Dress code? Khaki: Ukraine, a nation that fights in clothing

(AFP) – Volodymyr Zelensky is the “national influencer”, the first to set the tone: khaki. In eight months of war, Ukraine has largely adopted the president’s dress code, even among civilians, and turned clothing into a communication weapon.

From the first day of the war, the Ukrainian president changed his uniform to a civilian version of the combat uniform, not the Ukrainian military uniform that martial law allowed him to wear as head of the army.

In detail: a bicep-revealing, mostly olive-colored shirt, a zip-up or hooded fleece in winter, sweatpants or cargo pants, and sneakers on the feet, often khakis, too.

“My country is fighting and I wear the same things as people who go down to the shelters, simple and practical +” a message of simplicity, analyzes for Tania Solove├», a researcher of the history of fashion in Ukraine and former AFP journalist of Vogue Ukraine. Nevertheless, sneakers for a few hundred euros.

From the first day of the war and the February 25 general mobilization imposed on men aged 18-60, military green is now widely adopted by civilians in the cities of Ukraine.

“A lot of people started wearing khaki clothes associated with the military, which allows us not to forget what happened and help in our own way,” explains Denys, 30, a real estate agent in Kyiv, in his own designer khaki. to the park.

For women, the trend also varies from small accessories, even manicures, to the “total look”.

In the center of Kyiv, 62-year-old Svitlana went out on this foggy morning in joggers and a khaki sweater, choosing the color because “the time calls for it.”

“But not every day because it’s repetitive,” jokes the retiree, matching her look with a candy pink sleeveless jacket.

– prohibited to civilians –

Fashion journalist Tania Solovey deciphers: “In Ukraine, khaki has always been a popular color for leisure or outdoor wear. But now it’s more than a style, it’s the visual identity of an entire nation at war.”

In front of the Central Post Office, Natalya is dressed head-to-toe in khaki, wearing everything from a hat to an elegant quilted jacket. A look adopted from the beginning of the war, as a sign of respect for her husband, who was mobilized at the front.

“It’s the only camouflage color that gives me a sense of protection,” philosophizes the 42-year-old accountant.

In this war-torn country, most Ukrainian supermarkets now offer military clothing, mainly intended for soldiers, conscripts and those on mobilization.

Under Ukraine’s martial law, civilians are strictly prohibited from wearing not only military uniforms, but also any other confusing military uniforms or clothing.

A fine of 3,400 hryvnias ($92) is provided for violation of the law.

Anastasiya Grebinitchenko, a 15-year-old high school student from Kiev, said: “I like this color, I have many with camouflage print, but I avoid wearing them so as not to confuse and disturb our soldiers.” this winter he preferred black.

– Embroidery and “Vyshivanka” –

In Kiev, the clothing line “Aviatsiya Halychyny”, which donates part of its profits to army brigades, collects these shirts in memory of the heroes of Mariupol or because of anti-Russian messages.

Natalia Koulyk, head of the brand, says: “Clothes are the simplest means of expressing an opinion.

“It’s a direct support for our military and an expression of patriotism,” sums up the store manager, dressed in a woolen coat with pockets and military-inspired herringbone.

In Ukraine, the outfit became a political symbol in 2004 with orange ribbons and scarves, the same color “Revolution” against Kremlin-backed oligarch Viktor Yanukovych.

Then, with the Euromaidan movement in 2014 and the beginning of the war against Russia in the same year, Ukrainian fashion migrated unhindered to “patriotic” clothing, “trident”, and the national coat of arms became the main motif of the trends.

One clear trend is the return of the traditional national identity symbol of “Vyshivankas”, traditional shirts usually worn at celebrations.

Researcher Tania Solovei: “Until Russia repeats that Ukraine has no nation, language and identity, we will defend our culture and heritage, which is part of this battle.”

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