Andrius Sergejenko, a tailor from Kaunas, spreads the name of the city with exceptional handmade suits of a classical English style: The Savile Row student counts customers who value his work and have an exquisite taste all around the world.
Differently but no less effectively the name of Kaunas is spread by the designer Rita Kazokaitė Kaupelienė with her unique bright-colored T-shirt project designed to commemorate modern Kaunas art, and to show the city to foreign guests in a completely different way.
“After learning the sewing craft in his hometown Kaunas, Andrius went to London to gain experience. When he returned to Kaunas, he opened his own sewing studio, which became a place that attracts people who love elegance not only from Lithuania but also from all over Europe,” this is how the Second-Generation Master Tailor Andrius Sergejenko was presented in the latest issue of the FORBES Romanian magazine “Life”. The article was named symbolically: “Sewing lessons from Kaunas”.
Photo: Personal archive.
Indeed, the only full member of the London Savile Row Tailor Guild in Lithuania, the master of a traditional English bespoke suit, Andrius Sergejenko was able to conquer the hearts of customers around the world and made Kaunas an attractive destination of people who value hand-made suits. Together with his wife Kristina Kalinauskaitė, a designer of women’s clothes from Kaunas, he has created the brand “Kristi Andress”, and in 13 years of activity, it has won the hearts of fans both in Lithuania and beyond.
A tailor traveling around the world
Andrius calculates that about 30 percent of his production is sent abroad. Most often, it is hand-made, high value-added garments that are not mass-produced but customized individually for each client.
The biggest impact on reaching foreign markets is the connections that have been made during 5 years of intensive work and studies in London, where Andrius Sergejenko learned the subtleties of bespoke tailoring at the famous Savile Row.
According to Andrius, the principle of his work could be called a “traveling tailor”: each month or two he must go to his clients, take measurements, and return to Kaunas.
“How important are foreign clients to my business? I think I could be fully satisfied with the Lithuanian and Latvian markets. But the principle of a traveling tailor is attractive and unique, because it gives you the opportunity to get away from everyday life, travel, gain a different experience. It becomes a great stimulus to create,” admits the master from Kaunas.
A suit as an author’s work
Andrius works with famous Lithuanian art and business people as well as with foreign clients. A high-quality suit is an integral part of their everyday life, so they tend to purchase several when buying a wardrobe.
Photo: Andrius Sergejenko, Kristina Kalinauskaite. L’Officiel Lithuania.
“People who have tried and have the possibility to wear a bespoke suit tend to stick with it. Of course, it takes much more time to make, such garment is much more individualized, tailor-made to a specific human body: in this case, we are not talking just about a garment, but a piece of author’s work with high added-value,” says the suit designer.
When asked what his biggest competitors are, Andrius thinks for a while and then says, “I am! In this work, it is very important to be able to win the heart of the client, create the piece that a person needs today, as well as to understand the needs and interests of the personality that you are dealing with. It is the biggest challenge”.
According to Andrius, both in England and in London in particular, there is a lot of competition, but even in that market, it is possible to find your own place.
“I think I have polished my image and it is recognized by the client,” says Andrius, whose suits are worn by customers from all around the world including London, Dubai, South Africa, Germany, China, Holland, USA, Russia, and Armenia.
Unique symbols of the city
Meanwhile, the artist and designer Rita Kazokaitė Kaupelienė sends the message about Kaunas through T-shirts that attracted the attention of many foreign guests. She presents T-shirts decorated with the most famous street art drawings of Kaunas.
“Once I received an order to create a souvenir shirt with Lithuanian attributes. I soon realized that besides Vytis, tricolor, and Žalgiris that are used everywhere we do not have modern objects or symbols of popular culture. So, when I saw the booklet “Wallographer’s Notes” published by Kaunas IN, I immediately realized: these drawings should look great on clothes and spread the message about modern symbols of Kaunas!” R. Kazokaitė Kaupelienė, the fashion design lecturer at VMU and Kaunas University of Applied Sciences, recalls the birth of the idea.
Working together, the artists from Kaunas turned the idea into a real product: a collection decorated with modern Kaunas symbols.
“For me, this collection is like a game that offers you to stay humble and notice fun coincidences: we can replace “Adidas” with Ernest Zacharevich’s drawing “Untitled” which pictures three stripes and the children climbing through them in the Šv. Gertrūdos g.; the sign of “Versace”, the head of a Greek mythological creature, can be replaced by the Fluxus Aztec with a flicked tongue taken from a single square in the world that cannot be accessed. The artwork “The Wise Old Man” is loved by many people and has become a symbol of Kaunas city. In addition, Kaunas is also a city of love for many: this is represented by the pink elephant. Already on its way to the collection is the longest Lithuanian word written on the dullest building in Kaunas: nebeprisikiškiakopūstėliaujantiesiems (meaning something like “particularly for those who never pick up enough shamrocks for themselves”). Maybe we will teach tourists to pronounce it? Besides, reading the print on clothes will be even more fun!”
Fashion that invites you to recognize and get to know
Rita has won a prestigious “RedDot Award” and she has no doubt that such new symbols and their presentation are a way to show that we are patriots of our city and ambassadors of our street art culture.
“When the first models appeared, we immediately got comments and questions: what a great drawing! Where is it!? In order to avoid such questions, the spring/summer collection comes with an address on the T-shirt: it shows where you can find the featured object, the name of the artwork, the year of creation and the author,” says the author of the project.
According to Rita, foreigners really like that the shirts are not only colourful and attractive but also have their own story to tell. The residents of Kaunas living abroad are especially interested in the collection: they are happy to buy these clothes and tell others about their city and its objects.
“I want to believe that this is just the beginning, and we will put even more beautiful artworks on clothes that will be enjoyed by both Kaunas residents and city guests,” says Rita Kazokaitė-Kaupelienė.