29 MARCH, 2024
This season we present joint work with Yuya Kobayashi, the founder of RIFATTO Atelier and a prominent Japanese boro and sashiko master in Japan. Being passionate about vintage military clothing, we provided Mr. Kobayashi with something that is rarely found in the land of the rising sun — 1980s Soviet "Afghanka" uniform. Remaking them, Yuya created three unique pieces of clothing filled with a pacifist message and wabi-sabi philosophy. In this article we present you a detailed review of our collaboration.
The war in Afghanistan was a test not only for Soviet equipment and tactics, but also for uniforms. In those days, the USSR was preparing for a major conflict in Europe, sharpening everything, including equipment, for the task. The USSR tactics of the 1970s implied that soldiers went to the attacks after artillery, and all property and provisions were supposed to be transported by vehicles. And uniforms corresponded to such tasks. But the Afghan war was different.
Soldiers had to walk a lot of time where the equipment could not pass, and all the property, including food, warm clothes, sleeping bags and appliances, had to be always carried with them. By the way, in a similar situation were American soldiers in Vietnam, but they were quickly adapted equipment. There were boots suitable for the jungle climate, tropical uniforms, moisture-resistant equipment made of nylon, giant backpacks, and so on.

Therefore, the Soviet uniforms were also adapted and improved. First of all, the new uniform was issued to troops in Afghanistan, so in the USSR it was nicknamed "Afghanka". Although in Afghanistan itself it was called "experimentalka". And they called it that for a reason. Compared to the previous uniform of 1969, "Afghanka" was characterized by a lot of advantages. For the first time the Soviet field uniform received flat plastic buttons, instead of voluminous metal ones. And they were also closed with a bar. Thanks to this buttons were lost less often, because they did not rub against all sorts of obstacles during crawling.
The summer jacket was equipped with 4 convenient pockets with flaps. A similar design, by the way, was found on the American BDU uniform. But the "Afghan" tunic differed in the presence of two patch pockets on the sleeves, as well as a built-in internal drawstring to adjust the tightness of fit. The areas of elbows, which were subjected to the most wear and tear, were reinforced with an oval layer of fabric.

The pants were also somewhat similar to the BDU. In addition to belt loops, the waist area was equipped with side buttoned flaps for "quick" size adjustment. On the sides there were spacious pockets, and the knee area was reinforced with knee pads (yes, Double Knee) for more comfortable and safe crawling. The pants were also distinguished by a strictly "Soviet" detail — stitched pleats in the front. Most likely, they were made to give the silhouette a parade look.
Since 1984, the "afghanka" was made of two types of fabric: article 3303 aka "h/b" — cotton-paper version, which breathed well, but quickly lost its original color, making the soldier visible against the background of deserts, and article 3155 aka "steklyashka" — less breathable, but more wear-resistant material due to the use of synthetic fibers, which got its characteristic name due to the factory shine (the shine, by the way, was lost after a couple or three washes).

For our collaboration with RIFATTO we selected several tunics and pants from the 1980s, made of both "h/b" and "steklyashka".
Yuya Kobayashi: "When I first saw vintage Soviet military clothing, I felt it was different from military clothing from other countries. It had a simpler image. I wanted to create a new story for these vintage military clothes by using my specialty of remaking old Japanese fabrics by stitching.
These pants are simple in construction and I found that very beautiful. I imagined that these pants had become ragged with age, and I imagined that they were repaired by Japanese people. Repairing with old Japanese fabric by applying stitches.
Yuya Kobayashi: "By creating this vest, I imagined the fabric becoming ragged with age. For his vest I also used U.S. Army tent fabric. The pockets are made from Russian "Afghanka" fabrics. USA and Russia are opposing countries, but I wanted to combine their military rags and put them through my remake filter to create something meaningful and beautiful that is pacific!

Also, I pray that all people find flowers beautiful. I believe that flowers are beautiful not only when they are in full bloom, but also when they are in bud and in the process of withering away".
Yuya Kobayashi: "I created the base of this jacket by patchworking various Soviet military fabrics. Instead of reconstructing it like a military uniform, we made it into a jacket that can be worn today".
The main feature of this piece is the "Bomb Boro" technique, which Mr. Kobayashi does not use very often. According to technique, he combines and stitches together rags in a special way, and then processes them to achieve a unique pattern whose appearance is snappy with the explosion of a bomb. It seems that this coat is the most time-consuming piece of Bomb Boro technique that Mr. Kobayashi has created in recent years.
"This "Bomb Boro" was a technique used before the conflict between Russia and Ukraine began.

After it started, we received some messages of condemnation from people who were offended by the naming of this jacket.

The reason why we dared to use "Bomb Boro" on this jacket is because we wanted to engrave the story of what was lost and broken during the conflict", — Yuya Kobayashi, RIFATTO Atelier.
The new GRADE capsule, which will include a collaboration with RIFATTO, will be released on March 31.
29 March, 2024