Modern Moscow Souvenirs: Alternatives To Matryoshka Dolls And Soviet Trash

Here’s a paradox: in the rich and diverse city of Moscow–legendary, scandalous, the main city of world news–there is no souvenir industry. It is even embarrassing that all the tourists that rushed to Moscow with renewed vigor after infamous recent events have nothing to take away from here. And we, in turn, have nothing with which to surprise our foreign friends and relatives. Matryoshka dolls and retro Soviet stuff obviously don’t work anymore.

On the eve of approaching holidays, Moskvaer has made sure that you won’t have to give your friends and family Russian balalaikas as gifts, and has found a couple of decent alternatives to boring traditional souvenirs.

For street art fans

Posters of Moscow’s famous graffiti team, “Zachem!”.


Well, first of all, “Zachem!” is a group of cult guys who have decorated a slew of Moscow walls with their artwork and made a significant contribution to the development of the Russian graffiti movement. Secondly, a series of works called “Zachem champion” is an exclusive piece. Stylish quadriptych was released in a limited edition of 18 pieces, with each work being numbered and signed. I’m telling you, that’s far from your standard matryoshkas.

Thus, the series consists of four unique prints with the author’s stamps on hand-dyed Italian cotton paper. Four pieces together constitute a unique composition with a single background.

However, it costs a lot. The most affordable prices, which I could find, are offered by the online store “Format Odin“. One poster can be purchased for 15,000 rubles (~ $ 215 as of today’s exchange rate, December 21st 2015), and the entire series of four prints will cost you 40,000 rubles.

Here’s a comparison: A VIP-Matryoshka including seven dolls made at the Kirov factory. Price–9,500 rubles (~ $ 136).


Got it?

For practical people

Sweatshirts by Heart of Moscow printed with a traffic controller on the Red Square.

Heart Of Moscow is a young souvenir brand that is trying to move away from Soviet-type templates and offers to a modern audience such gizmos that will not just collect dust in your IKEA boxes, but will serve the cause–will be worn, used and, certainly, will remind you of Moscow very gently.

Out of the whole range I chose the sweatshirt with a picture of the traffic controller on the Red Square. In my opinion, it is quite nice and even wearable stuff. It costs 3,250 rubles. If you want to save money, take a similar t-shirt for 1,500 rubles.

The online store also has different canvas bags, badges, books and passports covers and a number of traditional forms of souvenirs.

For topographic geniuses

Maps of Moscow by Yuri Gordon.

Yuri Gordon is a Russian guru of fontography, author of the bestseller about the modern Russian alphabet “Book of Letters from Aa to Яя” at Lebedev Studio.

Gordon has created very interesting maps of Moscow: “My Moscow”, where interesting, funny and memorable, but all as one – fictional – places of the city are put within the Garden Ring; and “Literary Moscow”, where a geographically accurate map of the city is marked with more than two hundred quotations from literature. For the literary map of Moscow, Gordon used more than one hundred original fonts created by his own studio Letterhead.

Both cards are issued in multiple formats on multiple types of paper. The literary map has been released in limited edition. The cost of cards varies from 1,500 to 4,000 rubles, depending on the format. Options can be viewed at the Republic or Shaltay-Boltay stores.

For fans of Vladimir Putin, or just for fun

Clothing with a picture of Vladimir Putin from the collection of modern Russian brand Anyavanya, “Vsyo putyom” are loved by Muscovites. The line was timed to come out on Putin’s birthday, so on that day in GUM you could see a huge line of people hoping to buy a t-shirt or sweatshirt with a presidential print. There are different variants: a strict Putin in black glasses, smiling Putin, Putin on horseback, Putin wearing a military jacket and the phrase “The most polite among humans” printed–the designers have covered almost all possible incarnations of the president.

To be frank, I personally believe that all these options can be better souvenirs from Moscow than any Soviet junk, which fill the flea markets. “Sovok” is the past, my friends. In modern Moscow, whether we like it or not, there are new trends, new cults and damn it, new artifacts.

About Yana141 Articles
Journalist by education, barstool philosopher by heart. Moskvaer. Rebel. Frustrated hedonist.

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