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Ukrainian resistance also passes through luxury stores

The time when designer clothes became a uniform for civilians at the front

Ukrainian resistance also passes through luxury stores The time when designer clothes became a uniform for civilians at the front

Since Putin's troops invaded the borders of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, the consequences of an unexpected conflict, which still persists despite efforts to reach a peaceful agreement, have been irreparable. The fashion world found itself having to make a clear choice, publicly standing by the Ukrainian people with donations, public statements and symbolic gestures. Large and small brands have had to abandon the Ukrainian market because of the difficulties that the conflict has brought to the logistics chain, as well as voluntarily deciding to suspend all services in Russia as a sign of protest. But what happened to the stores that withstood the bombing and to their employees after the forced closure?

One of the main challenges for the shops is to bring back to the brands, if possible, the spring 2022 collections that arrived in the shops before the war and remained unsold, as well as to plan, somewhat optimistically, the autumn 2022 orders so that they are ready in time should the war end. Many are looking to ship spring inventory across the border to a distribution centre in Eastern Europe, where brands can recover their goods and sell them elsewhere, while as for lost or destroyed collections, brands have been unwilling to be compensated, saying that 'it's the least we can do'. Logistics, in fact, still exist, even if, as is often the case during conflicts, they have converted part of their efforts into war and humanitarian work, as in the case of the Ukrainian delivery company Nova Poshta, which distributes goods in the country free of charge, shipping from offices all over the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and France, despite deliveries slowed down by mined highways, destroyed bridges and bombings. 

Tsum's in Kyiv is probably the largest, most luxurious and historic department store in Ukraine, the ultimate shopping destination for Soviet tycoons during the Cold War and one of the main bastions of Ukrainian resistance today. The retailer, which according to Forbes last December sold more than 150 Ukrainian design brands, with sales quadrupling from 2018 to 2021, has played a crucial role in the growth of the Ukrainian fashion design community, hosting brands such as Anna October, Katerina Kvit, Ksenia Schnaider and Frolov, and now extends the same commitment to help a people exhausted by conflict. In an interview with Vogue Business, Olga Chaika, Tsum's purchasing director, told of a time when volunteers from the territorial defence of Ukraine at guard posts and defending bridges needed warm clothes suitable for days outdoors in the harsh Ukrainian winter. Chaika checked Tsum's inventory and made a list of brands whose clothes might help the defenders: the first week in March, in the shop's car park, employees filled cars with 150 shiny bags, each containing Canada Goose coyote fur-trimmed coats, Versace underwear, Organic Basic underwear, socks and T-shirts and other warm winter clothing, each bag destined for a Ukrainian volunteer. And that's how the unsold goods became improvised uniforms for civilians and soldiers on the front lines defending their country, in a context where everyone cooperates for each other's survival as best they can.