It didn’t take long for lifestyle brands and companies to find ways to help in the war effort in Ukraine. Just weeks after the Russian invasion in February 2022, emails began to pour in from the fashion, fine jewelry and design houses with headquarters located in various parts of Ukraine. Some disclosed that best laid plans for a summer launch had to be put on hold as they searched for ways to ensure the safety of their teams. I spoke to a few brand representatives who shared how almost half of their workforce had taken arms at the warfront.
Even through electronic mail, the courage, determination, and strength of Ukrainian brands were palpable. It was business as usual, despite the fear, danger, and uncertainty of a war. “This is how we can ensure that our economy survives and how we can support our people,” said a brand founder.” Another detailed that, “The war has definitely taken a toll on our economy, and will continue to do so. By finding ways to keep our production and sales going, we hope to lessen the blow and aid in the recovery of our nation.”
I’ve been supporting Ukrainian brands even before the war. A long tradition of craft, attention to detail, and savoir-faire in working with fine fabrics, make pieces from the northern European region true expressions of luxury.
For the past three years, premium lounge and sleepwear label, SLEEPER, has played an integral part in one’s endless shifts between pandemic lockdowns, re-emergence, and revenge travel. Luxury pajamas handcrafted by artisans in Ukraine never fail to take center stage during special occasions like Christmas Eve.
Just as soon as the war broke out in Ukraine, the team at Sleeper immediately earmarked $33,756 to help support the country’s Armed Forces. A stunning Spring/Summer 2022 was about to be launched at around that time, but was put on hold until the Kyiv-based team was secured and safe. “We are now safe and continue working and creating beauty,” shared Sleeper’s Olya Kozachenko.
In April, efforts of the brand were directed towards supporting children affected by the war. All sales made by Sleeper that month were donated to the Ukraine’s largest children’s hospital, Ohmatdyt. “We believe that every child deserves a safe, healthy, and happy childhood,” Olya wrote, adding, “Sleeper donated proceeds from its April sales to Ukraine’s largest children’s hospital in the amount of $20,290.”
The following month, the company launched an artistic collaboration on its website as part of a charity initiative for mother’s in Ukraine. Prints by Ukrainian artist, Masha Reva, were made available on purchase at the website (in poster form). “All sales will be donated to the Ohmatdyt and will be part of a long-term initiative.”
After waiting it out throughout the Spring months, Sleeper finally announced the launch of its newest line. It is testament to the formidable spirit of Sleeper that has allowed them to help the children and mothers throughout wartime. The collection rings in a sense of hope and optimism for brighter days, claiming that promise of brighter days ahead. It is inspired by “slow and nonchalant summers–an ideal time to enjoy life, yourself and your favorite warm-weather activities.”
Dubbed as Joys of Summer, the sunny style presentation was crafted with seaside soirees, excursions around the city, and picnics under the sun in mind. Swimwear, day-to-night dresses, jumpsuits, and linen sets make up this summertime capsule. More notably, it reimagines SLEEPER’s signature puff sleeves, ruffles and bows to echo a distinct brand of optimism often associated with the start of every summer.
SEA ME is the embodiment of slow living by the sea. This holds especially true during the summertime. The brand’s range of all-natural flax linens are ideal not just for the warmer months, but cool weather as well. The team at SEA ME explains, “it provides excellent thermoregulations: wicks sweat and heat in the summer and holds heat during the cool months.” Against skin, linen supports enhanced blood flow and relaxation.
The Summer Set has been a staple in all my excursions for the last three years. I’ve been taking it with me to the beach, up in the mountains, and even on quick work trips to various cities. The addition of a SEA ME’s bedding sets in shades like Breeze, Caribbean, and Stone bring the pleasures of slow weekends to each day. Like the apparel, sheets, duvet covers, and pillow cases from the brand elevate moments of rest while staying in. It’s like being on holiday even if in truth, you’re simply trying to get through another crazy week.
And while leisure and pleasure are high on the agenda while shopping the SEA ME website, the brand’s special collection of works by Odessa raised artist, Katerina Filimonova, raises awareness and opens up opportunities for consumers to help the war effort in Ukraine. There are only five prints, reproduced in limited quantities for the capsule. The collaboration, apart from celebrating a shared love for the art of slow living, also aims to support workers and artisans behind the SEA ME team.
Cofounder Natalya Ishchenko writes: “When the War started on 24th of February, we stopped everything. For a few weeks everything was frozen, so were the people. But later I realized that my duty and responsibility is to keep paying wages and to keep paying taxes, so that the government can use the money for defense purposes. That’s when I came up with the idea to sell art prints. We would normally transfer 50% (of the proceeds) to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The Ukrainian Government made the donations really easy, so even in my bank’s application I can immediately transfer the money for helping hospitals or local defense or Army – that’s normally where we’re donating.”