A little Folky, A little Funky: Ukrainian Embroidery

As promised, the second deal-n-steal of the weekend: hand-embroidered Ukrainian pieces that you can actually afford (Google translate says яй! is Ukrainian for yay! - so we're going with that).

These traditional Ukrainian embroidered items entered the scene not so long ago (based on my shop-while-I-stalk tendencies, I remember Anna Dello Russo, Giovanna Battaglia, and Leandra Medine (aka the powers that be) were amongst the first to rock 'em).

From the second I laid my eyes on those colorful balloon sleeves and rich embroidered patterns I was a big (YUGE) fan. The research that ensued enlightened me to some valuable info, summarized as follows:

  1. Embroidery is an integral part of Ukrainian culture (who knew) - the country regards it as more than an art form and traces the practice back to BC times.
  2. There are different patterns and styles identified with the different regions of Ukraine, and each piece carries symbolic significance. For example, the blouse (known as a Vyshyvanka - va va voom), is believed to be a talisman that protects the one who wears it and the actual embroidery is purposely placed over parts of the body that are believed to be susceptible to penetration by evil spirits (neckline, cuff, shoulders). So so weird, but so so good. 
  3. The lines that brought these pieces into the fashion limelight are quite lux - aka quite expensive. These are a few off the tippy-top of my head: Vita Kin, March 11, and Yuliya Magdych
  4. Saving the best for last - I found other options that are so affordable, so customizable, and SO authentic (you know its the real deal when the packing slip says Tsekhop Lutsk as place of origin) - read all 'bout my experience below.

I was particularly fond of the skirt - so you can imagine my delight when I found Kate Veremchuk's Etsy store Smerichka (can't help but think she's lol-ing at us Shmericans). Her listing for the skirt advertised that it was totally customizable and only $150. Since I wasn't in the business (yet) of reinventing this color wheel, I sent her my measurements and a photo of a Vita Kin skirt for color choice inspo.

Bada bing, bada boom - about a month later, I can officially sit at the cool girls table with my skirt (pictured below) that cost me li-ter-a-lly 10% of what the lux brand costs, looks exactly the same, and is made by hand. 

Kate's store isn't the only affordable option out there - here are some other Etsy shops that sell similar (and really beautiful) Ukrainian fashion: FashionFromUkraine, FashionbyJulia, UkrNational, and EmbroideredFantasy.

I wore mine to the Rodeo yesterday - and felt like the real dealio. Here I am at the King Ranch Saddle Shop booth with Jerry Mejia, a craftsman whose been perfecting his skills for 13+ years. 

So while we're on the topic of how anything hecho-a-mano is that much more especial, I'll end the post with a shout out to Jerry. He makes saddles, leather sheathes, custom belts, and dabbles with floral and basket weave tooling - and his fingers got the battle wounds to prove it. Go check him out!