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19 Pictures Of People Representing New York City In Russia

Todd Prince, a photographer based in Moscow, has spent the past year snapping Russians and their ubiquitous New York gear, as U.S.-Russia relations plunge ever lower.

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1. More and more people in Russia can be spotted wearing gear with logos, words, and branding tied to New York City, even if the love for their swag isn't tied to a love of the United States.

Todd Prince Photography / Via toddprincephotography.com

Andrei, 19, wears a Bronx, NYC sweater, as he sits with a friend at a Moscow park. He had just finished his mandatory army service.

2. That's the concept behind New York City-born photographer Todd Prince's series of portraits of people across Russia, which he's been working on for the last year.

Todd Prince Photography / Via toddprincephotography.com

Kolya, a engineer, crosses a pedestrian bridge behind Christ the Savior cathedral on a chilly Moscow autumn day sporting an NYC hat.

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3. Prince tells BuzzFeed News that he first got the idea for the project during the summer of 2013, when he saw four people in Moscow — where he lives — wearing Brooklyn-themed clothing in the span of five hours.

Todd Prince Photography / Via toddprincephotography.com

Yulia, dressed in a NYC shirt, leaves the rocky beach in Sochi at dusk. She said she was an architect and had worked on projects related to the Olympics, which Sochi hosted early last year. With post-Olympic work in Sochi coming to an end, she said she would be heading back soon to St Petersburg.

4. At the same time, Prince said, he was starting to see more and more people wearing American flags on their outfits around town.

Todd Prince Photography / Via toddprincephotography.com

Mikhail stands next to Lenin's Tomb on Red Square in his New York hat. Mikhail, who lives about 200km from Moscow, was in town to visit his sister. He said he is a member of a "stuntbike" team, which is soccer on motorbikes with the exception that the ball is much bigger.

5. "All this struck me and helped spur the idea because it was coming just as US-Russia relations were really souring over Syria and other issues," Prince wrote in an email.

Todd Prince Photography / Via toddprincephotography.com

Anton, 23, exits a Moscow metro station wearing a Bronx hat. He said he was an artist.

6. Prince first started taking photos for the series in 2014. The idea started small, maybe 10-15 photographs.

Todd Prince Photography / Via toddprincephotography.com

Denis, 25, is a cook in St. Petersburg. He grew up in Petrozavodsk north of St. Petersburg.

7. By the winter, when he began seeing more and more NY hats in public, he opted to expand to 30 portraits from across Russia's cities...

Todd Prince Photography / Via toddprincephotography.com

Sultan wearing his Bronx hat in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan.

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8. Then 100. As of press time, Prince has collected more than 140 portraits on his website.

Todd Prince Photography / Via toddprincephotography.com

Toma, in a black NYC shirt, works with a friend drawing temporary tattoos and braiding hair on the Sochi boardwalk. A hard rock fan, she said she grew up in Moscow, but moved with her family to Sochi, which has a large Armenian diaspora. She said she had Armenian heritage.

9. By this spring, Prince noticed an influx of New York Yankees hats, which surprised Prince, as baseball isn't popular in Russia at all. As few as five years ago, "anyone in a baseball-style cap was probably a foreigner. "

Todd Prince Photography / Via toddprincephotography.com

Sergei, 18, skateboards with friends in front of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg in his NY hat. When he isn't skating near the Hermitage, he is studying at a culinary school.

10. "When I asked some Russians about the ‘NY’ hat, they said to them it means the city of New York and not the Yankees," Prince explained. "Some didn’t even know that it was the emblem of a baseball team."

Todd Prince Photography / Via toddprincephotography.com

Alik was born in Kyrgyzstan, but followed his dad to the Russian island of Sakhalin because there are no jobs at home. He said he has Russian citizenship and dreams of buying a home on Sakhalin.

11. "What surprised me is that very few of the people wearing the New York hats or shirts have been to New York," Prince said. "They either bought them in Russia or in third countries like Italy, Thailand or Turkey."

Todd Prince Photography / Via toddprincephotography.com

Dasha and Lena sit on a bench under a big tree on an overcast day in the southern town of Stavropol, relaxing and chatting as their summer vacation nears its end. Lena, an economics student, said she bought her New York sweater while on vacation in Italy.

12. Many of the Russia residents he spoke to got their gear from the Moscow branches of stores like the Gap and H&M, or through local stores that specialize in foreign clothing.

Todd Prince Photography / Via toddprincephotography.com

Albert, a 3rd year economics student, works part-time as a salesman for Russian clothing chain 21Shop on Old Arbat. The chain sells a mixture of colorful Russian and foreign 'street style' clothing and accessories, including this schoolbag with 'Brooklyn' written on the straps

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13. "When Russians — or anyone else — are buying New York shirts in places like Milan or Istanbul — fantastic cities in their own right — then you know New York is a brand like Gucci, Adidas and not just a city. "

Todd Prince Photography / Via toddprincephotography.com

This man was hanging out at a tiny cafe in the center of Moscow. He said he moved there from Transnistria, a breakaway republic in Moldova, because he saw no future for himself there. He said he dreamed of a career in the music industry.

14. As for just why these people were wearing New York gear, Prince said that many told him it was their dream to visit New York. "When I asked why, they normally cite things like TV serials ‘Friends' or 'Sex in the City' or Hollywood films."

Todd Prince Photography / Via toddprincephotography.com

Jamshid (right) and his friend were both wearing New York hats while waiting for the Moscow metro. Natives of Uzbekistan, Jamshid wants to be a cop, his friend a photographer.

15. Almost uniformly, when they say "New York," they're talking about upscale Manhattan — not necessarily Brooklyn or the Bronx despite what their shirts and hats say.

Todd Prince Photography / Via toddprincephotography.com

This man said he bought the Brooklyn shirt because he liked the design, not the Brooklyn name. He was at Moscow's VDNKh Park.

16. Despite Russo-American relations being at a low-point, largely because of Russia's meddling in Ukraine, politics rarely came up in Prince's discussions with his subjects.

Todd Prince Photography / Via toddprincephotography.com

Alexei, wearing a NYC t-shirt, said his family's Moscow roots go back to the time of Ivan the Great in the 16th century.

17. "I have had conversations over the past year with several Russians who say they love American music, films and clothing, but dislike American foreign policy and politics," Prince said. "They separate culture and fashion from politics."

Todd Prince Photography / Via toddprincephotography.com

Anna was wearing a Harlem shirt as she walked with her boyfriend in Sochi. They had driven seven hours by car from the home town for the weekend.

18. "And if New York is viewed as a ‘brand,’ then it is even easier to make that separation." That said, you're still more likely to see a Russian wearing a shirt reading "Moscow" than "New York," despite the uptick in popularity.

Todd Prince Photography / Via toddprincephotography.com

Kristina walks her dog Torik late one summer night in Sochi. Kristina, who was wearing a NYC shirt, moved with her family from Omsk, an oil town in Siberia, to the Black Sea town of Sochi because of the better climate. Kristina said she is into music, including rap, and was proud to have recently met one of her favorite DJs. Kristina said she wants to be a DJ in New York or Miami.

19. So Prince keeps snapping photos, with the hopes of maybe one day showing them all in an exhibition in New York, to "show just ‘regular’ people living in Russia all connected by the New York clothing theme. "

Todd Prince Photography / Via toddprincephotography.com

Kseniya, a pop rock singer, wearing a Brooklyn Bridge shirt at the Nashestvie rock concert.

Hayes Brown is a world news editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Hayes Brown at hayes.brown@buzzfeed.com.

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