Ksenia Schnaider

Ksenia Schnaider, Ukrainian designer specialized in upcycling continues her activities despite the war

After fleeing Ukraine at the beginning of the conflict, designer Ksenia Schnaider is back in Kyiv to restart her

production.

On the first day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ksenia Schnaider woke up to the sound of bombing in her city,

Kyiv. “It was about four in the morning when I heard the noise.

To be honest, I didn’t realize what was happening and went back to sleep right away,” says the designer.

But my mom kept calling, so I finally woke up and picked up. She just said, ‘The war has started. It was

the worst moment of my life.” View more 11 Ukrainian designers to discover during a solidarity pop-up in Paris

To support them, go from April 10 to 13. 

By Marthe Mabille

After spending the next night in an underground shelter, Ksenia Schnaider and her husband Anton, with whom she

founded her eponymous brand, decided to leave for western Ukraine to get their daughter to safety. “When we left

Kyiv, we thought it would be for three days maximum,” she recalls. We had no idea it would last that long.”

“We didn’t have a plan, we just jumped in the car” – Ksenia Schnaider

But as the war began to spread to the west of Ukraine, the couple made the difficult decision to flee their country,

first trying to cross the Polish border, to no avail, before successfully entering Hungary. “We didn’t have a plan,

we just jumped in the car,” Ksenia Schnaider continues.

Surviving

Once in Budapest, the young woman contacted former colleagues who offered her accommodation for a few weeks. Since

then, the little family has moved countless times, staying with various friends across Europe. “Since the war started,

we have lived in at least eleven apartments in four different countries,” says the designer, who is currently in

Nuremberg, Germany.

A look from Ksenia Schnaider’s anniversary collection.

Andrew Grey

The designer has just restarted production after fleeing Ukraine.

Andrew Grey

Ksenia Schnaider stopped all production in Kyiv during the first two months of the war and only restarted

it in early May: “We are gradually trying to rebuild everything. Two weeks ago I drove to Kyiv to meet with

some of my team and we decided to restart our production. There are only five people there, so we are operating

with about 30% of the staff, but it is already impressive. I’m really proud of the effort we’ve put in.”

10 years later

Since its launch 10 years ago, the Ksenia Schnaider brand has gained international recognition, thanks in

part to an upcycled hybrid jean worn by Bella Hadid in 2022. “In the beginning, we only produced small collections

and were very successful locally,” says the designer. Then I created a pair of jeans from two pairs I had

deconstructed, and somehow it became a trend.”

Overcoming prejudice

The popularity of these jeans was the reason the designer decided to focus on upcycling, using second-hand

clothing purchased locally in Ukraine. “To be honest, I always reworked the clothes I wore, because my family

was not rich,” she continues, adding that she was not sure at first whether Ukrainians would want to buy

upcycled pieces, due to the prejudice in the country around used and vintage items. View more The war in Ukraine as seen by the Vogue Ukraine team

Seven days have passed since Russia invaded Ukrainian soil. The Vogue Ukraine team describes how they survived

those terrible days.

Nike Air Huarache Wolf Grey Platinum

Yet Ukraine is the largest importer of second-hand clothes in Europe, with them being sold in markets throughout

the country. Even in the midst of war, some of these markets are holding up. “I don’t know how, but they

still operate in western Ukraine. That’s where we buy the second-hand clothes that we recycle in Kyiv,”

says the designer. statangetfall197 The latest version of Ksenia Schnaider’s upcycled hybrid jeans.

Andrew Grey

Although production is restarting, the future of Ksenia Schnaider’s brand is far from secure, with much of her team

now scattered across several countries. “Our brand is ten years old this year! We had planned a huge anniversary party

and a capsule collection,” she says. But that’s no longer possible because of the war.”

“I really encourage people to order from Ukrainian brands to show their support and solidarity.” – Ksenia Schnaider

Despite this, the young woman is determined to continue designing clothes and supporting her home country, “I really

want to keep my production in Ukraine, as well as my employees, who have worked with me for so long. They need these

jobs, especially in a time like this.”

Support

For Ksenia Schnaider, the support given to Ukrainian designers by the global fashion community has been essential

over the past few months: http://barnetthindson.unblog.fr/2022/05/28/coach-derby-tote-bag-coach-pebble-leather-bag-tote/ : “I really encourage people to order from Ukrainian brands to show their support and solidarity. It means a

lot to us. If we hadn’t felt so much support, I don’t think we would have reopened. This is what gives me the

strength and power to continue.”

  1. Translation by Sandra Proutry-Skrzypek.
  2. Originally published on Vogue UK.
  3. Also find on trydecaf.org:

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