As Russian president Vladimir Putin continues to wage war on Ukraine, fashion industry figures are increasingly following in their Ukrainian peers’ footsteps and speaking up. “I have to say it feels weird walking fashion shows knowing there’s a war happening in the same continent,” the model Mica Argañaraz posted several days after the bombing began, inspiring a wave of models like Bella Hadid to pledge to donate a portion of their fashion month earnings to Ukrainian support initiatives on the ground. Meanwhile, in between urging the industry to take action as fashion month continues as normal a mere two-and-a-half hours away from the war, Ukrainian designers are doing their best to stay afloat. Here are five of the most vocal to support. If you’re looking to read up on the crisis and make a donation, we’ve put together a list of resources here.
Kyiv-based designer Ksenia Schnaider runs her eponymous label with her husband, the graphic designer Anton Schnaider, and the couple considers sustainability to be paramount (making for plenty of upcycling). You may not recognize the name, but if you’re keyed into divisive denim trends, a photo of Kseniaschnaider’s “demi-denims” may ring a bell. In the years since they went viral, however, Schnaider has proven that the culottes-skinny-jeans hybrid isn’t all she has up her sleeves. (Including the “wader” jeans seen above, and the two-in-one boxer jeans that are a favorite of Iris Law’s.) Whether edgy or not, rest assured that each and every garment is made in her native Ukraine.
A go-to for explorers on Ukraine’s National Antarctic Scientific Center, Ienki Ienki’s puffers are the real deal. They also won’t have you looking like you’re actually trekking across the Arctic: Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski have both casually worn them while out and about in New York City. Even if balaclavas weren’t newly trending, we’d have our eyes on founder Dima Ievenko’s signature Hustka Hoods.
Kyiv National Institute of Technology and Design graduate Ivan Frolov is just fine with people mispronouncing the name of his eponymous label in 2015 as “for love”; it’s true to Frolov’s ethos, and after all, the label’s logo is an anatomical heart. These days, Frolov has three components: women’s “Couture-to-Wear,” Frolov Bridal, and a genderless line named Stud. Inspiration comes courtesy of the LGBTQ+, BDSM, and fetish communities, meaning if you’re on the market for a wedding gown (or suit) that’s on the edgier side, Frolov is most definitely for you. And if you aren’t, there are more than enough options to choose from, whether office-appropriate tops or unconventional, semi-sheer takes on outerwear. (Frolov has also compiled a guide on how its international friends and colleagues can help his fellow Ukrainians.)
Jean Gritsfeldt sums his label up in just three words: “everyday party wardrobe.” And by that, he most definitely doesn’t mean your typical going-out tops and bandage dresses: However you like to party, Gritsfeldt has you covered. The Kyiv-based designer—who has held down the fort at Ukraine Fashion Week for a decade, showing everywhere from the National Circus of Ukraine to the Boryspil International Airport to the grocery store—even offers camel coats emblazoned with the cartoon character Alf. His “Kyiv”-printed designs, which range from face masks to bodysuits, have proven particularly popular.
Kyiv State Institute of Decorative and Applied Art and Design alum Yulia Yefimtchuk has long taken inspiration from her heritage; her earliest collections featured Soviet slogans like “peace to the world,” and she continues to pepper her pieces with words in the Cyrillic alphabet that serve as an interpretation of Soviet posters and slogans. (Heads up: She currently has a sale that goes up to 70 percent off.)