It’s difficult to fathom that as you read this, war is unfolding on the other side of the world. Innocent men, women and children are being killed in their homes and on the streets of Ukraine.
Having seen the images that capture but a small part of the devastation and hearing reports of harrowing war crimes allegedly being committed at the hands of Russian soldiers, it’s not hard to understand why so many Ukrainian nationals have fled the country.
Some citizens, however, have remained, including a number of Ukranian fashion designers who spoke to marie claire Australia about their experience navigating war, adapting their businesses and how we can help.
“The first week was extremely difficult: we passed all the stages of denial, trying to realize that Russia had started a full-scale invasion of Ukraine,” Andre Tan, designer for unisex streetwear label RDNT, told marie claire Australia.
“The second week, I gathered my team to say we had to do something. So, we ordered fabrics from Italy to create military clothes for our army, and we were able to get sustainable materials for the first collection of RDNT.”
Bridal and eveningwear brand WONÁ Concept also turned their focus from fashion to the production of military wear for Ukrainian soldiers and civilians.
“With the beginning of the war, we have started to work on military clothes instead of evening gowns—balaclavas, thermal underwear, and fleece suits,” founder Ilona Shramko told us.
“At WONÁ Concept factories, we arranged temporary housing for refugees, where they have access to food and places to sleep.”
Shramko said Lviv, the western Ukrainian city where they’re based, was still “relatively safe”, so they’ve been able to continue their work and even hire new staff.
“Now, seamstresses work on military clothes and bridal gowns at the same table. A part of the profits is donated to help children and the army.”
Despite Russian missile attacks destroying two of their boutiques, Fox Lingerie also continues to operate, while helping locals who have been left with nothing.
“We support the displaced women who left their homes without anything,” founder Juliana Genzel said.
“The least we can do is provide them with new Fox Lingerie pieces. So far, we have helped more than 1000 women.”
With the devastation unfolding some 13,000km away it’s hard not to feel helpless when it comes to helping those experiencing so much horror and loss.
Though it may seem a small, trivial or even a vain contribution on first thought, each person we spoke with had the same message: continuing to shop from Ukrainian labels not only empowers them, but has a flow on effect on the ground.
“I know how hardworking and creative Ukrainians are,” Alina Frendiy, founder of TOTÉ, told us, “Buying from a Ukrainian brand is a statement of support, freedom, peace, and belonging—it’s like saying ‘You are not alone’.”
WONÁ Concept’s founder added: “Seeing great support from the world gives us the power to go on with our fight.”
“Every purchase brings Ukraine closer to victory and peaceful life because 99% of businesses donate parts of their profits to the army, humanitarian aid, or support for children.”
LEAD IMAGE: Instagram @wona_concept/Getty