How a Ukrainian designer turns discarded clothes into a symbol of hope
At first, Khomenko used her skills to help sew items for the Ukrainian army, but while working with local refugee organizations to collect clothes for the refugees, she began to notice the surplus of donated clothes. Many were not particularly useful to refugees and were therefore destined to be thrown away. “I was in volunteer centers and there were dirty sheets and erotic sex costumes, just unnecessary things at this point,” she says. With this in mind, Khomenko collected these damaged donations and began to merge the scraps of clothing using compression technology. (Unlike before, when Khomenko sewed pieces by hand, the compression technique allowed him to merge larger batches of garments in one go.)
The results, most of which are long-sleeved shirts, are striking: fused or patchwork discarded football shirts, their kaleidoscopic hues of pinks, oranges, reds and floral prints blend seamlessly together. At times, Khomenko intentionally infuses stripes of yellow and blue as a nod to the Ukrainian flag and as an intentional symbol of hope. “Ukraine is about destruction and reconstruction,” she says. “For so many years our culture has been destroyed, but we are rising again and again. This is my whole practice. Currently, each piece sells for $450 and Khomenko donates 50% of the profits to volunteers who help Ukrainians elderly and disabled unable to leave their homes.