How to earn money on patriotism

How to earn money on patriotism
Brilliant and lively screen prints in the national style are in high demand among patriotic Ukrainians
Photo: Mykola Markovich

Over the past few months the wardrobe of Executive Director of the Dolce Travel tourism company Natalia Bondareva has been significantly renewed. It now contains an embroidered shirt and a hand-sewn dress in the national style, T-shirts with the images of poppy flowers and the trident and a multitude of yellow and blue ribbons for the hair and wreaths. These items now have an honorary place in her closets together with brand name fashion wear.

“My husband and I registered in the marriage bureau wearing embroidered shirts,” tells Bondareva. “The Ukrainian thematic also appeared in the office. On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the company celebrated in Antalya, we all flew wearing T-shirts with the Ukrainian trident. By the way, beside our group there were 20 other passengers wearing clothing with the Ukrainian national symbols,” she added.

Today, there are many offers for the sale of the clothes with national symbols of Ukraine. The majority of sellers, however, order a set of T-shirts in China, print on them a popular image (in particular of the Russian president), sell them and disappear after the first or second sale. After all, they are not interested in investing money in designers, artists, promotion or even registering a trademark. But there are some that want to occupy this niche for a long time in order to popularize the national thematic in the fashion industry.

Children of revolution

One of the brands that appeared during the winter events on the Maidan in Kyiv was Ukrainian Riot Clothing. Co-owner of this trademark Dmytro Kovtun said this brand was created under the influence of the revolutionary events in Ukraine. “The start-up capital was all of US $10,000. We wanted to do something patriotic with a sense of humor. Our first most popular T-shirts “Warriors of the Light” (an image of the guru Yoda of the Star Wars saga brandishing the Ukrainian trident instead of the Jedi light saber – Capital) was well-received by clients. Indeed, literally a few days after we posted this product on Facebook more than 1,000 units were sold,” said Kovtun. “This is a very good indicator for a brand not known to many consumers that just recently appeared on the market essentially with one type of T-shirt,” he added.

Kovtun said the sales of the trademark continued to grow in the spring and summer of 2014 thanks to several popular national prints, though the company has disclosed specific sales figures as it will only calculate the results at the end of the year. “I think we chose the right approach – patriotic, happy and not aggressive. We did not resort to the difficult topic of Putin that other new brands did and continue to do so,” Kovtun noted. Besides that, in his opinion the company set a reasonable and profitable price of UAH 200-220 for such a T-shirt.

Ukrainian Riot Clothing plans to incite Ukrainian patriotism with humorous images on T-shirts and sweat shirts with long sleeves and is expanding the smart casual trend among youth. Yevhen Petlev is the art director of the trademark. “As a rule, he develops prints and develops a general line of design, but the company often cooperates with freelance designers. The main buyers of Ukrainian Riot Clothing are patriotic citizens with a sense of humor. Healthy nationalistic sarcasm with a sense of irony allows for creating a unique brand that differs from others, Kovtun believes.

Foreign markets

The brand Heyday Ukraine is another newcomer on the domestic market – over a few months it managed to attract nearly 19,000 fans on Facebook. The range of the brand is so far limited to T-shirts and sweatshirts. The prices range from UAH 149-369. The three co-owners of Heyday Ukraine Roman Zoriy, Serhiy Tsyupko and Andriy Pavlykivskiy say they came up with the idea of creating the brand at the end of March 2014 and in mid-June the ready product appeared on the market.

The start-up capital of Heyday Ukraine was US $10,000. The co-owners of the brand assured that they could have launched the project for three times less. “However, we believed in the idea, immediately developed a wide range of prints and invested additional money in marketing, packaging and operating costs,” Zoriy explained.

In October the brand will present a minimum of five new positions in its collection. “We are reinvesting our own money into this venture. The development of models will in the best case scenario cost US $3,000. Further, it’s a matter of the volume of circulation, says Tsyupko. He added that there was a sharp growth in sales in the first two months. Now, sales are steadily growing and jumps in sales happen when wholesale clients appear, both Ukrainian and foreign. “We have partners in the U.S. and Canada – they are wholesale companies. At the moment, we are seeking partners in Europe,” the co-owner of Heyday Ukraine pointed out. The clothing brand is sold on social networks and in retail outlets. A website will be set up in tandem with the launch of a new collection of products. The designers of the Heyday screen prints are a team of illustrators from Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk.


The team of the NUKRAINE brand (New Ukraine — Capital) impressed the famous British founder of the Virgin group of companies Richard Branson. He shared his photograph in one of Nukraine’s T-shirts on his Facebook. Owner of the Nukraine trademark Oleh Zahrebniy tells the story of this photo: a team of Ukrainian journalists attended a forum in Europe where Richard Branson gave an address and presented him with a T-shirt. “Apparently, he was enthralled by the T-shirt. We were definitely very happy about such a response,” says Zahrebniy.

The Nukraine brand was launched in 2009 and since the very beginning had a patriotic objective. “We did not create the trend, we simply predicted it. When we created the trademark, such a selection of Ukrainian clothing in the mid-price segment (300 hryvnia for a T-shirt – Capital) did not exist,” said Zahrebniy. “We of the younger generation had nothing to buy in our native country. I am talking about high-quality clothing for the youth. We planned from the very start to create clothing with a national overtone. We wanted to show that national and ethnic motifs are relevant. Then people will pay attention to all that is Ukrainian,” Zahrebniy emphasized.

Today, the company is working with several young artists, among them Ilya Strongovskiy, Nadiya Kalameyets and fashion designer Volodymyr Podolyan. Nukraine focuses on T-shirts and sweatshirts, but in the future plans to expand to shirts, pants and outerwear. Zahrebniy did mention any specific figures about the earnings of the company, though he assures that it not operating at a loss. “We always minimize our risks. First we study what the consumer needs, we produce several samples and try to sell them. If there is a demand, we order a larger shipment of goods. This way we do not lose huge amounts of money on production. We did not have start-up capital in the classic understanding. Initially, we had no more than 10,000 hryvnia. We made a few screen prints and tried selling them through the social network,” Zahrebniy shared his experience.

Happy customers

Over the past few months the family of the director of the clinical research company Axis Group Oleksandra Razina spent nearly UAH 7,000 on national clothing. “We earlier bought embroidered shirts, wreaths and other similar items. This year the selection has significantly increased due to the patriotic boom,” she says.

The fashion for everything Ukrainian this year caught the attention of the top world’s designers and celebrities. Hollywood actresses Halle Berry, Katie Holmes, Anne Hathaway and the famous British model Kate Moss wore embroidered shirts made by Isabel Marant for US $260-420.

Besides that, singer Lana Del Rey also showed off an embroidered dress walking down the streets. In the 2014 spring-summer collection of the Italian designer Alberta Ferretti colored prints identical to traditional Ukrainian embroidery were sown on dresses, skirts and gowns.

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