Ukrainian fashion brand flees bombarded city

Artem Gorelov, a Russian-occupied Kyiv suburb, was struggling to survive just days ago. He is now in a quiet room, working in late afternoon sunlight to make hats for a local fashion company that was worn by Madonna and the first lady of Ukraine.

28 March 2022 Monday 13:15
2217 Reads
Ukrainian fashion brand flees bombarded city

Gorelov joined the massive Ukrainian migration west to Lviv, Poland. Unusually, the company with 100 employees, Gorelov works for, arrived with him. The brand Ruslan Baginskiy, which is looking for safety and determined to stay in Ukraine, is one of the businesses that have been forced to relocate amid the conflict.

Olena Zelenska, the first lady, was present in the showroom of the hat-maker in Kyiv two months ago. The company now operates in two borrowed school classrooms, with its workers delicately assembling materials next to students' decades-old sewing machines.

Although it is slower, clients such as Nieman Marcus and Bloomingdales support the process, Victoria Semerei (29), co-owner.

She was one of the Ukrainians who believed Russia wouldn't invade. She recalls being in Italy one day prior to the invasion, and telling her partners that war was impossible.

The bombardment started two hours after the plane returned to Kyiv.

Three of the co-founders of the company were forced to flee daily bombings. Some employees fled to Ukraine and other countries while others moved to Lviv, where about one-third of the essentials were taken two weeks ago.

Semerei stated that "normal life will resume one-day." "We must be prepared."

The company donated money to the army, and turned its Instagram feed from brand promotion into updates about the war.

"This is not the right time to be timid. Ruslan Baginskiy, co-founder and creative chief, said that it is now. The company had once been a client of Russia, but this stopped as tensions in the region grew. He said, "It's impossible to have any connections." It's all politics now.

Semerei resisted the idea of moving the company outside Ukraine. She stated that "We have our team, the most valuable team we have," "Talented. All of them."

The company has used Ukraine in past brand campaigns. They have taken pictures of it in places like Kherson, which is now under Russian occupation. The hat-maker's former home has been torn down.

Gorelov fled Bucha, near the capital, and said that there were so many Russian troops. It was impossible to defend."

It was surreal to arrive in Lviv, where the world continues and trendy shops are still open. It took several days for him to get used to it. He said that he feels relaxed now, with a new hat in construction at the table.

Svetlana podgainova, a pro-Moscow separatist, sat in another corner of the temporary workspace worrying about her family in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine. They have been fighting for control over the territory for almost eight years. Even before the invasion, it was difficult to visit family. Her brother is unable to leave the area.

She felt terrible seeing her Ukrainian colleagues being pulled into the conflict and wishes for normal life to return. She said that she wanted to go back to work until then. She finds it distracting and makes her feel less isolated in a new place. Her colleagues are her "big family".

Employees of the hat-maker are among the estimated 200,000 people who have fled their homes. The co-founders share an apartment with several others.

Semerei stated that this year will likely be the most difficult in the company’s six-year history. However, Semerei said that "this is something that we'll get through and hopefully be stronger."


 

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