Counter Culture E01 Russia

Counter Culture E01 Russia

[Music] the streets of most of the world cities are now lined with brand names that are the same whether you’re from canada or kazakhstan while global retail brands are making many streets look frighteningly similar how we shop is still different fast or slow ritualized or routine shopping culture not only shapes nations but in some cases becomes a country’s whole identity upon a time it was music art literature and architecture that defined a culture but what about consumerism shopping might be seen as superficial but from tokyo to moscow it’s arguably the defining cultural force of our time i’m at the start of a six-country journey that will chronicle how everything from politics to globalization is being shaped by the way we shop [Music] here in moscow it’s a retail revolution rather than a good old-fashioned political one that’s changing the way russians see themselves as usual with russian revolutions much of the action is taking place right here on red square you only have to peek inside the old state department store gum opposite the kremlin to glimpse a new russia unfolding before your eyes luxury is at the very heart of what’s going on here there’s a devotion to opulence and grandeur that harks back to the zahras days but less than 20 years after the fall of communism the question is this how far can new russian consumer power drive this transitional society and how quickly will it happen because here the past is never very far behind you russia’s experiment with consumerism is still less than 20 years old yet it feels slightly odd to be walking along red square and seeing a bunch of luxury good stores staring out at lennon’s tomb we’ve come to moscow because this city is at the heart of a retail revolution which is not only changing urban planning but creating a whole new class system the new moscow is all about new money because there isn’t really any old money here alien adult sky has been at the helm of russian vogue since its launch seven years ago and has witnessed the emergence of new classes like the oligarchs or russian multi-millionaires there is this image of the russian abroad and you see them on rodeo drive and they’re going down sloane street and they’re skiing in this emirates who are these new russians can you sketch that oligarch and his wife well let’s put it this way first of all i think the word oligarch already is already old-fashioned it’s like new russians new russians who are new russians i’m new russian no i am and who is an oligarch a person who’s got 1 million or 20 million or 22 billion what are we talking about so let’s talk very well to people who can afford to buy a house in regent street or off stand-up gardens or whatever and yes everyone is looking at them because they spend a lot of money and whenever somebody beat arabs and 10 years ago russians spend so much money they attract the attention immediately yes they’re there and they are spending money why because they love it and because they have it having it and loving it is the subject of one of russia’s best-selling novels by oksana robsky she’s not just an oligarch’s wife she’s an oligarchs widow since her husband was assassinated she only ever goes shopping with her bodyguard in tow [Music] [Applause] tell me the evolution that you’ve seen amongst your peers the people that you spend time with over the last decade the last five years and maybe even the last two or three years what has actually happened in russian consumer culture yes absolutely how does this manifest itself because for decades russians were unable to travel and now you’ve got chelsea which has become moscow’s other suburbs so with russians living all over the world having new experiences how is it going to change their spending and consuming habits to [Music] there’s no getting away from the fact that at home or abroad russians are heading the league tables for conspicuous consumption bentley sells more cars in moscow than anywhere else in europe the brand having ousted the mercedes 600 from the top spot as the new russian millionaire’s car of choice after some time people understand that hidden things tells more about your style and the wealthy than show off cars and i think bentley that’s why people choose bentley because you know it’s unique brand which combines uh super exclusivity and i would say the the hidden luxury luxury as well so is this new culture of make it and spend it simply a return to the past the behavior of this new russian consumer is it a product of just the last decade or could we rewind 85 to 90 years and the same thing would have happened is that part of the russian dna or is that a creation of the last decade to tell you the truth if we wind back okay 85 90 and if you take russian variance which is sort of aristocracy and round aristocracy uh people who did have money who did have land who did have anything they needed very good assets they would send their personal shop if they didn’t call him that way to paris and get the hat by the latest train to go into the you know to the reception with azar just to have the latest hat so i think there is something in dna there do you think there’s a new consumer stratum being created in russian society just like in japan you have young girls who live with their parents and can spend a lot of money on luxury goods is there a similar woman in this country who almost doesn’t exist anywhere else it’s a tough question i think in a certain way in the year 2005 russia is a bit in a transition let me explain there was say some three years ago this straightened women who were either the wives or you know the lovers of very very rich people who could afford anything and they’ve been talked about a lot and i think at the moment we are going to a slightly different generation where on the one hand there are children of marriage people who are becoming more discerning in what they do and how they spend parents parents or family money and on the other hand there are very ambitious women who learned how to make money and how to earn it be it a banker or some very talented stock exchange manager whatever who are beginning to shape up this new stratum so at the moment i think we’re in transition and though the wealth is still concentrated at the top there is a new growing professional class here who are enjoying spending their earnings not just women but men too the main change is the change of mentality mentality not only consumers but all the people who live in here in russia in moscow especially this mentality has changed very much very much first of all this is a attitude towards the life the style of life last five years we can see that we have a very new feeling of consumer culture so i think the main idea of consumer culture here in russia is so that we did or we have done a very fast jump from absolutely nothing total nothing to total everything the specter of nothing on the shelves still haunts people here the state department store gum has been witness to the ups and downs of russia’s retail history having survived the revolution by the 50s it was one of only a few places where there were any goods to buy muscovites loved it and flocked to it but by 1992 like the soviet economy it had nothing much to offer the fall of communism brought forth a new kind of revolutionary in the form of showman and visionary mikhail kuznerovich who relaunched the store [Music] but will it ever cater to the masses again when you survey the retail scene in this country is every level being addressed is every consumer being catered for do you think here in gum in in there on the red square i’m work i want to work not only with louis vuitton or with moschino not i’m invited here adidas i’m one here dara i mean white here accessorize on monsoon and i give this proposal but those are still quite expensive brands an adidas standalone store or a monsoon those are still quite expensive stores for many russians no and in england in london monsoon is expensive no somebody on the red square must to work hard work to go up level for all of these people who live in my country and i will be happy then monsoon storm not will be expenses for the mass i’m sure that our match ira could be arrived in the level on the british when monsoon not any more expensive how long is that timeline do you think a decade five years not easy question not in the answer but just your your feeling as a retailer and how things are going and if everything is is stable enough is it uh well i have 13 years experience we’ll be happy if in 25th anniversary of my experience it could be done [Music] moscow is a city of contrast to say the least and for many muscovites this type of shopping environment is typical of daily life a collection of kiosks located around a major metro center the mayor of the city has other plans however he’d like to make room for more mega malls but locals have a different feeling and they show a little sign of moving away from this type of shopping environment like america the opportunity for a mass market in russia is enormous so it’s fascinating to see how potential players are approaching it while there are now big supermarkets and out of town malls where international names like zara and marx and spencer have set up shop their clientele is not the same as it would be in france germany or the uk most lower end middle-income consumers just can’t afford to take their rightful place in this new retail class system yet conde nast publisher robin holt has lived in moscow for the last three years what makes the russian consumer different from the brit the american the french i’ll give you a for instance in my office i have 250 employees the majority of those are young women and i know that i have seen them i’d be walking past i see them at lunchtime and i think she had an apple yesterday and she’s having an apple today and i’ll go are you only eating apples and she’ll go duh and i’ll go why and she goes because i’ve got my eye on a handbag that i want to buy and they would rather not eat or go on a very restrictive diet than actually go without the fashion item that they want do you think there is that entrepreneurial spirit though in let’s say fashion uh to develop home homegrown brands uh and let them flourish here and even take them overseas i think there is that potential the only thing i have to say about it and we see it in the magazine business is that whether you get the young people and i’m now talking 18 19. so if you say the majority of their life has been lived since perestroika although they still have the influence of teachers their schooling their peers their grandparents but the majority of their life have been made with anything is possible and i hope that there will be a great industry but it’s a decade away i would say realistically and that’s if oil prices remain high that’s if the economy remains stable that’s if the desire to do this remains that’s if the dollar remains where it is or roundabout where it is it’s a lot that you’ve seen there a lot of living for the day huge living for the day absolutely and that’s what of course is so exciting you know that’s why young people love to be here this is you know dr vita who cares let’s go out to 3 a.m 4 a.m who cares making russia fashionable again is closely linked with this country’s self-image and home-grown brands like this bosco sports line is keying into a newly forged fondness for [Music] a new vitality is also changing the face of even the most traditional russian institutions like the bolshoi ballet igor shapur in russia’s leading young fashion designer who dresses the likes of cher and pink has earned a reputation in paris and milan now he’s back in moscow and designing costumes and sets for the bolshoi’s latest production fashion might be his day job but ballet is his passionate um [Music] is who have developed their businesses abroad and are now coming back to build bases in moscow [Music] he’s just set up a new atelier where he’s hoping to employ russian seamstresses to produce his designs locally this is a huge step forward in a society where craftsmanship had all but disappeared during the soviet era by [Music] but this quest for individuality isn’t just about how you look it’s about where you live as well maria loganova a resident of one of the many new developments outside the city is taking me sightseeing so maybe describe this area to me a little bit that we’re in um actually it’s uh beverly hills of russia in in what in what way the most rich and famous and prosperous live here and so what happened how is this area that evolved in the last 10 years or 15 years i guess we should say dramatically like dramatically there is lots of new construction a lot of uh wealthy people moved here because it’s also quite a beautiful place uh they called it before russia and switzerland because of the landscape and pine trees but now russian switzerland’s become beverly hills could you say that there is now a typical type of resident that lives here oh typical it’s what unite people who live here is their uh level of income and that’s it you can have very many different people with the same level of income right huddled away behind high security walls the wealthy residents of these compounds bring their own particular brand of siege mentality with them this has to be one of the most extraordinary places i’ve ever seen you can’t see it right now but there are there’s security everywhere around us and this is a typical oligarchs compound and we could be in suburban seattle or atlanta if it’s know this much or even houston and uh i’m not sure what these homes have to do with russia but they certainly look like they belong to a large u.s housing development which is um just really amazing and just the level of paranoia because just behind our camera there are tons of men with big sticks and kalashnikov so it’s all rather fascinating and terribly paranoid as well what’s it like living in a compound would you say this type of compound living do you think this is a symptom of volatile times and that obviously security is is a big issue in this country do you think if you look ahead 10 years 15 years do you think the walls come down eventually oh i hope so maybe 15 10 years i don’t know look at latin america they’re having walls for quite a long time and they’re not ready to put them down so it can last for quite a while but security definitely it’s a very very big issue here if you look around it feels quite american not terribly russian i think we could be in a suburb of many u.s cities so is it quite a closed community or or do you have a good relationship and is it because i mean sometimes you think about oh i live in a compound and everyone’s friends and it’s sort of like an addition of desperate housewives or something um do you prefer street life and to be in an urban environment uh or does this suit you i can’t say that i like this very much i prefer street light i’m sometimes tired from the street life for moscow because there are too many cars too many crowds it’s really it’s much different from the moscow i was growing up in but still i prefer an open space rather than this it’s a very small world and you feel yourself in a fortress and you don’t want your kids to be rest here so it’s a nice play for maybe for pensioners or for very small kids but in between maybe a big city is better so it’s quite a closed compound i would say when people do not really are not very eager to communicate with each other [Music] just along the road from marie’s estate an equally extraordinary new development of designer shops is being built dubbed luxury village it caters for her nuvo-rich neighbors a kind of on-suite luxury mall i’ve often wondered why none of the world’s great retail developers have ever managed to pull off the modernist suburban shopping experience but i guess i had to come to rublovka to experience luxury village it’s been developed by mercury which is this country’s biggest premium retail group and what’s curious about this project is that you feel like you’re in switzerland but there’s just a little bit too much bling when you think about the consumer boom in russia you immediately think about fashion and accessories watches and jewelry but is the circle being rounded out now perhaps where there is a focus on commissioning great architects that there is an emphasis on interiors as well definitely interior design happened to be i have to say a bit late uh they started with you know i would say they would start with fashion and dura and so on and now they’re approaching lifestyle as well i know that there’s at least 20 overseas a-list interior designers and architects who are working in russia and creating houses or apartments already here and there is a good generation of new russian architects who you know start to apply that talents here properly so i think we’re getting there moscow with its mix of new nostalgia and an old-fashioned sense of risk-taking a living for today mentality makes it an exciting exhilarating and frankly weird place to shop for me it’s a living example of what’s likely to happen in other emerging [Music] markets [Music] watercolor chat is very interesting because it is very divided between young people who think that anything’s possible and other young people who are waiting as their grandparents say for for the bubble to burst so it’s still we’ve still got this mixture of of you know but it could all disappear tomorrow so why not live today well that’s it for moscow i’m off to stockholm to look at retail at its most democratic stay with bbc4 as tyler heads to sweden to investigate how such a tiny country has managed to dominate the global retail scenes with brands like ikea and h m that’s next
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Counter Culture E01 Russia

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