How the fashion industry and Scandinavian brands are helping Ukraine

By Mikko Puttonen

Photo: Acielle Tanbetova

Last Thursday, the unimaginable happened when Russia invaded Ukraine. At the time, fashion week was taking place in Milan. Here, Vogue Scandinavia explores the actions taken by the fashion industry in aid of Ukraine

With the industry gathered at Milan Fashion Week, the news of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine spread quickly along the front row. Opening Instagram, we were faced with current news of the war alongside fashion collections, and street style shots. On day six of MFW and day four of the war in Ukraine, Giorgio Armani was one of the first designers to address the crisis, deciding to show his new collection in complete silence as a sign of respect.

As the industry rallies behind the cause, we reached out to Vogue Ukraine’s website editor-in-chief Violetta Fedorova who was in Kyiv as the invasion started. "I woke up at six in the morning to a call from a friend who told me that the first bombs were falling near Kyiv. We got ourselves together in 15 minutes - took documents, money, water, a few things and went to a country house,” she says.

“It is 50 kilometres from Kyiv - we drove there for five hours. We thought that we would sit there for a couple of days and everything would be over. This was just the beginning. On the morning of the next day, we began to hear explosions. It turned out that next to this house was a military airfield, for which fierce battles were being waged.”

Website editor-in-chief Violetta Fedorova in the car leaving Kyiv.

Fedorova decided to travel further – 800 km – to the western part of Ukraine, closer to the border with EU and NATO. “It took us 30 hours - we drove without stopping, avoided traffic jams, pulled the car out of the mud, followed the map of shelling so as not to fall under them on the road. I don't know how we got through it. It was scary and difficult.”

“Now I am safe, five kilometres from the border with Slovakia,” she says. Fedorova continues to work actively. “I want the whole world to know what Russia has done here, how Russian soldiers are destroying our cities and killing children. We cannot be silent - the truth is behind us,” she says. “We are an independent country, we do not need to be saved. We chose the government ourselves with which we are now defending Ukraine. Everyone helps in any way they can. We have no fear, we don’t even have the strength to cry - we just want occupants to leave our land. We do not need someone else's, but we will not give up our own.”

Everyone helps in any way they can. We have no fear, we don’t even have the strength to cry - we just want occupants to leave our land. We do not need someone else's, but we will not give up our ownVioletta Fedorova

She goes on to explain how fashion brands, industry insiders, and enthusiasts and consumers can help and support Ukraine right now. “First and foremost, take to the streets of your cities. Show what's happening here using your social networks. Second - order Ukrainian brands through their websites, when everything is over, we will fulfill all orders, but now brands need money to support their employees.”

You can help Ukrainian volunteers, she says. “Some help the army, others help the civilian population, others take care of children and refugees. We also call for the termination of any economic relations with the Russian fashion community. They must understand that this is a shared responsibility. While they are silent and do not go out into the street - their government is killing us.”

What the fashion industry is doing

The day after the Armani show it was already time for the international fashion week schedule to move on. And so, Paris Fashion Week started. That same day PFW and the FHCM shared a statement in solidarity with Ukraine.

As the conflict goes on, with continuous agressions from Russia. Many brands have shown their solidarity with Ukraine during their shows and in announcements. Danish brand Heliot Emil have announced that their new AW22 collection will be available to pre-order after the show tomorrow, with 100 per cent of the profits being donated to humanitarian aid in Ukraine through UNICEF. Writing on Instagram, the brand points out that the action is not taken in order to sell more clothes. “We ask that you also consider donating directly to the organisations. Our goal is to make use of our situation to help and support a country and people in need.”

Cecilie Bahnsen with a group of friends and other brands from Copenhagen have joined forces to raise funds for humanitarian help needed in the war in Ukraine. Working with the Danish Red Cross to facilitate all donations, the collection goes to the Red Cross’s relief work in Ukraine - for protection, medical care and very basic emergency aid for the many civilians in need.

Acknowledging that the day of their AW22 show day at Fashion Week was their "most powerful communication moment", Acne Studios voiced their support and solidarity with the people of Ukraine by saying they have donated to UNHCR and UNICEF to provide humanitarian help to those in need and to support relief work in Ukraine and its neighbouring countries.

Marni opened and closed its autumn/winter 2022 show with blue and yellow looks to show its support for Ukraine.

Botter was another brand showing blue and yellow looks, standing with Ukraine.

Ganni also joined the Danish brands supporting Ukraine. Taking to Instagram, the brand wrote “as a company we are aligning with international sanctions and are freezing all trade with Russia.” The brand is also donating 100.000 DKK to the Danish Refugee Council who are currently on the ground in Ukraine, supporting their efforts to save lives and provide emergency relief and protection for those affected by the conflict.

Swedish Ida Sjöstedt are donating 20 per cent of their proceeds to the Red Cross until the end of March (for now), with Sjöstedt saying that they're encouraging their followers to donate whether they want to buy the brand's products or not.

Nanushka showed their AW22 collection yesterday in Paris, declaring their solidarity with Ukraine. In a statement, the brand explains how it is partnering with the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta to provide accomodation, food, clothing and transport to and in Budapest for those seeking shelter as they leave Ukraine. Nanushka has in addition to their statement cut financial ties with Russia, followed by Georgian brand Materiel Tbilisi. This after Vogue Ukraine urged the industry to cease any collaborations on the aggressor’s market effective immediately.

Models also stand in solidarity with Ukraine and show their support. Model Mica Argañaraz has decided to donate parts of her earnings of this fashion week to Ukrainian organisations. After sharing the message on Instagram and encouraging her colleagues and friends to contribute as well, models such as Bella Hadid, Gigi Hadid and Kaia Gerber followed.

Mica Argañaraz walking for Prada.

Kaia Gerber walking for Off-White.

Bella Hadid walking for Versace.

Brands such as Marni and Botter sent looks down the runway in blue and yellow – the colours of the Ukrainian flag – to show their support. We have also seen fashion week guests, artists and celebrities dressed in blue and yellow for Ukraine during events.

Kering and its brands – such as Gucci and Balenciaga – has donated significant amounts to UNHCR in the wake of a growing humanitarian crisis across Europe, providing emergency support to refugees fleeing violence in Ukraine. Kering has also closed all of its stores in Russia temporarily.

Fashion influencers have been showing their support to Ukraine by using their platform to share awareness of how to help or where to donate. Doina has been gathering useful information with her audience and helping people crossing the border from Ukraine to the neighbouring countries, such as her home country Moldova.

To conclude, Violetta Fedorova tells Vogue Scandinavia’s readers:“I want to tell everyone that we are now fighting not only for ourselves, but for all of us, for European values, independence, freedom of speech and freedom of choice. If we fail, you are next. We need your help - real action to help stop this horror.”

Photo: Acielle Tanbetova

Since publishing this article more fashion brands have come out with support. We will continue to report on what brands are doing to support Ukraine by adding them to the list below:

High-street giant H&M Group has temporarily paused all sales in Russia.

In solidarity with Ukraine, Holzweiler has ceased any business with Russia.

Tekla have joined with other Copenhagen-based brand to raise money for the Danish Red Cross

Samsoe Samsoe are not doing any sales or production activities with Russia. Ukraine employees are able to take take leave, fully paid. The business will support refugees with job opportunities. Employees in bordering countries will provide support where needed for refugees through food and shelter. The company will look at long-term donations with humanitarian charities like the Red Cross.

A spokesperson for British luxury label Burberry said the company has paused all shipments to Russia until further notice “due to operational challenges.” Burberry said its priority was “supporting our people and partners, particularly in Ukraine and Russia.” The company will also donate money to the British Red Cross Ukraine Appeal.

LVMH has pledged €5 million to Ukrainian relief.

Yoox Net-a-Porter is no longer shipping to Russia.

Paris-based brand Elleme has set aside all its blue and yellow products on its online store – with 100 per cent of the proceeds from these sales going towards UNICEF’s Ukraine appeal.

Valentino is joining forces with Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana to donate 500,000 Euro in support of UNHCR to provide immediate help to the Ukraine refugees.

Chanel have released a statement saying that the brand "strongly stands for peace and for all people impacted by the war in Ukraine. From the start of this conflict, the protection and safety of our affected employees has been our top priority, providing financial, moral, and organisational support."

Our Legacy has released T-shirts for Ukraine. You can buy them here

LOEWE is making a donation to Cruz Roja Española in support of refugees affected by the war in Ukraine.

Bite Studios have decided to stop all business and all deliveries to Russia.

Filippa K is donating 100,000 SEK to the UNHCR refugee emergency fund that’s aiding forcibly displaced people in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. The company also has no business ties with Russia.

Balenciaga joined the ranks of brands showing support for Ukraine. On top of showing blue and yellow looks, designer Demna Gvasalia wrote in the show notes that: "The war in Ukraine has triggered the pain of a past trauma I have carried in me since 1993. when the same thing happened in my home country and I became a forever refugee. Forever, because that's something that stays in you. The fear, the desperation, the realisation that no one wants you. But I also realised what really matters in life, the most important things, like life itself and human love and compassion. This is why working on this show this week was so incredibly hard for me. Because in a time like this, fashion loses its relevance and its actual right to exist. Fashion week feels like some kind of an absurdity. I thought for a moment about cancelling the show that I and my team worked hard on and were all looking forward to. But then I realised that cancelling this show would mean giving in, surrendering to the evil that has already hurt me so much for almost 30 years. I decided that I can no longer sacrifice parts of me to that senseless, heartless war of ego. This show needs no explanation. It is a dedication to fearlessness, to resistance, and to the victory of love and peace.:

The world's largest luxury players including Chanel, LVMH, Kering, Hermès and Richemont have one by one announced a pause in Russian commercial trading overnight. High street brands like Arket and Cos are also closing down their stores in Russia with the H&M Foundation having donated to Save the Children and UNHCR to support their work.

The Armani Group announces it is joining the war effort with a donation of 500 thousand Euros to the UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency, for the assistance and protection of those who have been forced to flee the war in Ukraine. The Group will also donate essential clothing to the refugees which will be distributed through the Italian nonprofit organisation Comunità di Sant'Egidio.

By Malene Birger joins the many Scandi brands donating to UNHCR.

Rejina Pyo has halted their retail in Russia as a stand against the act of invasion. Taking to Instagram the brand writes: "We believe this is a necessary action to support Ukraine in the current situation. We will continue to donate funds to organisations supporting on the ground and we encourage our peers and customers to help in any way they can."