Name: Ruslan Baginskiy
Hometown: Lviv, Ukraine
Now Lives: With his mother in Kyiv, Ukraine, while his two-bedroom apartment undergoes renovation.
Claim to Fame: Mr. Baginskiy is a luxury hatmaker for today’s “It” girls and Instagram stars, best known for his hard-brimmed baker boy caps in wool felts, nubby tweeds and other handcrafted materials. If John Boyd (Princess Diana’s famed milliner) had needed a social media savvy protégée, Mr. Baginskiy, who started working on his hats in college, would have been an ideal candidate.
Big Break: Three years ago, while Mr. Baginskiy’s hats were just a blip on the Instagram scene, he direct messaged model Bella Hadid. To his delight, Ms. Hadid responded and referred him to her stylist, Elizabeth Sulcer, who requested samples. Shortly after, Ms. Hadid wore his cherry red baker boy hat to a New York Fashion Week dinner party for V magazine. The party photographers went wild, Mr. Baginskiy recalled. He struck Instagram gold again when he reached out to Kaia Gerber’s team. Ms. Gerber wore a similar chapeau after walking in a Calvin Klein show. He’s been fashion catnip ever since: His hats have been spotted on Madonna, Janelle Monáe and Gigi Hadid. “Social media changed the rules of the game,” Mr. Baginskiy said.
Latest Project: While his hats are currently sold on Net-a-Porter and Moda Operandi, Mr. Baginskiy wants to focus on getting his collection into physical stores. His hats will be available later this year at Antonia in Milan, Harrods in London and Holt Renfrew across Canada. “I love the idea of making special limited drops of styles, like how they do with sneakers,” he said.
Next Thing: After showing for the first time at Paris couture week last year, Mr. Baginskiy plans to return this July. “We’re about bringing back the culture of wearing hats,” he said. “It’s about how it can be cool and how you can show your unique style.”
Family Affair: Mr. Baginskiy prefers making his hats the old-world way. “In Lviv, there weren’t hat makers that were making the styles I wanted, so I found two small studios of old women and I studied with them.” These days, Mr. Baginskiy employs his entire family and his mother is head of production. “It’s really important to me to keep the production in Ukraine,” he said. “It’s about employing the local people. But it’s also about showing to the world the style and culture of Ukraine.”