woman in shop

This fashion brand modernizes Ukraine’s traditional vyshyvanka shirt and dress to reflect wartime

​​​​​​​Despite the ongoing attacks, Ukrainians around the world are celebrating Vyshyvanka Day on Thursday. The vyshyvanka is an elaborately embroidered shirt or dress traditionally worn in Ukraine.

The World

A vyshyvanka is an elaborately embroidered shirt or dress traditionally worn in Ukraine — it’s one of the country’s best-known symbols.

Despite the ongoing Russian attacks on Ukraine, Ukrainians around the world are celebrating Vyshyvanka Day on Thursday.

Kateryna Vozianova, who owns Indposhiv, a men’s fashion brand based in Kyiv, said the vyshyvanka isn’t something she thought about before the full-scale Russian invasion. The company is known for its high-end, custom-tailored suits. 

But now, Vozianova said, it’s important for her brand to reflect this moment in history when many Ukrainians — herself included — are rediscovering their national identity. That’s why Indposhiv pivoted to producing vyshyvankas.

“Before the war, it meant nothing to me, because I didn’t feel that I needed to emphasize that I’m Ukrainian,” she said. “Right now, it has changed completely because it’s the symbol of Ukrainian struggle, everything we are going through right now, and the changes inside yourself and inside everyone.”

Vozianova said that more vyshyvanka orders are coming in because of the holiday. It takes up to six weeks to make one, so Indposhiv ran a social media campaign, she said, asking people to order in advance. She said that she is celebrating the holiday by wearing her vyshyvanka at work.

shirt with embroidery

This vyshyvanka at Indposhiv, a men’s fashion brand based in Kyiv, Ukraine, is embroidered with military symbols reflecting the fact that the country is at war.

Credit:

Daniel Ofman/The World 

At first glance, the company’s vyshyvankas look pretty typical — embroidered patterns, colorful and comfortable. But they have veered away from traditional symbols, like flowers, trees, birds — some of the vyshyvankas depict drones, tanks or military symbols and come in army green. 

“The idea is to translate that we are going through war, this is why on this vyshyvanka you can see all this military machine, tanks, the resistance and the unity of our people,” she said.

shirt embroidery

Indposhiv, a men’s fashion brand based in Kyiv, Ukraine, produces vyshyvankas that display military symbols to show national pride.

Credit:

Daniel Ofman/The World 

Roxolyana Gera, who lives in the trendy Podil neighborhood of Kyiv with her family, collects vyshyvankas, including some modern ones.

“First, I started to buy books about embroidery and about vyshyvanka and about Ukrainian culture, and those books opened a galaxy of Ukrainian culture for me.”

Gera was inspired. She started going to flea markets and joined vyshyvanka collector groups on social media.

“I wanted to find vyshyvankas from each region of Ukraine, and it was my aim, and I’m almost there.”

woman with shirts

Roxolyana Gera, of Kyiv, Ukraine, belongs to vyshyvankas collectors groups on social media. She collects old and new ones and is trying her hand at the embroidery herself.

Credit:

Daniel Ofman/The World 

Gera remembers growing up in western Ukraine, when her family would wear Vyshyvankas on special occasions, like Christmas and Easter.

“I was born in [the] Soviet Union, actually, and it was prohibited to celebrate all the religious holidays, so we still gathered at our granny’s house and we [would] wear Vyshyvankas as a protest and a sign, we remember our roots.”

These days, Gera said that she’s dabbling in traditional embroidery herself. 

woman with shirt

Roxolyana Gera, who lives in the trendy Podil neighborhood of Kyiv, Ukraine, with her family, collects vyshyvankas, including some modern ones.

Credit:

Daniel Ofman/The World 

“I started doing my first vyshyvanka last year, during the air alarms because, while sitting in the corridor or safe place, you have nothing to do because it’s very difficult to start reading because you are a little bit stressed.”

Just sitting with a needle and thread, she said, can be therapeutic and a welcome distraction. 

Volodymyr Solohub contributed to this report.

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