Over the years, Louis Tomlinson has honed his style into a recognizable aesthetic that's popular among fans and fashion critics alike. He easily mixes vintage sportswear with luxury high-end pieces to create a unique blend of minimalism punctuated with personality. His looks convey an effortless swagger. For lack of a better word, Louis Tomlinson is cool.
There's a few brands Louis has a long history with, but perhaps none more so than infamous Russian designer Gosha Rubchinskiy. Louis regularly dons Gosha's unique sportswear-inspired clothes both onstage and as casual wear. One look at the designer's body of work, and it's easy to see where Louis finds inspiration in his activewear and collaborations.
Gosha's designs draw, in part, on the cultural archive of his Russian heritage, particularly the transitional 90s. However, his collections most strongly focus on Russia's post-Soviet youth culture. His work is about capturing and sharing the energy of the youth; he uses them as a muse to create the "authentic yet rough" aesthetic he is known for. Says Gosha, "the youth are like Litmus paper that reflect what happens in music, politics, and culture".
Gosha describes his clothes as "inherently political" - a movement and a culture, rather than just an aesthetic. This is a sentiment Louis emphasizes in his music as well. The lyric video for 2017's "Just Like You", for example, is rife with references to feminism, the LGBTQ+ community, the Black Lives Matter movement, the Harvey Weinstein scandals, and mental health.
Gosha constantly transcends his infamous gritty, tough aesthetic through boundary-pushing collaborations with major brands and fashion houses - Kappa, Comme des Garçons, and Burberry to name just a few. Louis initially stuck to Gosha's activewear pieces - influenced by skate culture, and reminiscent of the Vans tees & snapbacks that were Louis' wardrobe staples on tour with One Direction.
Gosha has branched out in his collections and collaborations, but his clothes continue to suit Louis' diverse style. Louis still steps out in Gosha's trademark sportswear - fittingly designed, according to Gosha, "to pay respects to the football heritage the British instituted". But Louis also doesn't shy away from more sophisticated silhouettes, like a Rubchinskiy denim bomber jacket, or a Harrington coat in Burberry's classic check print.
Gosha Rubchinskiy unquestionably leads fashion's youth-powered counterculture, and Louis Tomlinson does the same through his music. Both of them encourage individuality and self-expression in the face of resistance. It makes sense that Louis consistently chooses to support a like-minded designer.
Gosha's design philosophy is perhaps best described in a quote from Vogue - one that could just as easily apply to Louis himself:
And that’s, essentially, the message: There was a lot of spunk and grit—pride, really—in this work, and it was well-earned.
Next time you see Louis Tomlinson performing in a football jersey emblazoned with Cyrillic text, odds are that he's continuing to represent Gosha Rubchinskiy and, by extension, his inspirational crusade to "tell the truth of youth" above all else.
Special thanks to the team at LT Fashion Archive for sourcing Louis' clothing.