One of the main topics I was introduced to last year when I first learned of the field of Fashion Anthropology, was how the fashion industry helps to support economies in distress. One example that we studied was the case of Antwerp, Belgium. Although they were not in economic crisis, many talented Belgian designers did not have the funds to travel to Paris or London for Fashion Weeks to show their collections. Because of this, they worked to create their own fashion capital in their home city, Antwerp. Today, Antwerp is more well-known as an artistic city, rich in culture. The rise of the fashion industry in this city changed its’ culture and the worlds’ view of it.
With Antwerp in mind, I couldn’t help but wonder how political crisis in the Ukraine is effecting Kiev’s fashion industry. I know that such a thought seems trivial, especially compared to all the damage and distraction happening right now. However, using Style.com’s Style Map, I was able to view a timeline of events in Kiev’s Fashion Industry,which I expected to come to a complete hault since the violence erupted, however, what I found was very surprising.
Like most countries in crisis, Kiev’s fashion designers started this year by exhibiting extremely patriotic displays. Back in December, famous Ukrainian designer Anton Belinskiy, incorporated the Ukranian flag into his collection. He also used accessories such as floral headpieces and leather caftans which are representative of Ukrainian culture. At a time when patriotic sentiments are low, fashion and dress was one way for Ukranian’s to show their pride and support.
Photographs such as this one, from Style.com, show the designers’ way of portraying how their country was feeling through their collections and dress. Fashion has been put to use as an expression of emotion and as a political statement throughout this time of crisis in Kiev.
The Show Must Go On
Besides those who are using their design skills as a political statement, Mercedes-Benz Kiev Fashion Days is an annual event very important to their fashion industry. Designers from all over the country gather to showcase their collections. As an up-and-coming fashion capital, it seemed imperative for the show to go on, but because of the events taking place in the city, other capitals such as London and Paris joined together to help Kiev through this tough time. On top of carrying out Kiev Fashion Days events in their home city wherever it was possible, other cities hosted smaller events to support the struggling city, including a Kiev Fashion Days show at London Fashion Week, and the Fashion Scout showroom in Paris.
Fashion Director Daria Shapovalova writes, “The new season of Kiev Fashion Days is based on the idea of #FASHIONFORPEACE. It was important for us to underline that the fashion community has a strong idea of how our industry should react to the difficult events, and how the country shall move forward.” With an industry as big as fashion, with a strong presence in every major city around the world, heavily contributing to economies and cultures; such support in a time of crisis can be extremely functional in rebuilding peoples’ spirits, giving them an outlet for freedom of expression, as well as contributing to rebuilding the economy.
She continues to suspect that, “already-fashionable European Ukraine is going to emerge as a completely new European Ukraine, something everyone in the country has been fighting for in recent months.” If fashion is just another outlet for them to feel in control of their freedom, then why shouldn’t the show go on?
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