Six Ukrainian Crafts Brands to Follow (and Buy From) Now

Six Ukrainian Crafts Brands to Follow (and Buy From) Now

SUITCASE talks to the founders of six Ukrainian craft-based brands about the challenges of living under the Russian invasion and how your support can be a powerful tool to preserve the country’s crafting heritage.

Read more about Ukrainian craft in Volume 37: Craft.

the war in Ukraine started, Kate Zubarieva and Asya Varetsa
were ready. The founders of Kyiv-based clothing label Sleeper had a back-up
atelier ready to go in Turkey, and quickly swung into action
evacuating their team from the capital.

“Our first priority was to keep our people safe. We had a plan
in case of war because of the rumours in the press. As soon as our
team relocated to Europe, Turkey and Western Ukraine, we were able
to function,” they say.

Striving to keep their businesses afloat while surviving a war
has called on every ounce of ingenuity, chutzpah and tenacity
Ukrainian business owners have, but many say they feel motivated by
something bigger than profit margins.

“We are going through a lot, so we feel the need to continue
working more than ever,” says jeweller Oksana
. “This is the way to help our army, support the
economy and inspire people to discover their own history.”

Jewellery designs from Ukraine-based crafter Oksana Boriychuk
Ceramics from Gunia Projects, a Ukrainian homeware brand

Designs from Lviv-based jeweller Oksana Boriychuk, left, and
Gunia Project’s ceramics

“We pay Ukrainian taxes and provide workplaces for Ukrainians,”
say Zubarieva and Varetsa. “It’s important to us, and to any
Ukrainian brand, to stay profitable to support our country and
business in these hard times of Russian aggression.”

For many, the stakes couldn’t be higher: for instance, Gushka Wool, which
makes contemporary rugs and carpets using traditional Ukrainian
weaving techniques. Here, some team members were able to stay at
the looms, but others went to fight on the frontline.

Sisters Olha and Helen Norba, founders of luxury sportswear
label Norba,
manufacture most of their pieces in Kharkiv, one of the heaviest
hit cities. “Naturally the full-scale war disrupted everything,”
says Olha. “The first weeks, our only focus was to make sure our
team was safe. It was really hard for us to perceive any prior
goals as meaningful – but life has to go on, so at some point we
moved part of our stock to the west of Ukraine and managed to
resume sales to support our team with a stable income.” She says
that even now the frontline has moved away from Kharkiv’s
residential areas, the city is still being hit by missiles

It is really inspiring to see that people all around the globe care about our work and its future

Olha Norba, founder of luxury sportswear label Norba

With their workshops and factories either unreachable or in
ruins, many Ukrainian businesses have found new ways to continue
production. Others, such as accessories label Kate Kore, have had
to rely on existing stock.

“Our manufacture has temporarily stopped working, [but] we are
adjusting processes and hope to be back to work in July,” says the
label’s co-founder, Anton Kore. “We continue to work selling stocks
that we produced before the war. We transfer part of the funds to
the armed forces and humanitarian aid, we cooperate with

Most, if not all, Ukrainian businesses still in operation are
making similar donations to the army, hospitals or aid
organisations. Sleeper has donated more than £27,000 to the army
and more than £16,000 to Ukraine’s largest children’s hospital,
Okhmatdyt. International sales are essentially part of the war
effort, as well as a much-needed morale boost for Ukrainians.
Overseas sales help “both practically and mentally,” says Olha
Norba. “In terms of emotional support, it is really inspiring to
see that people all around the globe care about our work and its

The Ukrainian craft brands to support now, and always

A silk bandana from Gunia Projects, a Ukrainian brand

Gunia Project

Natasha Kamenska and Maria Gavryliuk founded Gunia Project after
bonding over a shared interest in traditional ethnic culture while
volunteering at Kyiv’s Ivan Honchar Museum Centre of Folk Culture
in 2017. Describing their ceramics, jewellery and accessories as
“modern Ukrainian souvenirs”, they conduct extensive ethnographic
research and involve Ukrainian artists in every collection.

Sleeper, a Ukrainian clothing brand that is continuing to operate from the war-torn country


It’s the brand that made it okay to wear feather-trimmed pyjamas
and slippers outside the house, and its ubiquitous off-shoulder
dresses, with smock bodices in pastels or gingham, have taken on a
life of their own. These days, the Sleeper wardrobe is a lot
larger, while still staying true to the founders’ vision of
ethically crafted, high-quality, multipurpose garments.

An intricately painted necklace from Ukraine jeweller Oksana Boriychuk

Oksana Boriychuk

Jeweller Oksana Boriychuk is determined to keep producing her
highly symbolic necklaces and earrings from her workshop in Lviv,
Western Ukraine. “After all,” she says, “the necklace in the
Ukrainian tradition is an important amulet that was inherited from
our ancestors. Our customers send us messages that they hid the
necklace in their emergency suitcase, or gave it to a lady who
sheltered them in her home abroad.”

A rug from Ukraine-based textile brand, Gushka


Carpathian mountain sheep are prized for their soft but strong
wool, and Ukraine has built a centuries-old weaving industry on
their backs. Gushka taps into this history, making rugs and soft
furnishing by hand, and using only Carpathian wool, traditional
wooden looms and techniques passed down for generations. Among
their pieces are variations of the Ukrainian “lizhnyk”, a rug
traditionally used as a carpet, bed cover or blanket throughout the
owner’s life.

Sportswear from Norba, a Ukraine-based brand


When designer Olha Norba started working out in 2018 she was
frustrated by the range of sportswear on offer, so she joined with
sister Helen to plug the gap. The result, Norba, proves gym wear
can be beautiful as well as highly functional. At first it was all
about elegant neutrals, but now they are branching out. “At the
beginning, I wanted to stay away from too bright colours and bold
prints, focusing on the design and understated allure, but now
we’re experimenting with them as well,” says Olha.

A woven basket from Ukraine-based brand Katekor

Kate Kore

“Five years ago, we wanted to buy a leather tote shopping bag in
Kyiv,” says Anton Kore. “But it turns out it’s not so easy!” Before
he knew it, Anton and his wife Kateryna Kore had accidentally
started an accessories brand. Five years later, Kate Kore bags are
widely known for being both practical and stylish, thanks to their
classic, understated designs and quality materials.

Discover more stories from the Craft issue here.

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