UPDATED, Feb. 24:
Alina Kachorovska is back home in Kyiv after intense fighting erupted across Ukraine this morning.
“It’s hard to believe that yesterday I was in Milan at an international fashion fair, and today I’m in Kyiv where the war started at 5 a.m,” the designer told FN over WhatsApp.
She was in a safe place in her Kyiv residence with her family as violence escalated across the city.
“We need your support now more than ever,” the designer wrote in a statement on behalf of her family company. “We call on the world community to continue communication with Ukraine at all possible levels. Your support on raising the awareness of war, buying goods made in Ukraine, supporting Ukrainian volunteers and army, and informing at all scales are the steps needed.”
WHAT WE ORIGINALLY REPORTED:
“I’m talking to you during a historic moment for my country.”
Alina Kachorovska has just landed in Milan on a plane from Kyiv. The designer and mother of three lives and works in Ukraine’s capital city.
Despite the growing unrest and uncertainty unfolding across the country, Kachorovska — who owns Kachorovska Atelier with her family — is feeling upbeat. “The people of Ukraine are incredible, and the entire world is with us,” said the designer, who grew up in the shoe business under the tutelage of her grandmother, who began working in a footwear atelier in the late 1950s, and her mother, who oversees production at the factory in their hometown of Zhytomyr.
The younger Kachorovska is in Italy to attend Lineapelle, the bi-annual leather and components show, to prep for her next collection. (Just minutes after her arrival on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into pro-Russian regions of eastern Ukraine.)
While she’s spending the next few days in Italy, Kachorovska’s brand is on display in New York this week as part of Ukrainian Fashion NYC Project, which is supported by the USAID Competitive Economy Program. The initiative, which brings seven Ukrainian brands together, is led by Jen Sidary, the former head of Zappos Couture.
“I had friends in Ukraine, and I bought a one-way ticket to go there in November 2020 during the pandemic. My friends and family thought I was crazy,” Sidary recalled. “At the time, Americans couldn’t even place Ukraine on a map. I met every big fashion designer and the next thing I knew I was consulting for them. I had no idea Ukraine had this incredible fashion industry.”
The Ukrainian Fashion NYC Project is being held for the second time, and Kachorovska is excited about her prospects in the U.S. She was picked up by Lyndon’s, the women’s store in Wichita, Kan., and America is the second biggest country for the brand’s web sales.
In addition to the growing e-commerce business, which now accounts for almost 50% of total sales, Kachorovska has three stores in Ukraine, which are combined with the family’s coffee shops. The rise in local shopping during the pandemic fueled growth at an important time, the designer said, adding that she focuses on feminine pieces that can be an investment. (Sidary said the collection generally retails under $200 in the U.S.)
Prior to launching the brand seven years ago, the family specialized in bespoke footwear and has created custom looks for more than 25,000 women over the years.