How Ukrainian Female Designers are Responding to the Military Invasion

The Ukrainian female designers will not participate in international financial sanctions against Russia

The unthinkable happened within a matter of hours. Russia’s President Putin’s troops invaded the sovereign country on all four sides, took control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, and started attacking Kyiv, claiming that they only targeted “military objectives”. Thousands of civilians took the safe decision of fleeing the country, while others took refuge underground for the night as bomb threats continued. Ukrainian female designers and elite models’ families were among these people.

This uncertainty has not derailed the activity of the national design industry, which saw a good handful of designers participating in New York Fashion Week and has already set the dates for the Kyiv Art & Fashion Days festival scheduled for next May. The reality is that the threat of war looks different from the inside after your country has suffered violence over the Euromaidan protests, Russia invade Crimea, and witnessed the proclamation of independence in the pro-Russian regions of Donestk and Lugansk throughout just this last decade.

To keep moving forward despite adversity is in addition to being the leitmotif that characterizes the Ukrainian population’s power of resilience a sentiment shared by most of the brands and Ukrainian female designers.

According to the sources, Lilia Litkovskaya’s brand has successfully survived several major crises in 2004, 2008, and the beginning of the war in 2014. She believed they have developed an immunity to such crises and will be able to cope with the current circumstances,” expressed the founder of the eponymous brand, confided within a few days as she prepared her Paris Fashion Week presentation and finalized her collections for retailers in France, the United Kingdom, the United States, and China.

At the beginning of the week, the artisanal tailoring brand was still going about its business as usual. Imports and exports had not yet been affected by the “crisis” and international sales continued, although local sales were beginning to be affected and those from Kazakhstan had decreased given the “political turbulence”.

Designer Irina Dzhus had also planned on showcasing her avant-garde and concept brand Dzhus in the French capital. The uncertainty has already influenced their strategic decisions, after opting for a digital presentation in Paris as opposed to a physical wholesale showroom the designer has commonly organized in previous seasons. They, as a niche and independent brand, the organizational expenses would have been significant, whereas it is their current priority to save more financial resources for unpredicted situations, fearing that the current political climate could reduce the interest in Ukrainian female designers from international partners. If the situation changes for the worse, affecting supply channels and the safety of the manufacturing process, the orders might not be completed, and considering the force-majeure circumstances, the clients might not be refunded for the failed operations.

The calm attitude was also shared by the brand, Kachorovska, despite everything that is happening, they have to stay focused and continue with their lives. Spreading awareness about the war, buying products made in Ukraine, supporting volunteers and the Ukrainian army, and informing at all levels are necessities just like air, which, between February 21 and 25, presented its collections at the Archetype Showroom in New York, along with five other Ukrainian brands: 91 Lab, Chereshnivka, Elena Burenina, Paskal, and Frolov.

Ivan Frolov rightfully insisted that, even though the perception of the situation by the local community and the international spectators is “definitely different,” he felt the support outside his country’s borders. The main thing is that the international audience tries to get into this situation deeper than ever before. People show huge amounts of support and increase international awareness of what’s happening in Ukraine. And this is vital for them, to convey the brand’s founder and creative director, awareness of the foreign view of Ukrainian female designers as a “high-risk” market.

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