Maskulo designer Artem Smyslov talks to BLEEP about how he went from sewing clothes for dolls to designing his super sexy menswear brand.
When was the first time you noticed that fashion was something someone created rather than just something you bought and put on?
The first time I thought of it was when I was getting my professional education. Before that, I just created, did whatever I wanted, and followed my instincts. However, the first feeling I got from fashion came later when I tried on a jacket from a famous brand at my mate’s place. At that moment, I saw in the mirror how my posture was changing, and I felt that sense of myself was changing, too. It was then when I realized that fashion was more than just a piece of clothing.
What made you want to pursue design vocationally as opposed to it just being a hobby?
Since my childhood, I knew what my calling was. I enjoyed sewing clothes for dolls and family members with my mom. I learned basics from my grandma; she was great at that. In a way, design is our family profession – my great-grandmother had an atelier more than 100 years ago (we call those times the Tzartime here).
What was your training in design?
I graduated from the K.G. Razumovsky Moscow State University of Technologies and Management (Department of Design) and took a curse of leather wear design, but you know, I train continuously. You can never stop. I learned a lot from my previous jobs. It’s always exciting to learn new technologies, constructions, and design – to know how all it works together.
Describe your aesthetic in five words.
It’s simple – proportion, style, saturation, anatomy, and challenge.
When you begin designing new garments, what is the starting point for you?
For me, it all starts with an image. Once I have it in my head, I immediately transfer it on paper. That’s why I always have a notebook with me, because you never know where the inspiration may come from – a gust of the wind, a movie, or a walk in a park.
There’s a lot of competition out there. How do you separate yourself from the pack?
I don’t separate myself from them. You should know your competitors and respect them. It’s more than just an art – it’s also a business. I have to always keep myself up to date with what is going on in the market to avoid repetition. For example, if an idea comes to my mind, but some time later I see that something similar already exists, I leave it, and start working on something else.
From season to season, how do you keep yourself from burning out?
The main thing, in my opinion, is to diversify your work. If something doesn’t work out, do other things. Of course, I can get stuck and feel that the crisis is coming, then I just let myself go… let my mind free. In that moments, I do what I want – listen to jazz, cook, or walk – and for this, my mind rewards me with new and original ideas, images, and solutions.
The internet has changed the fashion industry in numerous ways. How have you utilized it and social media to get your work and your brand to a larger audience?
We believe that you can become popular following these simple rules: High quality, availability, and caring about customers. And Maskulo cares. Each of our followers on social media always gets feedback, we are eager to solve any problem. We like to entertain our audience with new pictures, news, and contests. Our ads are memorable and a little bit spicy. As we say here, “Not everything we make can be advertised.”
Who is your client?
Maskulo doesn’t appeal only to one type of customer. Our clothes are popular and coveted by men from different countries, ages, and lifestyles. This success can be explained by the simple wish of all us: Every person wants to look gorgeous and feel glorious. However, generally Maskulo clothes are bought by men over 45, who want to stay hot and highlight the sexiness and masculinity of the body.
What was it like the first time you saw someone wearing your designs in real life?
It was amazing and unbelievable. The feeling you have when you see that the seeds of your work have grown into real people wearing your stuff is hard to explain. Imagine that your biggest dream has come true. That was what I felt at that moment. You understand that it is only the beginning, and there is a lot of work to do, but your soul is rising up, and this emotion is so strong and powerful that forces you to be better, to keep going, and to take up new challenges.