It’s been six months since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine is fighting for freedom and unity, defending the values of democracy and resisting Russian aggression in all possible ways. Every citizen of Ukraine adjusted their life, work, and business to help the country and financially support its fight for freedom.
At the same time, business owners are trying to stay afloat and create jobs to fill the Ukrainian budget with taxes as much as possible, even under bombardment and to the sound of constant alarm sirens. The fashion industry is no exception.
Despite the fact that a significant part of garment factories are located in regions affected by the war, Ukrainian designers are trying to reconfigure their companies and relocate equipment to other regions. Designers are donating to the army, creating special collections dedicated to Ukraine, and supporting the country’s creative scene in these difficult times.
In time for Ukrainian Independence Day is coming up on August 24, we round up our favorite Ukrainian brands worthy of your follow and support.
Better is an upcycling-focused brand founded by Julie Pelipas, a stylist and former fashion director of Vogue Ukraine. All items are one-of-a-kind and usually collections are quite small. Every piece is reworked, sourced locally from Ukraine’s thriving vintage scene.
During the war, Pelipas and her team turned the brand’s website into a platform to help the Ukrainian creative industry find jobs and shelters. Via the platform you can hire designers, photographers, videographers, graphic designers, artists, and other creatives, who are now scattered throughout Ukraine, Europe, and beyond, as well as donate money for their needs. Clothes are not currently available on the site, but keep an eye out. Originally from occupied Mariupol, Pelipas herself is actively involved in educational activities and informing her wide audience about what is happening in Ukraine.
World-renown Kyiv-based headwear and accessory designer Ruslan Baginskiy’s hats are worn by all the major celebrities. He’s turned his brand’s Instagram page into an educational channel on Ukraine, and released a special drop of two blue and yellow baseball caps. The national color of Ukraine has become “a symbol of freedom, courage, bravery and determination.” All brand production is located in Ukraine and continues to work and support 80 employees.
Baginskiy has already raised more than a million UAH (Ukrainian hyrvnia currency). All funds from the sale of this drop will be transferred to the Sergiy Prytula Fund, which helps the Armed Forces of Ukraine. “Be brave like Ukraine,” Baginskiy says.
KSENIASCHNAIDER was founded by Ksenia and Anton Schnaider in 2011. The brand is based around using upcycled materials, especially denim. In 2016, they released Demi-denims — jeans that immediately became an Instagram and street style sensation. Each reworked item is individually assembled and is one-of-a-kind.
Since the beginning of the war, the 30-person team has been forced to leave Kyiv and put the production on pause. On the brand’s website, you can support them through cards for five, 50 and 500 Euro. These cards will be converted into gift certificates after the war. Their website also provides information on how to help the Ukrainian army and children.
Anton Belinskiy is a well-known avant-garde designer who was shortlisted for the LVMH Prize this year. Belinskiy takes his inspiration from activewear, the club scene, and Ukrainian traditions.
Since the beginning of the war, his studio has re-specialized into sewing thermal underwear, balaclavas, and other necessary items of clothing for the Ukrainian army. Belinsky also dropped a long sleeve in purple flowers with a photo of President Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife Olena holding their daughter, happy and smiling. Proceeds from the sale of the long sleeve go towards helping Ukraine.
In addition to supporting the defense efforts in the country, Belinskiy collaborated with 032c to launch the Free Ukraine T-shirt that sold out within an hour.
Our own Visual Editor Tetiana Khvorostiana’s favorite designer, Svitlana Bevza, has been a pioneer in the Ukrainian fashion industry for more than a decade. A few weeks before the war, her Fall/Winter 2022 collection debuted at New York Fashion Week, and the acclaimed designer is set to present her new collection on the NY runway once again this September.
The most important symbols of Ukrainian culture and tradition can be found throughout Bevza’s collections, such as jewelry inspired by the wheat fields of Ukraine, balaclavas dedicated to Olha who reigned Kyivan Rus, and the brand’s standout knitwear taking from artisanal Ukrainian traditions and are focused on female strength and power of will.
O(FourFour) is a sustainable swimwear brand based in Kyiv that gets inspiration from natural forms and objects. It uses regenerated ECONYL, a plastic waste-recycled ocean material.
One of its latest collections created during the full-scale war is VODODIL (or “the watershed,” the translation of the Ukrainian word, вододіл), a drop inspired by Ukrainian water – rivers like Bug, Ingul, Dnipro, Oril, Tisa, Vorskla, Prut, and Synevyr. The water area of Ukraine is picturesque and deep in every possible sense, and the brand wanted to show it to the whole world.
Bibliotheque is a women’s clothing brand created by Nika Malyikhina. The brand offers eco-leather dresses, coats, and woolen suits. The garments are made from natural fabrics and are sewn in small batches. The brand has a distinctive feminine and elegant aesthetic.
Malyikhina organized a studio and showroom space in Kyiv, where you also can buy stuff from other local designers and creativities. The brand’s team stayed in Kyiv and you can get there by appointment as well as order online. 30% of the profits go to the needs of the Ukrainian army.
Young bag designer Zamiatina Olha founded the Zinka’s Bags brand just a year ago, striving to express herself and embody her love for bags. The designer sews all items independently and is developing the brand gradually. She recently released the first upcycled collection of handbags made from shirts. 50% of the brand’s profits go to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Broq is a jewelry brand created by Anna Kharabuha in Kyiv. The designer is creating stunning jewelry fully by hand, using silver and gold. Each unique piece is carefully crafted and designed to be very wearable. The aim was to create minimal pieces, “not the shiny brightness of novelty, but the scratches that history gives” — according to Kharabuha — making them truly unique. Broq is inspired by the power that comes with the understanding of the uncertainty and constant change, the “cosmos — chaotic and magnificent.”
Shur Shur is a Ukrainian stocking brand founded with the aim to revive the tradition of wearing stockings in everyday life: in any weather, for any occasion, at any age, and in any style. The brand was created in 2018 by Anei Savchuk. It now offers selected pieces at a special price, and the money raised are donated to @spunbond.fond, who in turn purchase devices for children’s hospitals.
Basny Rugs was created by a musician Volodymyr Benedychuk, who moved from Kyiv to the Carpathian Mountains and was inspired by the local “hutsults” traditions. He stayed in the village of Yavoriv, which is the region’s center for rug production. Benedychuk rethought the idea of traditional Carpathian aesthetics and modern art using traditional hutsul technology in production.
Artist Yaroslava Savvina discovered knitting as an anti-stress activity during the global pandemic in 2020, and immediately caught the attention of local fashionistas. The hobby has grown into a business, and she creates sweaters, skirts, shorts, and more in soft jerseys. Most of them have inscriptions with names of musicians and bands like Sex Pistols, Coil, The Smiths, and different symbols and signs.
This Kyiv-based eyewear brand deeply believes in the richness of Ukraine’s nature and strong connection with the Earth. According to its founders, Max Havrylenko and Akim Karpach, the glasses are made of fully sustainable materials such as coffee and flower petals that grow in Ukrainian fields, like sunflowers, marigolds, and cornflowers. Not only are they great to look at, but they also feel comfortable to wear.
Kyiv-based Unmere founder Margarita Protasevych says that the brand is a tool that helps create individual identity with garments made of the finest materials such as silk, wool, Japanese denim, metal, and shells. The garments Protasevych creates are ready to get mixed and matched, and enables the wearer to experiment with the creative process.
Ali Saulidi is a shoe and accessories designer who launched his brand in 2010. He produces handmade shoes that stick to minimalism, constructivism, and functionalism. Before the war, he had a studio in Kyiv with a manufacturing showroom and laboratory for technological experiments. After the invasion, he relocated it to Western Ukraine and put all resources into the development and manufacture of tactical footwear for the defenders of Ukraine.
His shop is currently unavailable, but you can support him with a donation and keep following his activity.
PIECEOFSHIRT is a local brand from the capital of Ukraine that sells bootleg T-shirts.
Originally, PIECEOFSHIRT started back in 2017 with a store that sold vintage T-shirts of all kinds. After the start of the war, it started releasing T-shirts that feature reworked logos of Aphex Twin and Stone Island – having “Stolen Island” (aka Crimea) and Україна (“Ukraine”) printed on them.
PIECEOFSHIRT also donates half of its funds collected from sales to the Kyiv Angels volunteer organization that helps with humanitarian needs in the Donetsk, Mykolaiv, and Kharkiv regions.