant denim reinvention and one-upmanship, the ugly-chic hybrid of mom jeans and cut-offs stands out as a true original.

The designer—who trawled Kiev flea markets for vintage jeans to create the style—is no one-hit wonder. Schnaider has been running her label with her husband and creative partner, Anton, since 2011 and she’s just returned from Paris, where she showed the label’s fall/winter 2017 collection. She’s one of many Eastern European designers making waves around the world. Here, Schnaider discusses her spring collection, what it takes to make it in fashion and yes, those infamous jeans.  

What inspired the demi-denim silhouette?

I wear denim pieces a lot myself. I am a working mother, who juggles many things at the same time. There are days when I have a minute to get ready – actually most days are like that, and that is exactly when jeans come in handy. Denim is practical and comfortable and perfect for almost any occasion (depends on styling, of course). Working with denim is very natural for me, as it is a huge part of my lifestyle.

I spent some time observing my friends wearing all kinds of vintage high-waisted jeans at flea markets in Ukraine and I became curious. I decided to deconstruct the silhouette. After experimenting with combining a skirt, Bermuda and [jeans], the Demi-Denims cut was created.

The spring collection features romantic prints and feminine pieces. What was the thought behind them?

I kept on dreaming about having a perfect summer vacation and I imagined what kind of outfits I would love to wear. That is how I came up with the main idea, as well as silhouettes and prints, which were hand-drawn by Anton, my husband and creative partner. When I work on the collection, I always think about other women and myself. I know that I want to be both comfortable and feminine, not too romantic and not too strong. Also I do not want to have to spend too much time getting ready, but I do want to look good. From my personal point of view, we managed to find this balance in our summer collection by combining linen and silk blouses covered by naïve flowers and fruits and raw heavy denim.


Ksenia Schnaider spring 2017

Ukrainian fashion continues to be on the rise. Why do you think the world is paying attention to Ukrainian designers?

I think that today there is a general interest for designers from countries, that are not traditionally fashion-related. If you go online, you will see that fashion media outlets are full of articles about designers from Ukraine, Russia and Georgia, as well as from African and Asian countries. I explain it as a desire of something new. Apart from that, Ukrainians have been pretty loud in the industry. There are many of us, so little by little people get to know more about Ukraine, Ukrainian fashion and Ukrainian designers. It’s a constant work in progress.

What does it take for a brand to succeed globally, not just at home? 

I think it is important to have a global approach to what you create. For example, historical and cultural elements have always been important for us, but we prefer to avoid being traditional in any way and we always look for innovative ways to implement Ukrainian culture into our designs. Our pixel prints are a perfect embodiment–we took traditional flowers and deconstructed them with digital tools, which made them universal.

What does luxury mean to you? 

Custom-made dresses that fit you perfectly, re-worked jeans, rare vintage pieces, handmade embroidery. Any piece that a pleasant memory is connected to—a T-Shirt you wore to your favourite group`s concert, a jacket that you wore when you got to the top of the mountain in or a shirt you wore for a date with your loved one.

What keeps you inspired? 

Being at the studio and working. Whenever I am there, I am inspired to explore and to create.

Ksenia Schaider’s spring 2017 collection is available at Stylebop.