After years of development, Jahnkoy and Puma’s partnership collection has finally arrived.
Jahnkoy teased a few pieces of the Puma x Jahnkoy collection as well as a new ready-to-wear line, Me$$enjah, at the Fashion Institute of Technology, one week after hosting an installation at the college on her design process, fashion-social research in London, Moscow and New York City, and 10 years of fashion practice, including her “Displaced” and “Deceived: No More” projects and ensembles and sneakers created with Puma that have appeared in her past shows.
The Puma x Jahnkoy collection includes upcycled merchandise from local bodegas as well as ready-to-wear and sneakers made from sustainable and recycled materials. The full collection will be presented in October.
In addition to the Puma collaboration, she also unveiled Me$$enjah, which, on the surface, merges traditional Russian cultural heritage with modern streetwear. It works best on sporty jackets, track pants and sweats that feature Russian symbols such as the Orepey, which represents the seed and spiritual protection; Krestik, a symbol for good luck and wellness, and the Bereginya that represents Mother Earth. But the collection is much deeper than just clothing.
“For me, clothes are supposed to be protection of our spirit and a reflection of our originality. We want to create a movement of cultural awareness,” said Jahnkoy, who studied at Central Saint Martins and Parsons before competing for the LVMH Prize in 2017.
“My work stands for traditional culture and craftsmanship so I’m really tackling that issue and how I can merge it in a contemporary way and inspire people to look up to traditional skills and invest in that.”
Me$$enjah had been in development since Jahnkoy graduated in 2016 and is crafted in her studio in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, with Indian artisans Marasim and Artisanal Studios, and jewelry designer Burkindy from Burkina Faso. Her goal was to keep production in Brooklyn while collaborating with artisans from outside of U.S. and make the product “less elaborative for the market.” The compromise resulted in graphics that “we’re cutting in the studio…it’s still craft because each person has to cut it and place it but it’s something that requires less skill than beading, so it could be something that is done here.”
The sportswear pieces like baggy and cropped sweatpants, tank tops and women’s sports bra and a body suit with exposed shoulders and high collar were embroidered and stitched with Russian tassels and prints, zig-zag patterns, which are symbols that represent energy and life force, and the phrase “Forever Forward.”
“I developed this artwork but it’s based on traditional culture,” she said.
Jahnkoy references the silhouettes and shapes from Soviet Union-era Russia but preserves the prints and traditional cloth of the region. Traditional Russian clothing like long robes, shirts known as the kosovorotka or Zhivago shirt in the west, and dresses and skirts called sarafans lend themselves to streetwear, especially the latter that was paired with sweatshirts with raglan sleeves, zig-zag prints, and Mir symbol that to the untrained eye looks like the acronym M.V.P. stylized.
Me$$enjah was presented to buyers for the first time this season and will deliver in January.
The artist held more of a dance performance than a fashion show last year and continued that theme this time with models walking around a platform before stepping on the grassy top and dancing individually for the audience that included New York Knicks 2019 draft pick R.J. Barrett.