The center of Kiev, the site of the Maidan Revolution in 2014, was home to Ukraine Fashion Week earlier this month – the biggest and fastest growing fashion week in Eastern Europe. For some designers showing at the event, Ukraine’s political situation has actually inspired not hindered them. “The Maidan revolution made the Ukrainians more stronger and more powerful – we don’t want to sit and wait, like we were before the revolution. We don’t want to wait and receive our fate. We want to take control and show that we are international,” designer Alena Bettyar told Forbes.
Fashion requires reliable infrastructure, a commitment to strict industry deadlines, and big investments. According to the Calvert Journal, which recently featured ten designers from Kiev to watch out for, these are hard to come by in the “new east” – with the exception of Ukraine.
Ukrainian designer Jean Gritsfeldt used Kiev central railway station to demonstrate his 2019 spring-summer collection at the annual Ukrainian Fashion Week.
Grace Banks explains in an excellent article in Forbes why Ukrainian fashion is thriving.
While it’s dangerous to see a country’s luxury fashion industry as a reflection of reality, in Ukraine, culture and politics have long be synched. This doesn’t look set to change. Jean Gritsfeldt, of the eponymous label, told me that politics was a key part of Ukrainian designer’s fashion offering. “Of course, while living and developing in my own country, being a creative person, I cannot fail to observe the situation that is around”, he said, “especially when it pushes you to speak on about politics, living conditions, the atmosphere in which you work and try to create.”
Ukraine Fashion Week offers a schedule for lovers of innovation and craft. It’s the chance to see the next potentially huge designers before they decide to show in Paris or London, with Ukrainian household names including Lake studio, PRZHONSKAYA, SIX, A.M.G. and Gasanova, making it clear they have what it takes to show in Paris, London or Milan next season.
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