It’s been almost two years since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Ukrainian fashion designers need our support now as much as ever. Whether dreaming up directional denim or creating one-of-a-kind upcycled pieces, the country’s fashion names continue to excite both in style and sustainability. We’ve curated the Ukraine fashion brands to know, as renowned for their creativity as they are for their courage.
Ukrainian Fashion Designers
The Ukrainian womenswear brand, which was founded in 2014, has just launched its latest collection, Forte et tendre. Meaning “resolute yet tender”, the elegant, easy-to-wear capsule has been designed with the contemporary woman in mind, taking her effortlessly from daytime to evening. Marking a new direction for the label, it has been created in collaboration with the Ukrainian model and fashion influencer Anna Andres. She was, says designer Maryna Morozova, chosen to reflect the typical Marsego customer who is “refined, delicate, graceful and with a strong personality.”
The collection is a lesson in timeless elegance, comprising tailored jackets, knitted column dresses, cute A-line miniskirts, sparkly sweaters and a silk pyjama suit adorned with calla flowers. A highlight – which will no doubt be the piece of the season – is the vegan leather trench, which comes in deep blue or a burgundy and is the perfect outerwear as the Autumn-Winter chill sets in.
Leading the way amongst Ukrainian fashion designers are former fashion editors Kate Zubarieva and Asya Varetsa, who created Sleeper in 2014. The luxury line has redefined sleepwear and more than justified wearing pyjamas outside of the house. Named by the late, great editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia, Franca Sozzani, as the brand of the month in the first few weeks of its launch, the elegant label has become synonymous with deliciously soft, silky sets trimmed with feathers.
Today, Sleeper offers much more, appealing to the minimalist and maximalist alike. While the Party Pyjamas remain a cult favourite, the best-selling puff-sleeved Atlanta dress, a summer go-to amongst the fashion crowd and celebrities, is certainly a contender. Their understated linen sets are also popular, alongside jumpsuits, feather-hemmed cardigans, and of course their shoes, from the satin ballet flats to pompom kitten heels.
Pronounced “yenki yenki,” the Kyiv-based outwear brand made a splash when it launched in 2014, selling out its first season to retailers including Browns and Selfridges. Founded by Dima Ievenko, the brand combines a high-end fashion aesthetic with the functionality of high-performance outerwear.
Lined with goose down for lightweight but effective insulation, the Ienki Ienki line includes a range of ski wear, cosy tracksuits and chic puffer coats. A standout part of the collection is the vegan capsule, where every piece is crafted from 100% sustainable materials including recycled plastic waste salvaged from the ocean.
Launched in 2008, the designer’s eponymous womenswear label is famed for its elegant tailoring and contemporary silhouettes, which has seen Dzyak catapult into the best Ukrainian fashion designers lists. The thoroughly modern pieces incorporate traditional artisan craftsmanship in the layering of pleated details and ruffles, creating an aesthetic that is at once elaborate, intricate and truly unique.
Simple strappy dresses are elevated with sheer tulle constructed into a swirl of pleats and ruffles that cross over the shoulders or down the central body, giving them an air of optical illusion.
The ethical womenswear brand was founded in Odessa over a decade ago. The label’s designer and creative director Anna takes inspiration from the unpredictable daily life of women and the joy of femininity, creating pieces that oscillate between being sensual, cosy, easy and fashion-forward. Each collection is created at carefully selected Ukrainian manufactories and exclusively use deadstock and ethically sourced materials.
The collections ignore trends, but instead focus on creating timeless pieces that use local artisan techniques — maxi dresses feature cut-outs in the back and a single high slit up one leg, slinky midi skirts are cut in sunny yellow and classic button-down shirts are deconstructed with straps that wrap around the waist.
When Elena Reva debuted her eponymous brand in 2012, it met with critical acclaim. The Ukrainian fashion designer has since built up a loyal following for her womenswear (Taylor Swift, Olivia Palermo and Dita Von Teese are all fans), which is described as “contemporary couture with an arty twist”.
Reva is known for collaborating with young Ukrainian artists on her collections, using high-tech fabrics to create sharply tailored, yet feminine pieces. Though most of her employees are in Ukraine, the designer herself has moved to Munich but hopes to return to Ukraine to live because “I like my country, my city and everything that I have in Ukraine. This is my life, and I can’t live without it. I hope that everything will be ok, and I will go home.”
The go-to brand for partywear, the hedonistic line takes inspiration from the Roaring Twenties and Old Hollywood glamour for its glittery assortment of clothing, jewellery and accessories. Each Nué piece is crafted by Ukrainian tailors and jewellers using rhinestone-encrusted fabrics to create styles that are comfortable to wear and guaranteed to make a statement.
The signature style is the Charlotte, a bandeau top with thin straps that wraps the chest in shimmering crystals – a matching mini skirt is available for a complete shiny set. A Charlotte choker in black, blue, purple or gold is also available for those who want a more understated injection of sparkle.
Frolov was founded by Kyiv-born Ivan Frolov in 2015. Despite the ongoing conflict, Frolov – alongside other Ukrainian fashion designers – continues to live and work in the capital, where as well as creating his covetable designs, he also raises funds for organisations helping children in the war-torn country.
Frolov’s womenswear brand is recognised for its corsetry and crystal embroidery (the designer was the first in Ukraine to partner with Swarovski) and is a go-to for the likes of Dua Lipa, Coco Rocha, Doja Cat and Beyoncé. Indeed, the Crazy in Love singer wore a glittering bubblegum pink Frolov number for the finale of her recent show-stopping performance at the opening of Atlantis The Royal Dubai. “The outfit was created in our workshop in Kyiv, during war and massive blackouts,” the designer told Vogue. “It just goes to show that no matter what, Ukrainian brands continue to showcase their resistance and culture.”
She may have graduated from the Kyiv Institute of Architecture and Engineering, but it was fashion where Odessa-born Julie Paskal’s heart lay. So much so that she launched her eponymous fashion brand Paskal in 2013, going on to become a finalist of the first LVMH prize edition and gracing the windows of Colette Paris not long afterwards. The designer – who divides her time between Ukraine (where her team is based), Germany and France – is fascinated with construction and structure, which come into play across her ready-to-wear.
Citing brutalist Soviet architecture as her inspiration, she uses advanced laser cutting techniques as part of the creative process behind the delicate silhouettes and fairytale designs for which Paskal is so well-known.
Chakshyn was established by Kyiv-born designers Dima Chayun and Anton Yakshyn. Both were art degree graduates and when their paths crossed on the fashion scene – Chayun as a stylist and editor, Yakshyn as a graphic designer and art director – their visions aligned and they debuted the label in 2015.
The premise is simple: womenswear inspired by menswear, with ready-to-wear pieces that explore the duality of feminine and masculine. And so, you have deconstructed silhouettes in a pared back palette, with best-sellers including trench coats, outerwear and transformative pieces. A subsequent jewellery line has proved equally successful.
Ukrainian milliner Ruslan Baginskiy began his career as a stylist when he would create one-off couture pieces for photoshoots. He founded his eponymous brand in 2015 in the city of Lviv, later moving to Kyiv, launching with his signature baker boy style inspired by the train uniforms he saw during a trip to Paris.
These days he designs everything from berets to bucket hats, all of them made in Ukraine, supporting local craftsmanship. Drawing inspiration from the traditional (costumes, art, archival photos) he also brings a more modern, utilitarian spin to his headwear, which has made him a firm fashion favourite with the likes of Madonna, Anna Dello Russo, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Miley Cyrus.
Former fashion director of Vogue Ukraine and stylist Julie Pelipas founded Bettter with a very strong purpose in mind: to upcycle everything. Indeed, the ‘us’ in the website domain stands for “upcycling system”. The one-of-a-kind capsule collections are created using a combination of cutting-edge tech and reworked items, many sourced from Ukraine’s flourishing vintage scene.
You might find a midi dress that’s been reworked from a pair of suit trousers with a delicate back slip – or a loose-fit suit consisting of an upcycled hourglass-fit jacket with full-length flare trousers. Indeed, such is the clarity of Pelipas’s vision, she was recognised at last year’s Fashion Awards with Caroline Rush praising her for doing “an amazing job to support creatives in Ukraine and bring the vibrant creativity of the country to the wider world.”
Anton Belinskiy launched his own womenswear label in 2009, becoming one of the best-loved Ukrainian fashion designers. After graduating from the Taras Shevchenko Republic Art School and the Fashion Institute of Technology, he debuted his first ready-to-wear collection in Kyiv in 2010. A loyal customer base soon followed, who couldn’t get enough of his avant-garde yet infinitely wearable designs. Early career highlights include a collaboration with New Balance and being shortlisted for an LVMH prize in 2015.
Inspired as much by the traditional culture of his country as he is by contemporary streetwear, Belinskiy’s designs are often underpinned by political messaging. Last year, in addition to creating garments for the Ukrainian army, he also launched his ‘Free Ukraine’ tee-shirt line and a long-sleeve top featuring a photo of President Volodymyr Zelensky, his wife Olena and their daughter.
For her debut collection, the Ukrainian fashion designer Vita Kin took inspiration from her country’s artisan heritage, incorporating vyshyvanka, the country’s famed embroidery methods and patterns, into her creations. This extended throughout the first few collections of Kin’s eponymous line, and since then the designer has begun to weave in different artisan traditions from around the world.
The result is a colourful, eye-catching collection that is imbued with an authenticity through its links to centuries-old practices and styles. All pieces are produced in small quantities at the brand’s workshop in Kyiv – think oversized blouses with large collars and midi-length linen dresses.
Established by husband-and-wife team Ksenia and Anton Schnaider in 2011, the upcycled denim brand is a favourite of Sophie Turner, Ellie Goulding and the Hadid sisters. With denim production so questionable for the environment (aside from the chemicals, it uses gallons and gallons of water) Kseniaschnaider has sustainability at its core and was one of the first brands to start upcycling at an industrial level.
Though Ksenia is now based in the UK, most of the team and the production remain in Ukraine, where they bring a niche spin to denim, using patchwork pieces, deadstock, secondhand vintage sportswear and leftover knitting to create one-of-a-kind pieces. Standouts include the demi-denims, a combination of culottes and skinny jeans that became an instant Instagram sensation, and the denim fur coat, made of threaded vintage jeans.
Kyiv-based Svitlana Bevza established her womenswear brand in 2006, her aesthetic a simple one: less and luxe. Clean silhouettes, sharp tailoring and soft colours are the core to her designs, offering a fresh take on subtle and minimal. Pivotal to her collections is the “white dress concept”, built on the idea of the pure and most iconic piece of clothing, while her knitwear, much made of recycled plastic and leftover materials, is especially covetable.
Bevza also draws inspiration from Ukrainian culture and tradition, paying homage to her motherland. Bevza’s SS23 collection – shown in New York – was entitled ‘Fragile motherland’ and featured pieces that were designed to recall bullet-proof vests, while grains of wheat feature in her jewellery designs, an homage to Ukraine’s wheat fields.