Earlier this month, Jahnkoy’s collection The Displaced – a collaboration with sports brand Puma – was shown at the SA Menswear Fashion Week in Cape Town.
“SA Menswear Fashion Week is one of the major fashion platforms in the world. They invited me to have a show, and Puma made the show possible,” says the label’s founder and designer, Maria Jahnkoy. Born Maria Kazakova, Jahnkoy – a Siberian who lives in New York – believes that cultural exchange is a necessary element of life.
Her label aims to preserve and develop traditional craftsmanship from around the world and bring awareness to the importance of cultural, ethnic and aesthetic diversity. By juxtaposing historical facts, crafts, mass culture, everyday materials, symbols, text and imagery, Jahnkoy creates a construction of cultural heritage, mixing everyday reality and her own identity.
The Displaced was conceived as a variation on the theme of sportswear. It aims to prove that sportswear can advocate towards the preservation of craft and tradition while simultaneously remaining contemporary.
“The collection was created with recycled sportswear and fast-fashion garments that are found and sold in my neighbourhood. The project was achieved with the support of the community. Together we learnt craftsmanship, together we are teaching ourselves, we are sharing our cultural difference and similarities, and we are raising a force of creativity in the community because we believe that art is life.”
The project pulls back the curtain on the accountability of the fashion system, and sheds light on the environmental and cultural impact of fast fashion.