Founded upon a desire to work solely with pre-existing materials in light of the textile waste crisis, Pijmak reimagines vintage tailoring into carefully constructed garments. Olga and Ksensia of womenswear label Pijmak once sourced suiting from across Europe, but the pandemic has inspired them to innovate and develop connections at home in Russia, salvaging materials that are destined for landfill.
Pijmak represents the creativity and ingenuity that arises in the face of challenge. We chat with the team to find out more about the story behind each garment, their advice on making your wardrobe more sustainable, and their vision for a more circular future.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Olga: There’s a Russian phrase which describes it fully: when you go away, leave this place cleaner than it was, before you even came. In fact, our kids should receive a clean and resourceful planet, so we, adults, should behave!
We should respect sustainability as a way of life.
Ksenia: Sustainability for me is a lifestyle. In Moscow people started to sort waste only 2 years ago. At first people thought it was crazy, but now for many of them it’s a daily routine. Ten years ago it was impossible for Russians to wear second hand. It would mean that you are a big loser. Right now it’s fashionable and fun, and the resale market is growing. For me, sustainability reflects in my daily routine, and in my attitude towards things and people.
You offer wardrobe consultancy to your community, what advice do you give towards a more sustainable wardrobe?
Our main slogan fully describes this advice: ‘we should buy only the garments that we fall in love with’. It’s very useful to ask yourself several questions, before you buy something: do I really like it? Do I know how I will wear it? Do I have the budget to buy it? Will it last long? What is it made of? How will I utilise it after wearing?
Can you tell us more about the story behind your garments? From where the textiles are sourced, who designs the garments, where they are produced, and how they reach their first wearers?
Olga: Before COVID we were travelling to Europe to find different vintage pieces. This year we started to collaborate with Russian fond 2 Dykhanie. They have a chain of charity shops, and we buy deadstock from them.
Ksenia Yaryoma: I’m the designer at Pijmak and am fully responsible for design and production. I research regularly to enrich the aesthetic of our brand. Each drop has its own unique story.
Olga Nemushkova: When the drop is delivered, I’m responsible for selling it. We try to use every communicative tool to let people know about us. Our most loyal clients come from other people, customers recommending to friends, and so on, like a rolling snowball.
If you were able to invest in only one item this season, what would it be?
It would be a blazer, of course. Our best-selling drop was military, so we think using this item would be smart. We always use market insights from our clients, so we’d surely invest in the favourite garment of our clients.
What surprised you most about the industry in the process of developing your brand?
We were very pleased that media outlets were supportive of our concept, Vogue Russia and other magazines were quick to write about the brand. Also, it was funny to realise that the sustainable fashion market is very small, with few brands authentically operating in the space.
In your eyes, what is most misunderstood about sustainability in fashion?
We think people and companies avoid becoming sustainable because it’s very difficult, or they are afraid of being shamed. We think it’s better to do something rather than nothing. Even if somebody goes green because it’s ‘trendy’, it’s better than being ignorant. It adds to common knowledge.
Most importantly, we fear that humanity still doesn’t get it: it’s not a choice to become sustainable or not, it’s the only way for us all to survive!
What resources have you found most helpful for staying informed about sustainability in the fashion space?
Olga: Since Pijmak is a newly organised company, we began with sustainability at the forefront of our brand. All these giant guides are needed for existing companies to turn towards sustainability, but for us, this means operating as simply as possible. We also use Agile for running our projects, it’s a very useful tool that incorporates sustainability.
Ksenia: When I was creating this project, I wasn’t thinking in terms of ‘sustainability’ per se, I just wanted to use resources that already exist. That’s why I decided to become an upcycling designer. Also now is the time to rethink the old, and move away from creating new things. I used to create made to measure tailoring before, so thought that tailoring garments would be the most suitable direction for our project. So, from the very beginning, Pijmak was created as a project aimed to solely use pre-existing materials. Our business model aims to be lean and we intend to grow organically.
Tell us about a day in the studio…
It’s funny, we didn’t have a studio for almost 2 years, and only now have retained a space which we be opening soon. For us it was a very conscious decision, we didn’t want to add the cost of rent at the very beginning. Now we feel that it’s the right time, we are ready. Before opening a studio we’ve been working from our homes, having daily calls to discuss our to do list. Now we plan to work together from the studio and welcome our clients in for private fittings.
What can we expect from Pijmak over the next year?
It’s our dream to be able to help other brands achieve a more circular economy. We know that every clothing brand has dead stock, and we want to upcycle it and make a world a better place. Right now we have several contracts with russian retailers, creating drops for them. We aim to reach international acknowledgement, especially in Europe and Asia.