December | Designer Focus


With Sophie Turner and Gigi Hadid among the fans of its upcycled denim and effortlessly cool aesthetic, Ukrainian label Kseniaschnaider is going from strength to strength, despite an impossibly difficult few years

Emma Sells

Ksenia Schnaider is a self-confessed denim girl. “I wear it all the time,” says the Ukrainian designer and co-founder (along with husband Anton) of cult womenswear and menswear label Kseniaschnaider. “Every day I wear jeans, but my husband doesn’t have denim at all in his wardrobe, he’s more about sportswear or formal wear, so it’s really my focus. I just love this material. It has endless opportunities to play, you can do so many things with it.” It’s why the hard-working staple is the label’s lynchpin. You’ll see it upcycled and reworked via patchwork into miniskirts and waistcoats, shredded and transformed into fuzzy, textural jeans or painstakingly crafted into sculptural jackets and precise tailoring – all infused with an effortless, streetwear-inspired cool that’s impossible to resist, which is why it counts everyone from Sophie Turner to Bella and Gigi Hadid as fans.


“We both work as the designers and creative directors. We each have a different aesthetic but the very same taste and a common vision for the brand,” says Ksenia of how she and Anton put their collections together. “I prefer a cleaner, more sophisticated design and Anton is more graphic, more digital, using humour and irony. He always adds some small details that change my idea and make it better.”

Kseniaschnaider SS24

"As a family, we try as much as possible to live a responsible life every day, so it's impossible to do the opposite in our business. And we really like to play and to redesign and recreate something unwanted into something beautiful"

Ksenia Schnaider, co-founder of Kseniaschnaider

The label started out in 2011 as more of a hobby than a business. When the pair met, Ksenia had a fashion brand she had created when she was 18 and was beginning to feel had run its course, and Anton had a branding studio. After they married and had a daughter, they started playing around with making dresses together on a small scale, selling them to friends. It wasn’t until 2016 when their now iconic Demi-Denim jeans – with their high-waisted, wide-legged top half, narrow bottom half and slashed knees – became a streetstyle sensation and buyers from around the world started calling, that they decided to put a team together. Since then, the collections have been produced in-house in Kyiv, the team heading out to flea markets to source second-hand clothes, then washing, unpicking and reimagining them with Kseniaschnaider’s signature flair.


Working with deadstock comes naturally to the pair, an extension of their day-to-day way of living. “As a family, we try as much as possible to live a responsible life every day, so it’s impossible to do the opposite in our business,” says Ksenia. “And we really like to play and to redesign and recreate something unwanted into something beautiful.” In fact, Ksenia has been working with preloved clothes since she started her first brand, as Ukraine was a major hub for unsold and unwanted clothes from the EU, so there was a constant supply of materials. The label also works with local women who use traditional techniques to hand-weave the studio’s denim scraps into a luxe, heavyweight fabric that’s perfect for jackets. In summer 2023, the brand’s approach bagged it a collaboration with Adidas Originals for a capsule of super-cool patchworked tracksuits, dresses and denim, the fabrication of which includes reworkings of the sportswear brand’s own unsold pieces.

Kseniaschnaider SS24

To say the past few years have been challenging for the pair is an understatement. First Covid hit, cutting their client list and preventing them from showing Kseniaschnaider’s collections in Paris. Then, in February 2022, just as they were getting back on their feet, the war began in Ukraine and they had to shut down production and find somewhere safe for everyone to go. “It was a really heartbreaking moment for me when we could open again and I came to Kyiv from Hungary, where I had been with my family,” says Ksenia. “I walked into the studio and saw this collection on the rail. And I realised that no one saw it. We missed the season.”



Finding a way to be playful and creative under such circumstances is next to impossible, and the pair have focused on honing their offering down to the brand’s core values, sticking to the fits they know people loved and trying to keep the brand alive. The opportunity to show at London Fashion Week for the past two seasons has made all the difference. “It’s been a really positive experience and everyone was so supportive and welcoming, it was amazing,” says Ksenia. “When I found out that we had this opportunity, I felt so inspired; I could show something on the runway, I could escape from my reality into a reality of fantasy and I could do something beautiful. So it was really important for me as a designer, not only from a business perspective because people saw my collection, but in support of my creativity.”



Now, with the brand presence growing around the world and a second KS x Adidas Originals collection dropping in spring 2024, Ksenia is tentatively hopeful about the future. “For the past two years, I think if you can plan a week ahead, you’re so happy, because life has been so unstable for us and for the brand,” she says. “Now I feel that my plan is to keep production in Ukraine as much as possible, because the people on my team don’t want to leave and I want to keep it working to provide jobs for them. So I don’t know that I have big exciting plans. My main focus is to keep everything stable and to grow slowly.”

Kseniaschnaider SS24