Fashion and solidarity come together to support Ukraine
Six weeks have passed since the beginning of the Russian invasion in Ukraine. The world is gradually discovering the atrocity of the crimes perpetrated in the Bucha region. The number of massacred civilians is still unknown, but both international pressures and concerns for the city of Mariupol have increased. In the face of the brutality, the Ukrainian resistance is also taking effect outside its borders and support initiatives are multiplying, including in the fashion and luxury industries, which have seen the gradual suspension of their company’s operations on Russian soil and the launch of various donations and solidarity projects. In Paris, the latest initiatives have been taken by industry professionals of Ukrainian origin.
"Fashion doesn't matter, now we must fight", said Ukrainian designer Lilia Litkovskaya, founder of her eponymous brand, just a few weeks ago, coinciding with her participation at the Tranoï trade fair during Paris Fashion Week. A fashion week regular, Lilia's trip this year was quite different from her previous visits to the French capital. When the war broke out on February 24, the designer left her atelier in Kyiv and headed for the Polish border with her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter. The 12-hour journey allowed her to escape the looming horror, but it meant having to leave several family members behind. Among them, her husband, who stayed in Ukraine to fight against the invasion of the Russian army.
Upon her arrival in Paris, Lilia became an ambassador for Ukrainian design in order to showcase the work of her other colleagues, to spread awareness about the current situation in her country of origin, and to gain support during a fashion week against the backdrop of the horrors of war. Lilia encouraged the industry to join her in protesting in support of Ukraine. Her booth at Tranoï did not display her garments, but instead a huge Ukrainian flag, yellow and blue flowers and multiple QR codes providing access to information on several Ukrainian designers and their work. Her initiative is under the ArtCode.Ua project, launched by the designer in mid-February to promote local creativity. As of today, the platform already has more than 10K followers on its Instagram profile and collaborates with 500 painters, sculptors, designers and creatives from other fields.
As part of this project, the platform will organize an ephemeral solidarity event in the French capital from Sunday April 10 to Wednesday April 13. A pop-up store located at 9 bis rue Geoffroy Marie, in the 9th 'arrondissement', will feature Ukrainian fashion brands such as Litkovskaya herself, Bobkova, Katerina Kvit, Dzhus, Shur Shur, Ksenia Schnaider, Gudu and Nadya Dzyak, and jewelry brands Silver Stories and Chego Jewelry, among others. Open from 11am to 8pm, the ephemeral boutique will donate 40% of the proceeds raised over the four days to projects supporting Ukraine. "Faced with such heartbreaking moments, Ukrainians take refuge in unity and mutual support," explained the organization about this collective initiative.
Creating synergies as a form of resistance
"We are helping Ukrainian designers overcome many challenges and bring their products from their workshops all over Ukraine, some of which are located in combat zones. We have gathered our teams in safe places to continue our work. This is our way of helping our country and our teams during these difficult times," said Litkovskaya.
Under this idea of creating synergies, these past few days have also seen the birth of the Angel For Fashion project, a new e-commerce platform that supports Ukrainian fashion design and empowers the local industry to maintain its momentum, driven by entrepreneur Jen Sidary. "Our goal is for people to shop knowing that they are supporting these companies, since the money will directly support the brand and its creative employees," said the founder of the project, which already sells clothes from 30 different designers online, including Frolov, Elena Burenina, Gunia Project and Valery Kovalska.
"Life must go on and free creativity must develop without a doubt. Fashion has always reflected social changes and I hope that the community will react to the terror and that we will soon see many collections that call for peace," designer Ksenia Schnaider, one of the project's participants, told FashionNetwork.com about the role the industry must play in this delicate situation. Founded in Kiev in 2011, her eponymous brand is known for its denim pieces and sustainable philosophy. "War is the moment when all your fears come true at once and everything starts to become a reality. We are all afraid of something: of losing our jobs, of being separated from our loved ones, of seeing our children die, of uncertainty, of hunger, of public humiliation and harassment...".
At the beginning of the war, like many other women with children, the entrepreneur had to flee her hometown. After traveling through three countries and staying in nine different places, Ksenia settled down in Germany with her daughter. "I try to help my team, organize remote work and sales to keep my brand alive, as well as volunteer to help other Ukrainian families. I'm in a safe place now, but my heart is in Ukraine, I can't be okay while terrible things keep happening there," she concluded.
Another charity event will also take place on Thursday, April 14. Entitled "The not-so-obvious trends of the fashion industry in 2022-23", a masterclass will be given by Ukrainian fashion stylist Margarita Muradova, co-founder of the fashion educational platform Modeisme and known for her work over the past decade with fashion brands such as Chanel, Givenchy, Etam and Cartier. Developed in partnership with the Aide et Supporte association, the event will donate proceeds raised to the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the volunteer association Zgraya. Tickets are already available for 100 euros per person.
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