Almaty Designer Combines Love of Business, Textiles and Country

ALMATY – Almaty resident Andrey Tkachenko is not only a famous designer and the artistic director of the Andres fashion salon, he is also one who has used his talents to contribute to the development of his country.

As a newly independent Kazakhstan was forming after gaining independence in 1991 from the former Soviet Union, Tkachenko was called upon to design the official uniforms of defense and law enforcement bodies, the financial police, the judiciary and other state bodies. He also developed the manufacturing technology used in the production of flags for Kazakhstan’s various branches of the armed forces.

His technique involving the use of textiles to depict the images on military shoulder straps is also widely used and he played an active part in designing the country’s athletic uniforms for the Asian Games.

His contribution to the images of modern Kazakhstan is evident in the numerous letters of thanks and commendation from city and regional officials, as well as the Border Security Service that cover his office walls.

In 1987, he organized Almaty’s first youth cooperative, called Silhouette, in which the students of Almaty College of Light Industry could make money. Later, Tkachenko and a friend opened Almaty’s first private clothing store and presented his first design collection at the school where his business partner’s wife worked.

“When did I realize the need to open my own business? After a trip to the Exhibition of Economic Achievements in Moscow in 1984, when I was 22 years old,” Tkachenko said. “In addition to literacy and moral satisfaction, I got nothing. But I realized that in material terms it was useless to hope and rely on the state. I had to somehow change the situation.

“This was during the period when private business, in a truncated form and narrowly regulated by the state, was just beginning to emerge. I shudder to remember, but at that time the initiative of a man who wanted to make his living was suppressed by administrative regulations. For example, my neighbours reported to the police that I sewed at home. … How everything has changed since then,” he recalled.

The fifty-year-old entrepreneur with a ready smile recalled the impromptu trip to China many years ago that encouraged him to open his business.

“In 1990, when I went on a new bus route to China having in my pocket one hundred US dollars, I did not know what to expect from this trip. But the voyage was a success. I bought two overlock machines with the money I had, without which no tailoring can work, and sold them at home,” he recalled.

He continued to sell sewing equipment and save the profits to buy real estate in order to open a salon and finally do what he enjoys – the textile business.

Tkachenko says both he and his country have come a long way since those early days.

“We must give proper respect to the leadership of our country, who in those days, just as we, businessmen, were in a similar situation. They did not know what laws should be adopted and how to properly bring the country to a market economy. Everything was done empirically; laws were adopted just-in-time. But nevertheless Kazakhstan quickly and logically has built its legislative system to support the initiatives of entrepreneurs.”