Evolution of Ukrainian Traditional Clothing

Ukraine has had many types of traditional clothing made for male and female wearers. Male wearers, would commonly use kozhukh, kontusz, żupan and sharovary. For female wearers, the traditional costume includes vyshyvanka and kozhushanka.  Back in the days, people made clothing of homespun cloth, linen or hemp canvas. One’s wealth was measured with what one wore. Poor people wore only long shirts with a belt, leggings and bast shoes or walked barefoot. Rich people wore long shirts as undershirts. Also, they wore coats and cloaks, hats and boots and their pieces of clothing were all particularly well decorated and colourful.

                           Some of the various traditional clothing with vibrant and bright colours.

Ukrainian traditional costumes has come a long way from ancient times till today. Ukraine’s fashion industry has undergone its own revolution ever since. The sudden rise and appreciation of Ukrainian traditional dress on an international level can be credited to Vita Kin, the designer that shed light on the vyshyvanka, a traditional Ukrainian dress that street style stars scrummed to get into. The designer has become an international sensation, with local fashion fixtures like Asya Mkhitaryan wearing the designer’s version of a zhupan (a traditional Ukrainian jacket) to Paris Fashion Week. Whether it is the embroidered peasant shirt festival goers wear or Slavic red patterns on the runway at Valentino spring 2015 couture, the Ukrainian traditional costume has knowingly and unknowingly permeated fashion for years, and now the spotlight on the country’s aesthetic is in full swing once again.

                                Vita Kin, a Ukrainian Designer that brought light to vyshyvanka


                                                        Some of Vita Kin’s popular designs

There are also a few other Ukrainian designers such as Ksenia Marchenko of Ksenia Schnaider, who pixelates and enlarges traditional Slavic patterns sometimes while still utilizing typical curve-emphasizing Ukrainian silhouettes. There is also Karavay (a label beloved by Ukrainian editors) which keeps its clothing classic, dotting the arms and bust of a black diaphanous gown with delicate Slavic-style embroidery of flowers.


                                                      Some of Ksenia Marchenko’s designs

Modern designs of these traditional wears are very popular among celebrities. Be it singers, actresses or tv hosts, they are all seen proudly wearing it.

                                                              Singer, Katia Bujynskaya

                                                            Actress, Olga Sumskaya

                                                                   Singer, Irina Bilyk

                                                         TV host, Oksana Marchenko

                                           Miss Ukraine Universe 2014, Olga Strojenko

Traditional clothing is an important aspect of any culture- it provides an insight into the social structure, historical, cultural and economic developments. It is fascinating to see a traditional costume undergo a revival and get a new life via an interfusion with modern fashion styles.

Kayla Sendeli