Interview: Maxi Shilov
Photo: S H U
S H U STUDIO
What have you been doing for the last week?
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What’s your attitude to China? Some people, especially who lived in the 90s, consider China as something of low quality. I think, there are no problems now as you produce good clothes. Did you change your perception after you had been impressed by the culture and the quality of manufacturing?
I left for China from St.Petersburg so that to produce our basic classic model of the raincoat. It was impossible in St.Petersburg that way as I wished – with glued seams, with the choice of cloth colors, with color proofs and with the quality I strived for. It was clear that I wouldn’t sew in Russia, I didn’t want to. Things that I found out in China were stunning and we've been working there for five years already. The first two years I lived there and now I go there every month for seven – ten days.
When you left for China, did you consider the brand in the mass manufacturing? What goals did you set and do you see the potential in the future?
From the very beginning I saw the brand as the worldwide, exactly in that place where everything originate in the manufacturing. China is the center and the power of it. This is the global industry where all the novelties appear today and we are global brand there. We can produce endless volumes there and all our ideas can come true. Here it is impossible, unfortunately.
What is SHU? Is it a brand from Russia or it has no boundaries initially? What’s its identity?
This is a brand from Russia, from St.Petersburg. This city identified our trend. The first and the main item of our brand is a waterproof raincoat. This is identity of the brand concerning the place in which it originated. We never had limitations or boundaries that we have to sew in Russia, in St.Petersburg. Once I thought that I would do everything myself without any factory. However, the speed of our development and orders made me organize the process in manufacturing. We work in the place where there are possibilities to bring our ideas to life. In this aspect, we are international brand.
Is the feeling of difference important for you working in the segment of sport and casual brands such as Rains, Uniqlo and others? Are you in this segment?
I would say yes and no. There are also North face, Patagonia, only more Outdoor. Our base is impermeability, this is our trend. We are evolving, learning new things, wondering in the industry. We do not define ourselves as waterproof clothes only. We are seeking for new ways of expression.
Who are your audience and whether it matches your vision?
I love that completely different people wear SHU. We often work in our shops and see our customers and they are different. From this point of view, I like that our audience is not special but vice versa – it is a wide range.
I see a certain line of opinion leaders you’d like to coinside with. You collaborate with “Mumiy Troll” band and rock artists. Tell me why and would you like to give your brand any identity with the help of such cooperation?
Before I began to sew, I had played music for a long time. Later, as my appreciation, I sewed raincoats for my beloved musicians and presented them at the concerts – their music inspired me and I just did something pleasant for them. Now we work only with those people who are close for us and I consider this way as the most sincere. If I like somebody’s creations or business I just phone these guys and propose collaboration – and we work together.
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Could the brand exist without Andrey Kravtsov?
I won’t live forever, so it is possible. My goal in the personal brand is to provide the brand with trend, power and origin so that it could live for a long time without my personality.
Could you describe your common day?
If in Moscow and in summer, this is an early morning with running and then taking a bath – this is time without gadgets in complete shutdown. Further, this is the office or the factory if I am in China – working processes and meetings. In the evening, there could be appointments or my personal time for listening to music or reading a book.
S H U STUDIO
What’s your team? Is it important for you and is it true, that there are no occasional persons? Is it a question of time that there are not many people? Thirty guys, as I know?
Yes, we are thirty. I consider every man who work with me as a partner, a friend with a maximum connection to feel not only working moments. I think, I gained success in this direction. Surely, the bigger the brand, the less time I’ll have for everybody. Nevertheless, it’s important for me to talk to everybody and ask for their opinion and if there are any questions or ideas in general.
Let’s talk about your origins. First, this was Ural region, then St.Petersburg and Moscow. How important for you the energy of the place in which you live and create?
Every city was in the right time for me. I am glad for sure, that was born in Ural region as it tempered me much. This was a severe town Severouralsk with many mines and zones. Then it was St. Petersburg, where I was brought up esthetically. I met people who told me fine things, opened something new and this gave me a new direction. This is there I began to create and the story of my brand began. Later, when I felt power and scope of my energy, I realized that needed go further and bring my ideas to life. This is a global history, this is China. I understood that I should be there with what I had already begun to do.
How important for you the evolving of the brand and how do you measure your success?
Success is the feeling that you have done something. When you do everything yourself without anybody’s directions. You see, you work, you feel the result and you don’t deceive yourself. You set mini-tasks and mini-plans and you succeed with the feeling that you are cool.
What are your goals for the next year to be cool?
I’d like to work with international companies. We’ve reached already the worldwide level, I know how to achieve it and will learn even more. Further, we’ll communicate globally to the very top, for those who are professional in this area. This is our main challenge – my personal one and of our team.
S H U STUDIO
Do you ever feel the lack of inspiration?
S H U STUDIO
How do you measure quality beside technological moments?
Firstly, every time you can make better. You’ve been constantly learning the very top and aspire there. I love Japan and Scandinavia where they work with the incredible consciousness how everything should be done. In China and Japan they say “master-hand” and my goal is to achieve it, this is my way.
How does the brand SHU feel in the environment where it is now? Do you see the global potential for development and creative fire?
At the very beginning, I went to markets myself and more often communicated with those who work in this industry. However, the last year we thought about the Europe and the goal in this year is to show them our works. Many people just are not aware of us and we want to present our clothes so that they estimate it substantially.
Are there any important persons who indicate your vision or you just follow your own way and don’t care?
People’s opinion who work with me always has weight as we create everything together and I care what my team think or whether they have any ideas. This is mega important to let people speak out and I always listen to. The other essential thing is to learn from others who knows more than you do, and in this meaning, I am always seeking new. Probably, this is my great advantage - to learn from people that are more professional. To sum it up, there are two ways – people nearby and more experienced guys.
Do you consider the brand with mass changes from the ecological point of view? Using more synthetic materials instead of goose down, for example?
We don’t use animal products in clothes. This year I’ve read the book “Patagonia” and was lost in thought about ecological points. Since 1991, Patagonia produce t-shirts out of recycled bottles and there are dozens of plants for this process and investments from USA. We are here only begin to think about it, we don't have such background.
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Do you have any challenge to overcome now?
Yes, and I’m sure that this is the right way, though, maybe trendy. I thought about reusing our clothes, bring it back for discounts and recycle. However, the government support is fundamental here as this is a whole industry that should be developed. Probably, we’ll start to do it ourselves when feel enough power. I believe in my team more than in support from anybody else.
Do you ever feel tired of everything and is it possible that one day you leave your business for the sake of recording the album, for example?
Even if I intend to record the album, it won’t interfere with me. Every time we achieve new horizons, I have no doubts about my work. I see how we grub and every time we work more interesting ways, with more scope. Even I step aside and begin to paint…I think, this is possible though as an ordinary hobby but not the main activity in my life.
Why do you do all this? Is it a point of self-realization?
There is the most important question – could you not do? If you can, then, don’t, but I cannot. I just feel real drive and that’s it.
In other words, you don’t have much reflection about “why”?
Certainly, I do. There may be many answers – because you can’t or anything else. As for me, I’d like to change something in my life and in life of the others. I just see that this is real life. There is energy between people, sincere and alive, and things we should all live for the sake of them. You just feel it and that’s all. People perceive it and follow our clothes since they feel the fire and drive which overwhelm us.