Footwear Designer Alina Kachorovska Speaks About the Impact of the War on Ukraine and How She Continues Her Business Regardless of the Danger
When the news broke that Russia had invaded Ukraine on February 24th 2022, shockwaves were felt worldwide. Now, nearly 12 months later, the bloody conflict in that region rages on with no end in sight. This is a year anniversary no Ukrainian will celebrate and for all the residents of the region the war has uprooted or destroyed their lives for years to come.
The most terrible consequences have been felt by the people of Ukraine, but in looking at the war’s global impact wider consequences have been felt from countries around the world. This is a widespread conflict brought on by one ‘radical’ country and has material and ethical concerns for all humanity that will impact all of us for decades.
The war on Ukraine has led to a humanitarian crisis that Europe is feeling the most but nonetheless all the Ukrainian designers know it’s their duty to continue sketching, sewing, and designing. Their businesses are more important than ever continuing to provide jobs in a predominately women’s industry as the men continue to fight on the front line. The war recovery effort took another level of courage to continue supporting the country’s economy even as their cities and country endures daily bombs and constant sounds of air raid sirens almost every hour throughout Ukraine.
Many have repurposed their operations to help the war effort with some companies relocated in and out of Ukraine. This unprovoked war has made travels back and forth between Ukraine by land as there are still no flights in or out of the country. The journey which now takes around 20 – 30 hours just to travel to a neighbouring city in Europe. These Ukrainian fashion designers are relentless, making sure their lines don’t cease so they can continue to pay their employees and provide for their families.
One example of the Ukrainian fashion resilience is the footwear brand Kachorovska who constantly lives with no electricity, no internet, no water but continues to be the largest, iconic footwear brand in Ukraine employing 150 people.
Alina Kachorovska the Creative Director and Designer of KACHOROVSKA endures to live full time in Kyiv the capital city of Ukraine. She is a wife and mother of three young children working hard to manage her business and keep her family safe during this dismaying yearlong unwarranted war on her country. She has had multiple offers to leave Ukraine but insists on standing strong with her team and her country.
“I will NEVER leave Ukraine”, she says when anyone asks her. “I am busy preparing and planning for when we win this war and Kyiv is the destination city in all of Europe. The world will come to Ukraine and explore all the incredible treasures we have been creating for years, I just know it in my heart that the world will come.” Alina Kachorovska says.
There was no question for Alina in leaving her capital city of Kyiv. Right now, her place is right there standing strong with her country. Also, even especially, for her children as she lived through the fall of the USSR in 1991 when she was three years old.
“I remember when I was 5-6 y.o. we had long periods without electricity as we were a poor country after the USSR break down. We not used to have even candles, just a piece of textile in oil and this is how we lightened the house. Tough years which that always come back to mind when we are again with blackouts. My son (4 y.o.) the first thing he does as soon he wakes up is checking if we have lights. I had the hope for my kids to just remember the sunny moments from their childhood and that they forget what war brought to us. As I forgot the poverty that the fight for Ukrainian independence brought us in my childhood”, states Alina.
In the weeks after the Russian invasion, many families had fled to find refuge across Europe and around the globe. As many Ukrainian families passed their first Christmas in their new homes, with a range of emotions that comes with beginning a new year, without seeing loved ones for consecutive months, as well as what the reality of a new life feels like. For millions of Ukrainians, many of them still under daily Russian bombardment and grappling with little to no power and water shortages, New Year’s celebrations were certainly not the same as Russia’s almost 12-month war rumbles on with no end in sight.
As Russian attacks continue to target civilian power supplies leaving millions without electricity, no big celebrations were expected, and a curfew was put in place as the clock announced the new year. But for most Ukrainians being together with their families watching Volodymyr Zelensky’s address to the nation is already a luxury.
Kachorovska this past December used Artificial Intelligence technology for its newest shoe campaign called “We Speak Shoes”. The new brand’s communication platform and its message — “We Speak Shoes,” was developed by the brand creative director. KACHOROVSKA begins a movement and will set an example for the fashion industry which will inspire the world with their creative bravery.
KACHOROVSKA footwear brand began with Alina Kachorovska’s grandmother making shoes in Ukraine. Launched during the Cold War in 1957 they now employee 150 people with its own shoe factory, 2 retail stores and coffee shops in the centre of Kyiv. Alina Kachorovska is the third-generation woman in the business and still works closely with her mother Olena Kachorovska who currently runs the factory. The footwear factory is located right outside the centre of Kyiv produces its fashion collection and has pivoted since the war to also deliver Ukrainian army boots to help the countries war effort.
They currently ship 25,000 commercial pairs of shoes a year to their customers and are still successfully conducting business even while the war on Ukraine continues. In any city in Ukraine on almost every street you will see women wearing KACHOROVSKA shoes which are also frequently worn by the First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska. The company is now even more focused on growing their business to international marketplaces. The brand concentrates its attention to its core category footwear but also produces handbags and apparel to provide their customers a head-to-toe look.