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Some of the biggest fashion designers are making bold statements ranging from their words to changes in their business operations to condemn Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Just days after Russia first invaded Ukraine on February 24, Milan and Paris – two fashion capitals of the world – held their annual fashion weeks with captivating shows that offered a first glimpse of their fall/winter 2022-2023 collections.
Many netizens argued in late February and early March that now was not the time to shed light on material possessions given the violence and destruction raging in Ukraine. But it appeared fashion brands and the creative directors behind them agreed with those sentiments, as they spoke about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s agenda.
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Luxury brands in solidarity with Ukraine
Olivier Rousteing, the creative director of French luxury fashion house Balmain, admitted he felt uncomfortable presenting the brand’s show on the second day of Paris Fashion Week.
“As we show off our collection, we are well aware that there are bigger things going on in the world today. It’s hard to feel good focusing on the shows and the clothes, as we listen with a heavy heart the latest news,” Rousteing wrote. in a statement posted on Instagram.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Ukraine. We are inspired by their dignity, their resilience and their commitment to freedom. In order to feel a little less helpless, I donated to the emergency fund for Ukraine UNHCR The United Nations Refugee Agency [sic]. I would invite anyone else who shares my concerns to consider making their own donation. We are together for freedom.”
Similarly, Balenciaga deleted its Instagram feed ahead of its winter show in Paris, except for an image of the Ukrainian flag. The brand’s creative director, Demna Gvasalia, released a statement on the devastating crisis in Ukraine and recalled his personal trauma as a refugee from Georgia, a former republic of the Soviet Union that endured a civil war in 1991.
“The war in Ukraine triggered the pain of a past trauma that I have carried with me since 1993, when the same thing happened in my home country and I became a refugee forever,” he reportedly said. written in a press release. “This show needs no explanation, it’s a dedication to fearlessness, resistance and the victory of love and peace.”
Reportedly, Gvasalia also recited a poem in Ukrainian, written by poet Oleksandr Oles. Guests were also welcomed to the show with Ukrainian flag T-shirts.
“We as a brand have to do something…we can’t take up arms and go fight there, but we can use our voices,” Gvasalia told Reuters in an interview after the Fashion presentation. Paris weekend.
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Italian fashion house Giorgio Armani also addressed the war by holding its Milan show in silence. In a statement, the creator said the choice not to play music at the event “was seen as a sign of respect for those involved in the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine.”
Brands suspend operations in Russia
Other clothing brands suspended operations in Russia after the invasion of Ukraine.
The H&M group announced that it would temporarily suspend all sales in Russia, saying it was “deeply concerned about the tragic developments in Ukraine and standing with all those who are suffering”.
H&M stores in Ukraine have already temporarily closed to ensure the safety of customers and employees. At the same time, the H&M Foundation has also made donations to Save the Children and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
“H&M Group cares about all of its colleagues and joins all those around the world calling for peace. Clothing and other essentials are donated by the company,” the company said.
High fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Hermès, Chanel, Burberry and Prada have also announced that they are temporarily halting operations in Russia.
Earlier this week, the Prada Group announced on LinkedIn that it was suspending retail operations in the country.
“Our primary concern is for all colleagues and their families affected by the tragedy in Ukraine, and we will continue to support them. The Group will continue to monitor developments,” the company said.
Chanel announced: “Given our growing concerns about the current situation, the growing uncertainty and the complexity to operate, Chanel has decided to temporarily suspend its activities in Russia. We will no longer ship to Russia, we will close our boutiques and we will have already suspended our e-commerce.”
Hermès said it was “deeply concerned” by the situation in Europe: “It is with regret that we have taken the decision to temporarily close our stores in Russia and to suspend all our commercial activities from the evening of March 4. We We will continue to support our local teams.”
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Kering, owner of Gucci, said in a statement: “Due to growing concerns about the current situation in Europe, Kering is temporarily closing its stores in Russia for its Maisons that the Group operates directly in the country. Kering and its Maisons will continue to support local teams and closely monitor the development of the situation.”
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Meanwhile, a Burberry spokesperson told Bloomberg it has stopped shipping to Russia until further notice. The brand has two stores and a concession in the country, but they have since been closed.
LVMH, owner of Louis Vuitton, told the New York Times it would close more than 120 stores in Russia.
In addition to fashion brands, a growing number of global brands, including Airbnb, Visa, MasterCard, Apple and Mercedes-Benz, have also withdrawn from the country.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.