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TG Botanical's veggie-dyed collection stood for us an image of hope

Defying unimaginable difficulties, TG Botanical proved that determination, creativity, and skill can provide a beacon of hope in dark times.
Defying unimaginable difficulties, TG Botanical proved that determination, creativity, and skill can provide a beacon of hope in dark times.

TG Botanical, Thursday 2. February 2023 at 11.00

As a Ukrainian clothing brand based near Kiev, TG Botanical has faced logistical, practical, and psychological challenges over the past year that are incomprehensible to most of us. From the onset, the company had a remarkably localized approach to sustainable production – the fabrics are made from locally grown crops, and the clothes are made entirely in-house – and so the impact of the Russian invasion affected every aspect of their work, with harvests destroyed, electricity in scarce supply and frequent missile attacks forcing staff to hide in shelters. So the opportunity to show during Copenhagen Fashion Week as part of the Zalando Sustainability Award was not something that founder Tatyana Chumak felt she could ignore, whatever monumental personal effort it took to create the collection. And this is no Nero-style fiddling whilst Kiev burns – the textile and clothing industry in Ukraine is a huge part of the economy and needs support and recognition.  It’s fair to say then, that at the start of their show on Thursday morning, emotions were running high.

Politics aside, what TG Botanical showed was an assured and confident collection with a true sense of craftsmanship evident in both fit and construction. Vegetable-dyed denim with twin-needle stitching was fashioned into corsets, fitted skirts, and flared jeans, the heavy fabric contrasting with ultra-light jersey. This play-on texture was exaggerated with a knitted fabric that had a heavy bubble-like surface and was used in slim skirts and laced-up bandeau tops.

The few pieces of outerwear in the collection came in the form of short, utility-style jackets with one stand-out piece resembling shearling but in fact, made from hemp.  The DOGMA-style approach to sustainable fabrics of course brings its own limitations and on some hands that can lead to a worthy but sometimes very hippy aesthetic. Thankfully that was, for the most part, avoided here with body-skimming silhouettes and semi-transparent fabrics adding an undeniable sexiness – the closing passage of off-white siren dresses had an ethereal beauty that could, in a different context, be an almost red carpet. One hope going forward is that Chumak can source vegetable dyes in a wider range of shades: an injection of color would have been a nice counterpoint to a very neutral palette. But, as the cheers rang out as she took her bow at the end, we were all reminded that fashion is not only about the clothes but can symbolize hope, bravery, and defiance in a desperate and unstable situation.

See the entire collection here