BASEES Annual Conference 2022

Z(a) Pobedu! New Nationalist Fashion in 21th century Russia.

Fri8  Apr03:20pm(20 mins)
Umney Theatre


Anna Novikov


From the end of February 2022, Russian forces were visualized by the mysterious letter Z appearing on military vehicles close to the Ukrainian border. Soon after the beginning of war, Z migrated by promotion from above and with support from below, from Russian tanks to Russian clothes, car stickers, logos and graffiti becoming a populist symbol supporting the war in Ukraine. It is not the first time that the Russian state supports fashion and performance as tools of propaganda. The message of clothing is created by merging global visual and media elements with local state propaganda. Patriotic apparel became fashionable and popularized by the state as an opposition to the “liberal” West. During the last two decades, Russian nationalist actors: designers, politicians and artists promote in social media the so called “traditional”, “Old-Russian” costumes for Russian patriots. This paper discusses the link between the Russian visual populist propaganda such as Z and patriotic clothes, promoted by the Russian new nationalist agencies and unifying patriotic audiences in the last two decades.