Balaclavas are having a moment, but it takes a very special balaclava to generate 50,000 likes.
Earlier this week, a tweet immortalizing a series of custom-made hoods, available for sale on Grailed, went viral. The post was quickly picked up by Instagram fashion accounts including Very Advanced, catapulting the tweet, its contents, and its maker — a user by the handle @themboydeerdog — to online infamy.
The creations are fully wacky, in a wonderful way. Essentially head coverings made from child-sized jackets by Moncler, The North Face, and Patagonia, the toppers feature eye cut-outs at the chest (which are, admittedly, far from symmetrical) and dangling sleeves that sit on the head like floppy ears.
A bit of online digging reveals that the balaclavas are the work of an emerging brand called Zimolot, an upcycling project started by Russian American designer Tikhon Larin, based in Maryland.
Larin currently sells the head-warmers and other handmade wares via oralarchive on Grailed, an account named after his second Instagram, which collects images of “pieces I enjoy,” as well as his own work.
Notably, Larin’s listings for the creative headgear boast a slew of comments, a rarity on Grailed. He’s even sold a few of the eye-catching pieces, proof that Zimolot has captured the internet’s attention, at least momentarily.
“Zimolot (Зимолот) is a word I created that is a combination of ‘zimo,’ winter, and ‘molot,’ hammer,” Larin told Highsobiety. “The idea of the brand is hammering and reconstructing old clothing into something new.”
“With the balaclavas, I was inspired by making the first one, the Patagonia,” Larin explained. “That happened by an accident of sorts… I was shopping for clothes and I thought people were already making these types of masks. I thought about a hoodie with bunny ears — the sleeves could be the ears.”
“I instantly knew seeing that jacket on a face would mess with peoples’ heads,” Larin added, a hunch that materialized into reality after he shared photos of the balaclavas online.
“As far as it going viral, I expected some type of reaction with The North Face [balaclava], but I did not predict for it to go this far,” Larin reflected, name-dropping the book Contagious by Jonah Berger.
“The book explains how something becomes viral: the perfect blend of familiarity and surprise. The North Face logo [fits into] this concept — [it’s] digestible, yet still shocking.”
As impractical as the balaclavas seem, no one else is designing headgear quite like Larin’s (an impressive feat, considering design’s tendency to make what’s old new again).
Any bets on how long it’ll take Ye to sport a Zimolot original?