When traditions become fashionable
WHO…Vita Kin is a Ukrainian designer and photographer who has gained a worldwide popularity with her eponymous label Vita Kin. She uses the traditional Ukrainian dress – vyshyvanka – to create authentic dresses, blouses, and overalls. The designer has become an international sensation, bringing her dresses and blouses in the most renown closets – which has knowingly and unknowingly permeated fashion for years, and now the spotlight on the country’s aesthetic is in full swing once again.
DOES WHAT… Vita Kin takes her inspiration from her homeland’s traditional embroidered garments. She adds a contemporary twists; a midi-length hemline, a saucy to-the-thigh split, bigger sleeves, bolder embroidery and a hint of the Seventies. The distinct look of her dresses take inspiration not only from the traditional vyshyvanka, but also Aztec embroidery, Guatemalan colors, Greek tassels, Portuguese cottons and calicos. Paired with a 1970s inspired bohemian vibe she creates a modern iteration of her country’s traditional dress. The pieces are all made using the finest linen and her unique and original creations are standout focal points that make for easy dressing. It takes two craftswomen two days to make one dress, which gives you an idea of the quality.
…WHERE Each piece is made with care in their Ukrainian workshop. The remarkable quality is the result of the great attention they pay to small details. Because it takes time to make such intricate pieces, production is limited and they work with only a small number of stores.
AND HOW IS IT ETHICAL… According to Slavic traditions, intricately embroidered blouses were passed down the generations and were carefully worn only on special occasions. Vita Kin is the brain behind the glorious return of Slavic folklore heritage. She took the challenge to place the Ukrainian national costume traditions into modern context and has been an international success so far. Although the embroidery is done by machine, a ton of manual work goes into each piece which is made over the course of three weeks and uses over 100 metres of thread with couture-levels of craftmanship. The machine uses threads intended for hand work. For this, Vita herself specially retrofitted her equipment to suit this unique approach. Each pattern is programmed by an experienced operator, and then refined and adjusted over the course of several weeks of testing, to achieve a match between ancient pattern and modern production method. Only once it’s been perfected is the pattern then put into production. Assembly of sleeves, collars and cuffs is done by hand, according to age-old methods used by our Ukrainian ancestors,’ says designer, Vita Kin. ‘For me, it was always important to try to preserve the authentic feel of the hand embroidery, so that it would look as if it was made by the old masters. Because I know exactly how I want my things to look, I broke all the rules about modern embroidery machine technology.’ Each new employee of Kin’s workshop in Kiev undergoes a month of training to learn these sewing techniques. This kind of labour-intensive work cannot be mass-produced, but Kin insists she ‘is not chasing after quick results,’ and so doesn’t outsource to other factories.
Website: Vita Kin
Instagram: Vita Kin