Yulia Yefimtchuk Vesna, collection printemps-été 2016 | Spring-Summer 2016 collection.
Photo : Michaël Smits

Sign Wars: Wearing the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

Nika Timashkova
Communist symbols, among other emblems of national identity and heritage, have seen a revival since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. They have been reappearing not only in movies and official parades, but also in high fashion. As a result of the conflict, not only symbols but also Eastern European styles have entered the media landscape and become visible to a broad Western audience. The Russia-Ukraine conflict has not only directed attention toward fashion from the Eastern Bloc, but it has also pushed designers and artists from former Soviet republics to confront their past.

Not surprisingly, two years after Kiev Fashion Week 2016, which coincided with the twenty-­fifth anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the “post-Soviet aesthetic” became a worldwide trend both in fashion and the arts. This trend is at the intersection of “gopnik”1 and “normcore” styles, and incorporates 1990s aesthetics, tracksuits, and other related items associated with wardrobe choices of the lower classes in Eastern European countries. Various bloggers see the trend as offering the possibility for a space for non-Western-centred fashion.2 Others, however, highlight the ethical implications that this trend entails, especially in relation to cultural appropriation and commodification.

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This article also appears in the issue 96 - Conflict
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