Nestled in the heart of the Baltics, Riga, Latvia is a quiet city with a lot to say. Walking through its many winding streets, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the beauty — Art Nouveau buildings fill downtown, and parks lining the canal cutting through Riga form a perfect place to relax and take in the city’s beauty.
When one spends more time in the Latvian capital, it quickly becomes clear that the city is not as reserved as it may initially seem. As Riga’s slow pulse swells and recedes, a creative force makes its way to the fore. Something within this Baltic city is uniting, yet defining – a greenhouse of cultural cultivation and growth. This artistic spirit was on full display during this season’s Riga Fashion Week, which took place from March 26th through the 30th.
While the city’s northern position may shroud it in darkness during the winter months, the AW collections on display were a far cry from the grey winter drab. This season, designers drew global inspiration with a hometown touch. Along with the many runway shows that took place throughout the week, there were also a variety of boutique shows and smaller, in-store shows, illustrating Riga’s fashion diversity. Here are some of our favourites collections from Riga Fashion Week AW 2019.
Beginning the week was a show in Riga’s Central Market, a street food market built into the decommissioned zeppelin hangers that ring the old city. The Central Market is a grand, impressive structure, and its food offerings bring with them an international decorative flair. It’s only natural that the show opening RFW be animated by the same globetrotting principle. Public Makes Image, a “progressive designer’s brand of Urban-Glamour clothing for men and women” based in Riga, kicked the week off with bold, brash pieces inspired by the counterculture movements of cities around the world. Thick graffiti lettering spelt across t-shirts and jackets, with motifs of New York subway trains and various street art pieces. Among the offerings were also more comparatively understated pieces, including a shimmering evening dress accented in bright yellow, a high-necked red parka and a black leather jacket and pant combination. However, bold was the name of the game – bright colours pervaded most pieces, with some forms constructed from spray painted plastic sheeting.
While the streetwear trend seems to be on its way out, brands like One Wolf showed how to ease the transition into something toeing the line between formality and casual wearability. Remnants of the brand’s streetwear influence linger – the collection featured white tees with bold text tucked into grey sweatpants tied off with rope belts, and full grey camouflage outfits made several appearances. The majority of the collection looked forward, searching for ways to blend what makes the brand’s style so appealing into new forms. The results are loose-fitting, oversized pieces, short sleeve jumpsuits, and athletic attire layered in with sweaters and outerwear.
Latvian designers weren’t the only ones on display during Riga Fashion Week. Along with a jewellery show featuring designers from Estonia and a show from Italy’s Morfosis, Lithuanian designer Agne Kuzmickaite made a statement with her collection, which featured a full spectrum of colours across a variety of silhouettes. Brandished across many pieces was her trademark butterfly, which found its way onto t-shirts, jackets and more. Influenced by the crassness of online culture as it spreads into the physical world, several pieces prominently featured words and phrases as immediately “hashtagable” slogans: “SELF REALIZATION” and “AWARENESS” lined both menswear and womenswear. Not every piece was so characteristically explosive; simple black and white pieces also had a significant presence in the collection, with black dresses incorporating half-butterfly wings and jackets dressed in spreads of white jewels.
Last but not least was ANNA LED, which from its onset prominently featured imagery surrounding chess. At first, it was unclear how this theme would manifest itself in the collection, with the first models carrying cutouts of chess pieces seemingly as an afterthought. However, as the collection progressed, the complexity of the pieces made the thinking man’s game an obvious influence. Primarily a black and white collection, touches of colour kept the show lively, including blue outerwear and a leopard print dress. The real standouts, however, were the monochromatic pieces, which included tracksuits, parkas, dresses, a variety of tops and more. With expertly layered styles and textures, the collection became an instantly memorable addition to RFW.
Thanks to the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia for organising our trip to Riga Fashion Week. We cannot wait to see what next season has to offer.
To learn more about Riga Fashion Week, click here to go to their website.
words. Braden Bjella
photography. Mark Litvyakov