The Russian It Bag. An Interview With Arny Praht

Arny Praht is the kind of Russian brand I have always dreamt of finding: in their own atelier in St-Petersburg they make gorgeous minimalist leather bags that are of high quality, but still surprisingly affordable. They work together with different designers, but all the bags are executed in the same no-nonsense style: they contain no unnecessary decorative details and the brand name is subtly and almost invisibly sewed into the leather. I had a chat with Vladislav, founder and spiritual father of Arny Praht, to find out what the brand is all about.

Where does the name Arny Praht come from and what does it mean?

Arny Praht is the name of a family-member in whose honor the brand was named. Praht is actually a German name (Pracht in German), but since we are after all a Russian brand we left it Praht for easier reading.

How did it all start?

We started out by making uniforms and work-clothes for restaurants, sewing standard items. This type of work is very limiting to your development. The items are all more or less standardized and the competition between different companies is based entirely on prices. We always wanted to develop and produce something exclusive, which is why with time we started re-orienting our production towards accessories, or bags to be more precise.

There is nothing superfluous in our designs.

You work with different designers, but nonetheless your style is very coherent – minimalistic, contemporary designs, specific colours: how would you describe your trademark style? And what do you look for in a new designer?

Yes, we work with different designers, but the basic design of the models is decided by us and we strive to keep them as they are. We want to do it in such a way that, regardless of the model, the general characteristics of our production remains similar. We would like people to be able to tell us apart from other brands, and to recognise our products. Our style is characterised by a kind of German moderateness, at times it’s austere, it is not necessarily for a specific occasion and most importantly: there is nothing superfluous in our designs. We try not to make things complicated, if something can be removed or simplified, we do it. In designers, we look for a common vision on what the finished product should look like, and also that they share our values, that is perhaps the most important.

On your website it says that Arny Praht is an accessory label: what do you plan on or would you like to make in addition to bags? What are your goals for expansion of the brand?

Yes, that’s what it says, but we’re going to remove that in the near future, because we are currently preparing a collection of clothing. The official presentation will take place in October. It will be women’s clothing and we will start again with simple, basic items. Our goals and dreams are to create an independent brand that is strong in terms of design, values, service and quality: we want to be a worthy alternative for foreign mass-market brands.

In general, so far there are not that many well-dressed people [in Russia], but we are working on improving that.

What inspires you in all of this?

What sincerely inspires us, are the warm responses we receive from our customers. We’re very happy to see beautiful people wearing our things. Within the short period of existence of our brand (1,5 years, ed.) we’ve managed to surround ourselves with a specific auditorium of clientele for whom we create our products. In these difficult financial times, we’ve managed to create a product that is able to compete on the market and that people really like, which gives us new energy, but also the country, as we produce locally. For us this is very important. In addition, we just heard that we received a grant to present our collection at fashion week St-Petersburg in the beginning of October, so we are now working extra hard on our new collection.

On your website you also say that Russia’s own style has “only just begun to develop”: what is your take on Russian fashion and style?

Russian fashion has some room for development, it’s growing and that’s great, there’s a lot of potential. Currently even the government is trying to support Russian manufacturers and designers, which is really nice. A lot of new projects have appeared that unite, educate and offer the opportunity to show yourself and test the demand for your product. In general, so far there are not that many well-dressed people, but we are working on improving that.

This is a little bit surprising, as in Western Europe we have this image of Russian women that they are very fashionable and that their looks are well thought through. Also, glossy magazines often feature reports on Russian street style.

It’s true that most Russian women take very good care of themselves look-wise. Not everyone goes to the neighbourhood store without make-up. But from my point of view, street style photos are often taken around fashion events where people indeed look very stylish, but I think the majority of people have yet to fully develop their taste.

All images are courtesy of Arny Praht.