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Mainline:RUS/Fr.CA/DE make travel sexy and comfortable

Get to know the fashion collective’s philosophy behind their first collection.

Every single moment, fast-paced streams of crowds flow through train stations and airports; a testament to our modern times. But even when commuting and travelling have become staples of daily life, why do we barely think twice of those processes? What does moving from place to place really mean? London-based emerging fashion collective Mainline:RUS/Fr.CA/DE dive straight into those questions. Having just shown their inaugural collection at Paris Fashion Week Men’s SS20, the collective’s imperative is for the wearers to look flawless (and sexy!), yet be comfortable when changing locations. Mainline:RUS/Fr.CA/DE are breaking fashion rules through replacing runway shows with choreographed performances while also crossing gender boundaries by going way beyond the binary. Get to know their in-depth perspectives below.

How did all of you meet and start this collective?

While in university in London, Alex met Zarina, who then met Felix on a work-and-study experience abroad in Berlin. Shortly after, Felix dropped out of university and moved together with Alex to London, where all three of us first started working together on small projects. As we individually collaborated with each other on different projects, it was clear that we should work on something greater as a team, so we founded Mainline:RUS/Fr.CA/DE at the beginning of this year.

All three of you come from different backgrounds and live in a foreign country.How has that been for you? Does this experience blend in with your collection?

It’s about always having a certain pressure and finding our own way through instability and newness. Coming from a specific background can be limiting at first, but being away from your country or anything relatable makes you think, act and react in new ways. I can see this approach throughout our collection, where we’re not trying to make things perfect, but instead we explore what we don’t know yet.

How do you relate to each other through your various backgrounds?

We come from very different places, even continents, but what bonds us together is that we were all born in a small town in our countries. When you’re from a small town, you always want to move to the capital first and from then on you just can’t settle, as it will never feel that you fully belong there. So you continue travelling and trying to create your own “home” wherever you are.

You have described travel as a spiritual experience, could you elaborate on that?

Travelling is often described as a physical act, but we like to focus on the mental and spiritual side of it. Depending on where and why you travel, there is a mind shift. Meeting people, hearing different languages, and experiencing new things affects our spirit, which makes us process information and adapt to it.

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@helpmensafeoutofmasculinity wearing SS20HIGH top

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How do you experience your personal rite of travel?

It’s an initiation to the world; travelling acts as a ritual of education. While being necessary, stressful, peaceful, daily, constant, erratic and fun as a practice, it does also instruct us on how the world and people work. Travel has a strong connection to loneliness, as we are the ones who are choosing to leave. By being excluded from our familiar environment, it makes us more open and sensitive. It tests our habits and emotions. As a ritual, we think it’s important to leave places in a perfect state before leaving. This helps us to adapt while we’re away since we left something of value behind, which in turn aids us to readapt and start fresh when returning to our destination, home that is.

Your core values are intimacy, sensitivity and sexiness in both genders. Why do you find these important?

Intimacy and sexiness are the way we approach things, whereas sensitivity is the way we deliver them. We believe that gender shouldn’t be a boundary within those values, as every individual must have the liberty to feel and experience without restriction or judgement. Characteristics swallowed by gender are one of humankind’s most destructive tools that we try to free ourselves from. Sensitivity, intimacy and sexiness are often the core of forbiddenness in both genders, and hence the importance to address them.

Your clothes question and play with binary oppositions, such as hard versus soft, affectionate behaviour versus personal space. What do you hope to achieve with this?

This is how the world is sometimes—bipolar. So it’s interesting to capture this through clothes and multi-disciplines as we did in our performance. You can apply it to anything. We want to show that oppositions can play with physicality as well as emotions, while also being beautiful and honest.

For the presentation of your collection, you collaborated with choreographer Asya Ashman. Why did you decide to show the fruits of your work in this way?

It was really important for us to showcase the collection through motion, so the viewer can see garments up close in movement; with all the creases and gathers so as to feel the essence of the different stages we go through mentally and physically while travelling. Asya shares an understanding when it comes to the concept and collaborations, plus it turned out that she was exploring the concept of travel in her own practices and wanted to push it forward by working on it with a group of performers from various backgrounds. That became a starting point for our collaboration, as it was very important for us to be in sync and to create a piece through mutual interest in the subject. The idea of this performance was to recreate specific scenes of travelling while emphasizing on moods, such as chaos, intimacy, boredom and business.

Words by Anna Sbitneva