Ukrainian-born designer Tamara Davydova founded the circular fashion brand Minimalist, with the goal of creating a more sustainable solution to a woman’s wardrobe.
With the Russian invasion of Ukraine happening now, Davydova believes it's important to use her platform and brand to raise money and awareness of the ongoing conflict.
We sat down with Tamara to discuss how she has been impacted by the tragedy, and what the fashion industry as a whole can do to show its support.
As a Ukrainian citizen and woman of influence, what responsibility do you feel to raise money and awareness for the Russian invasion of Ukraine?
I was born and raised in Ukraine. Kyiv is the city where I was born, where I spent my childhood, where I studied at the art academy. My husband and I got married at the Kyiv Botanical Gardens. My family and circle of childhood friends are still there. It's been devastating watching the war unfold. To date my loved ones have stayed safe--but thousands have not been so lucky and millions are fleeing the violence.
How is Minimalist specifically supporting women and children impacted by this tragedy?
I'm trying to do what I can to support organizations in Ukraine helping women and children affected by senseless violence. To raise funds, I'm donating 30% of my proceeds to the Red Cross and UNICEF in Ukraine.
What can the fashion community do as a whole to raise awareness for this conflict?
It’s been remarkable to see the fashion community come together to support Ukraine. The industry is very influential across the globe and it’s been incredible to see brands taking action to raise awareness and funds for Ukraine relief efforts.
Can you talk a bit about Minimalist’s brand mission? How has this changed in the wake of tragedy?
I conceived Minimalist as an antidote to the traditional linear fashion system, steeped in the standard practices of waste and excess. The collection’s purpose is to maximize purpose in a woman’s wardrobe while minimizing the impact on the planet.
Minimalist is anchored in timeless design, luxurious fabrics sourced from Europe, Japan, and finishes that ensure a garment will retain its value for the option of resale and the ultimate goal of recyclability. I designed the collection with a closed-loop circular future in mind.
How are Ukrainian businesses impacted by this tragedy?
It’s been inspiring to see how the fashion community in Ukraine mobilized to manufacture uniforms for Ukrainian troops. Yet so many people are now displaced and supply chain disruptions are making it difficult to continue. It’s hard to imagine the true magnitude of the impact on the industry this conflict will yield.
We’ve seen how the New York fashion industry and local manufacturing were impacted during Covid 19 outbreak. I was there to see it first hand. Most factories pivoted to manufacturing PPE for the medical personnel during the crisis to help and to survive. It was a difficult time for NYC’s garment industry, but it recovered stronger than ever with increased domestic manufacturing right here in NYC. I’m hopeful that this will be the case for Ukrainian businesses, as well.
The fashion industry is oftentimes viewed as frivolous, however, they are oftentimes major players in social change reform. How is your work with Unicef and the Red Cross dismantling this narrative?
At Minimalist, social and environmental justice are at our core. The collection is produced entirely in New York City’s garment center in an effort to support local factories, fair wages, and working conditions for jobs that are mostly held by women. It’s not surprising that our customers are women leaders who are already driving systemic change and want to be involved by supporting what matters.
Photography by: Courtesy Minimalist