She’s not the only 15-year-old who’s dying for a BlackBerry, but Kira Plastinina could conceivably use the device for more than just illicit math-class texting.
This story first appeared in the January 22, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Plastinina is already the designer of a namesake fashion line, with 40 stores across her native Russia, two in the Ukraine and two more opening in the U.S. in April. After a recent two-day jaunt to New York for her introduction to the American press, she was lamenting the fact that she couldn’t buy a BlackBerry or an iPhone — neither gadget works in her home country.
That, though, should be the least of her worries. After all, not many girls her age have a namesake fragrance. But Plastinina’s press event was styled to look like the inside of a typical teenager’s bedroom, with hot pink furniture (queen-size bed, dining table and chairs, circular leather couch) and pink blown-glass bubbles hanging from the ceiling. Her favorite movie, “Mean Girls,” was projected onto one wall; songs by Mika were playing.
No market research necessary here: Plastinina’s business is founded on her ability to be in touch with an age group to which she herself belongs. Her customers, she said, are “pretty much girls like me. They’re 14 to 25 years old. They’re active, they’re — I don’t know, cool. Like normal teenage girls, I guess.”
Thus the emphasis on glitter and trendy details galore, including bubble hems, decorative zippers and sequins. Not to mention lots of pink. (At the event, Plastinina wore her own design: a pink and silver sequined tank dress over a white T-shirt.)
However, she isn’t just a teenager with a talent for sketching — her father, Sergey Plastinin, is the director of Russian dairy and fruit company Wimm-Bill-Dann Foods and the main backer of his daughter’s line. The young Plastinina works with a design team made up of twentysomethings who help produce her collection. She also appeared on a Russian fashion-themed TV show called “Fabrika Zvezd” and even had a crew from MTV Russia following her on her trip to New York. She is soon to appear in her favorite American magazine, Teen Vogue, which shot her for an upcoming issue.
In between interviews and press appointments here, Plastinina managed to hit Dylan’s Candy Bar and the Nintendo store, as well as do some much-needed cramming (exams are coming up). She says she will try to return to the U.S. when her first stores open in New York (on Houston Street and Broadway) and Los Angeles (Third Street Promenade). However, “I can’t really visit a lot because I have to go to school,” she explained matter-of-factly, “so they don’t kick me out.”
Plastinina’s stores, which are being marketed as a younger, Russian-inflected H&M, share the Swedish fast-fashion giant’s tradition of affordable price points and weekly deliveries of new merchandise. New York appealed to Plastinina as an initial location because, as she said, “New York’s teens are cool. People all over the world, they want to go to New York and, like, I don’t know, hang out there. And I like American fashion trends, and I like American magazines, celebrities and everything.”
As for those who would question her design acumen, Plastinina would beg to differ. “I started to ‘work’ work, like two years ago, but I was drawing all my life,” she said. “Even when I was small, I knew that when I grew up I was going to become a designer. It’s really cool, because I didn’t even grow up yet, but I’m a designer already.”
Still, managing a soon-to-be-international fashion business while attending high school full time is no cakewalk. “Well, I kind of have no other choice. I have to do everything. But it’s fine. It’s actually not that hard. Of course, I don’t have a lot of free time — actually, I don’t have any free time at all,” she admitted. “But I love to work. It’s not like solving math problems. It’s more fun. It’s creative, so I can jump on the [design] table and say ‘I want to make this.'”