Fashion has no borders. It sounds like a cliché, but we at Because believe in the borderless unity this industry brings to the table – and the power of its global nature. So, instead of being separated by customs and walls, we decided to unite the talent from around the world by creating a Because Passport – a land to which the only visa requirements are talent and creativity. The first eight citizens to hold their Because Passport are the finalists of this year’s LVMH Prize, with the first one being the Russian-born Maria Kazakova of the NYC-based brand JAHNKOY.

One of the freshest faces in this year’s shortlist, Kazakova is a recent graduate of Parsons’ New School of Design. Her graduate collection shown as part of the school’s MFA catwalk show was a showstopping one. The message behind the contemporary tribal looks proposed unity, all while re-working second-hand sportswear, fast fashion garments, knockoffs and found materials. Incredibly intricate and almost couture-like in their craftsmanship, JAHNKOY designs celebrate the message while being relevant both from a social and a style perspective. If the expression “new kind of streetwear” was ever appropriate, it’s in the context of JAHNKOY.

JAHNKOY's latest collection titled The Displaced: Crafting Revolution photographed by Delphine Diallo

Here’s Maria Kazakova’s Because Passport application:

FULL NAME: Maria Vadimovna Kazakova

DATE & PLACE OF BIRTH: July 30 1988 in Novokuzneck, South-western Siberia,Russia

BRAND: JAHNKOY (menswear/unisex)

BRAND’S DATE & PLACE OF BIRTH: It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact moment, but the brand’s first collection was presented in September 2016 through the Parsons’ graduate show.


What are the places in NYC and Siberia we need to visit and why?

Trinidadian Royal Bakery on Nostrand Avenue for Doubles [a traditional Trinidadian sandwich], and Sheregesh to ride around the mountains.

Siberian or NYC food?

I prefer Russian food, it’s more natural – fruit still has seeds.

Favourite word in Russian/English:

МИР [mir]. It’s a very strong word in Russian which means both world and peace. I believe our world must be peace, just like it’s one word in Russian.

Do you feel more like a New York or a Russian designer?

I feel like an artist, and art has no boundaries.

Is the feeling of belonging to a place/nation important to you?

I belong to the Earth, the Creation. Other borders are man-made.


Follow Jahnkoy through Instagram at The finale of the LVMH Award is being held on June 16 at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris. Find out more about the finalists at

Text by Dino Bonacic; images by Delphine Diallo