I was standing behind this gentleman on the escalator today. He is about 60 (well in Russian years. he could really be like 42…), rocking a beanie, a very worn-in winter jacket and this backpack. This backpack struck a chord with me not only because it says “I’m the best,” but because several times while I am on the metro I have been struck by an article of clothing, a bag or an accessory and thought “how much would an LES hipster have paid for that?” Heck, how much would I have paid for that?
Usually the Russians I see sporting these items are not the type preoccupied with their appearance. This purple backpack could have made a strange discarded thrift store journey from Milwaukee to Irkutsk. It could have been found in a trash bag or simply chosen for the color. Yesterday, I saw a teenager in such perfectly worn-in Nike high dunks from the 80s that I almost asked to buy them off of him to ship to a friend in California. When he turned around, however, I noticed that he was missing several teeth and that his gums were blackened from neglect. I don’t think he was wearing the sneakers to give off a certain image. I think they were that worn in because homeboy spent a lot of time on the street. What may be deemed vintage or high-end thrift in the states is just a person’s wardrobe here. Many Russians own few clothes, repeating outfits in a week (gasp!).
First, the previous statement makes me feel like an asshole with too many clothes. Second, it’s a by-product of the fact that clothes are extremely expensive in Russia and its the social norm to buy a few items that look good on you and wear them until they fall apart, a la Frances. Although Russians don’t have that same kind of je ne sais quois fashion sense. Third, maybe I am underestimating these people? Maybe they read the same hipster tumblers of people walking around the East Village that I do. But probably not.
All in all, the point of this rather pointless post is to highlight this incredible backpack and to announce that I will be now be posting pictures of rockin’ metro fashion I encounter.