Ukrainian fashion brand Milla Nova, known for its decadent wedding gowns, is now producing attire for the country’s soldiers and medical workers, as Russia continues to launch its brutal attack on the country. Stocked in bridal boutiques across 50 countries including the US, UK, France and China, employees of Milla Nova have been working tirelessly over the last two weeks to fulfill international dress orders while also making these additional garments. “Along with making brides around the globe happy, we are focused on saving our country,” said the company’s CEO Ulyana Kyrychuk, who is fiercely determined to continue to sustain the business despite the many serious challenges of the war.
Photos from Milla Nova shared with CNN show women knitting military nets, and seamstresses sewing fleece hoodies and assault vests in traditional army camouflage. Working with its network of suppliers, the brand was able to quickly source necessary materials for production. Kyrychuk told CNN they have already made 1,500 items..
Kyrychuk said she began putting a series of plans in place ahead of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and is focused on supporting her staff, explaining every decision she’s made is “with the people in mind.”Many staff are making long journeys through Lviv, where the company is headquartered, to reach the factories — working overtime to help make the clothing to support Ukraine’s defense efforts, on top of their regular duties. Kyrychuk confirmed all employees were paid in February and her management team is working “around the clock to organize business processes and pay our people.”
“My main goal as CEO is to protect people and ensure their tomorrow,” she said, adding that they are also ready to take on new employees from eastern Ukraine who have recently become refugees.
Milla Nova currently employs 600 workers. Those based in Lviv were given the option to go to neighboring Poland, where a makeshift workshop was set up in Warsaw following the invasion. So far 70 employees have been evacuated to the Polish capital. Some 450 staff remain in Lviv while others have made their own plans to flee to the countryside or out of Ukraine. With a workforce of 98% women, many of whom are mothers, relocation by the company has involved many young children.
The seamstresses in Poland have been sewing special edition Ukraine-themed dresses in yellow and blue, and some of their children have been involved in making these gowns as a way to boost morale. Kyrychuk said the plan is to sell them as NFTs (non-fungible tokens) to raise charitable funds for Ukraine. She hopes they will be able to eventually switch their efforts from army needs to the rebuilding of destroyed cities.Kyrychuk said she was “so proud” of her team and their “incredible dedication and loyalty,” pointing to the important role of women in war who must care and protect, “pray and believe.”