A Breath of Fresh Air For International Buyers

The modern Ukrainian fashion industry with its new clothing brands is a breath of fresh air for international buyers, bored with the same-looking shows that have been circling around in the main capitals of the industry, as it presents a new unique vision while paying attention to worldwide trends.

The fashion industry in Ukraine has been on the rise in the last couple of years, with new clothing brands making a name for themselves on a constant basis. There are more and more publications about Ukrainian designers appearing in all kinds of magazines, from the restrained style of the New York Times to the edgy articles in Dazed and Vice.

New fashion designers are actively participating in various events, such as the Pitti Guest Nation and the LVMH, whilst receiving recognition for their creativity and vision. As an example of such an accomplishment, jeans designed by Ksenia Schnaider made it into the second worldwide review of street style clothing.

Yet new clothing brands from Ukraine aren’t limited to appearing at fashion weeks, they can also be found in famous stores around the world, such as “la Rinascente” (WeAnnaBe), “Alana” (Flow The Label) and “10 Corso Como Seoul” (Ksenia Schnaider).

The Mercedes-Benz Kiev Fashion Days (February 1- February 5) serve as a milestone in Ukraine’s fashion industry progress. Despite the tough economic climate in the country, this year the show managed to be one of the main local events in the world. In its short history of seven years, it successfully surpassed the Ukrainian Fashion Week in popularity, solidifying itself as the place to be, when you’re talking about Ukrainian fashion.

Due to its relative young age and the open-mindedness of its creators, The Mercedes-Benz Kiev Fashion Days became a fertile ground, where a number of new clothing brands emerged (most notably Anna K., who, thanks to this event, now has a spot on the Forbes under 30 list). Another factor that played a huge role in the event’s popularity was the active collaboration with the international press, buyers, and professors from a variety of fashion schools. 

Even though this generation of designers is called the “Post-Maidan Designers” by some international media, these clothing brands, as well as the industry itself, began to rise a few years prior to the tragic events taking place. Thus, these designers rightfully claim, that their popularity isn’t due to the political attention Ukraine has got, but only to their own creativity.

Despite the fact that it would be easy to capitalize on the world’s focus on Ukraine by presenting historical-themed designs, emerging new clothing brands refuse to do so, bar the exceedingly popular Vita Kin, because they feel that they have their own vision to share.

When Ukrainian designers do direct their glance towards the past, it comes in the forms of upcycling, reused materials and ethic manufacturing – those are the topics that are the hottest in the fashion industry today. And with the era of second-hand clothing on the rise in the streets of Kyiv, old clothes are often the main source of inspiration for designers. The theme of upcycling is even further developed by Ksenia Schnaider, who used old denim material from the 80’s for her newest collection.

Another trend that is especially evident in new clothing brands in Ukraine is the overall democratization of the fashion industry. Events organized by Anna K. and Ksenia Schnaider could have been visited by almost anyone, as the designers understand that some of these people will become journalists and clients in the future.

As they got more experienced, the majority of emerging designers (Anna October, Anna K., Shushan) manufacture most of their clothes in Ukraine, both because of the lower cost of materials and the increased control they have over every stitch.

To the credit of Ukrainian designers, they not only unleashed their creativity but finally learned how to communicate and strike deals with buyers, as this was a major issue in the past for the young entrepreneurs. A major fashion agency, More Dash, is distributing these new clothing brands worldwide (Flow the Label, Anna October, Chakshyn etc.), meanwhile, even in the streets of Kyiv, you can see people dressed in recognizable brands, as Vita Kin, Litovskaya and Anna K. have they own corner stores in malls across the capital.

In conclusion, the modern Ukrainian fashion industry is a breath of fresh air for international buyers, bored with the same-looking shows that have been circling around in the main capitals of the industry, as it presents a new unique vision while paying attention to worldwide trends.

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