Fashionable or Practical?

One of the first things you’ll notice walking around Moscow on a chilly day is the amount of fur. Fur hats, gloves, scarves, and especially coats. Fur clothing is not only expensive, but also controversial in much of America and I was shocked at just how much of it I was seeing in public. A few weeks in I found out that the third floor of a shopping mall close to our university was devoted entirely to fur coats and fur accessories. It’s no exaggeration to say that I’d never seen quite so much fur in my life.

While furs are popular as an outerwear material, leather seems to be the most popular choice for handbags. Several times while riding the metro I noticed women carrying leather handbags with Italian names embossed on the front. The prevalence of these luxury materials seems puzzling given Russia’s current economic situation, however it made more sense when I remembered something I’d heard while studying Russia in the U. S.. Russian’s have a saying “We’re not so rich as to buy cheap things”, and in my opinion this really gets to the heart of the matter. In the U. S. we place great emphasis on choice, and that makes the fast fashion model so prevalent here. While Western stores like H&M which produce clothes according to the fast fashion model operate with success in Russia, you’re far more likely to see people wearing clothing items which are far more durable and timeless in terms of fashion. “You might only have one suit, but it will be a very nice suit”, to paraphrase the words of Anna Mikhailovna, one of my professors.

I think that in America we view these items as luxuries without actually taking into account the benefits of more durable materials and the necessity of warmer clothes during harsher winters. It’s definitely something to keep an eye out for if you decide to visit Moscow.

Article written by costalesm

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