The relationship between culture and identity is often explored in fashion to varying results. Joining the conversation is Nine, an under-the-radar streetwear label that is the brainchild of Nikita Rusin. Since its founding in 2012, Nine’s take on the theme has yielded trendy collections steeped in a ’90s aesthetic that combines art, design and hip hop influences.
Nine is also a deeply personal project for the Russian-born, Singapore-based Creative Director, who lived in countries such as Belarus, France, Canada and Netherlands before setting up home on our shores. As a result of his experiences living overseas, Rusin has devised the motto, “Local Stranger”, to inform his designs at Nine. It is also a philosophy that encapsulates his observation of communities and societies as a transplant.
For Nine’s latest outing, Rusin reminisced on the growing up years and transformed those memories into a tight edit of versatile graphic t-shirts, nylon bags, neon colour-block socks. In short: A collection sure to appeal to the savvy millennial consumer. Here, together with co-partner of Nine, PR practitioner and frequent Female collaborator Parveen Hassanbhai, Rusin talks about favourite cities, streetwear’s influence and designing in the age of Instagram.
What provided the impetus for the launch of Nine?
Rusin (R): Nine was started during a trip to Bombay in 2012, where I stumbled upon a textile convention. It opened up my eyes to the endless possibilities and inspired me to do something on my own. It ended up being a clothing label.
Is the brand motivated by feelings of displacement or integration?
R: Most of the inspiration comes from the places I’ve lived in and spent an extended amount of time. The idea of remixing something familiar and local with a strange and foreign point of view is what drives us.
Has the advent of disruptive digital platforms such as Instagram changed the way you design at Nine?
R: Yes, it did. We have to search deeper in terms of ideas and concepts, design on a faster pace. However, It created a healthy awareness of what the world is up to, opened up many opportunities for us and allowed us to connect with great people around the world.
What do you think of streetwear’s assimilation into the realm of luxury fashion?
Hassanbhai (H): The bigger brands are getting more casual, more street and drawing their influences from hip-hop to sports. Maybe it’s because of a sudden shift in the ways younger consumers shop and dress now. We’re living in a very image-centric age of Instagram where streetwear trends generate huge buzz on social media. It is also a growing movement that dominates what style is these days. Besides craftsmanship, I think the younger audiences of today prefer to have something different—therefore the desire for traditional luxury items have gone out the window.
R: I think substance is key. I am completely fine with a luxury brand creating streetwear-inspired items or collaborating with artists, designers and the likes. But authenticity and mutual respect is key.
What are some of your favourite places to visit?
H: Bhutan, Italy and Tokyo. Bhutan was a spiritual journey for me. I fell in love with the natural beauty of the place, and the warmth of the people.
R: For me, it’s Amsterdam, Los Angeles and of course, Tokyo. There’s also Paris. It is raw, chaotic and in-your-face. It has no shame. It’s a place where conservative meets contemporary, where history is created at a global scale. Moscow is home. I love the history and the pride it carries. Every wall, building, monument, train station tells the struggle and deep history our people had.