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Jun 19, 2022
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Import substitution in clothing has put the Russians in a dead end

A tempting promotion has been announced in one of the large department stores located near the Garden Ring: 25% off absolutely all Russian-made clothes. An excellent tactic: motivating with a ruble is always more effective than beautiful words. Here’s just a nuance: often the buyer may find that he, it turns out, acquires a suit sewn in his native Fatherland, only at the checkout. Import substitution is disguised very cleverly: the name of the company is written in Latin, the information on the sewn-in label is in several languages ​​​​at once … Only if you ask the seller whose production, you will hear: “This is Russia.”

At the beginning of June 2022, deputies of the State Duma of the Russian Federation announced their intention to prepare and submit for consideration a bill that would limit the use of foreign languages ​​on signs and advertising materials in Russia. As Elena Yampolskaya, one of the authors of the initiative, explains, this can be a significant step in the formation of a nationally oriented environment.

“Think about it, because each sign advertises and symbolizes some part of the lifestyle. A person gets the impression that you can take food and coffee with you, and get a haircut, and have fun, and you can buy something only under an English sign. All everyday life passes under the Latin alphabet, and our everyday existence seems to be not connected with the Cyrillic alphabet. I see in this disrespect for both the native country and the native language. Everything that we see around should testify: we live in Russia, we have our own language, our own culture and no inferiority complexes, ”explains the deputy.

However, the bill (the text has not yet been made public) should deal with additional information on advertising materials of foreign brands. There is one more issue that seriously worries those who care about the preservation of the Russian language – these are Russian brands that have chosen a Latin name for themselves.

The trend to name goods produced in Russia in a foreign language appeared in the 1990s: at that time, the goal of this tactic was to maximally distance oneself from negative associations with Soviet consumer goods and, as a result, distrust of domestic goods. Ever since almost any import in the USSR was in short supply, foreign-made things are perceived as of higher quality – and, although this prejudice is far from always justified, manufacturers look back at it.

Today, when the concept of “deficit” promises to return, this tactic is actively used. If a customer who doesn’t indulge in new clothes very often and doesn’t know much about brands enters a shopping center, he has every chance not to figure out right away: have foreign firms left the country or not? Here, please, the names – entirely in English: To be blossom, GATE31. Studio29, 12Storeez, Self-Made, Belle You… The names are unfamiliar to most buyers. And even more so it is not obvious that they are Russian.

– Many brands chose names in Latin for themselves at a time when the prospect of entering the European market, albeit with time, was real. That would be more convenient. Yes, you can argue: let’s say Italian brands have names in Italian, French – in French, and no one strives for universal English. However, there is a nuance: we have Cyrillic, says Polina Krasnodubtseva, marketing and advertising specialist. – It means that a foreign consumer simply cannot read the name in our native language! The same problem is in Greek or, for example, Georgian. Even French names, by the way, are often distorted: this language has a difficult pronunciation. No seller wants that!

According to the expert, foreign (more often English) names can also be in demand if the brand relies on the target audience, for which it is important to feel like cosmopolitans and feel part of a large multinational world. At the same time, it is possible that now, when trends are changing, and national self-consciousness is replacing cosmopolitanism, sellers can change tactics and rely on the domestic market and emphasize the idea of ​​import substitution. Moreover, over the past years, the attitude towards the domestic market has changed significantly.

– Whose production? – I ask the sales assistant, looking at a quite nice summer cotton dress.
– This is Yekaterinburg.
Why is the name Latin?
“Well… that’s just what they called it.

The same reaction – a bewildered shrug of the shoulders – awaits in 2-3 more shops. Why foreign name? Sounds nice. Intriguing. Attracts clients. Only in one of the accessories stores you hear an interesting story:

“Our name reflects the history of the brand. The owner named after his dog, and the dog, in turn, was named after a Greek goddess. Therefore, Latin, – says the consultant.

– We have always known what our brand should be called, and there is no foreign game here: we just came up with a name, yes, it is in English, and this is a stable expression. It seems to me that for people of our generation there is no longer a significant difference in what language the name is in, foreign languages ​​are now spoken and used much more actively than before, – said representatives of one of these stores, founded in St. Petersburg. They also added that they see no point in renaming, the sign will remain the same.

Another argument is the convenience of creating a website and social media accounts tailored to the Latin alphabet. Therefore, it is possible that new players in the market will open under the names in Russian – and soon we will have stores like “Scarlet Flower”, “Cherry” or “Krasa Rossii”. However, for now, a buyer who, for example, wants to purposefully support a domestic manufacturer, will first have to find it.

– As for writing simple Russian words in Latin letters, this, it seems to me, is a rather thoughtless trend. I have come across names like Kaftan or Sarafan, and I cannot call them successful. These words are primordially Russian, and here transliteration is not very appropriate and justified,” continues Krasnodubtseva. – If the brand is named after the founder, then writing your last name in Latin, provided that there are no plans to enter a foreign market, is also pointless. Today, the opposite is true: a name in Russian can help you stand out in the market and attract additional attention.

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