Threads of Resilience: Unveiling Cultural Narratives through Fashion

Written by: Krystyna Kalishevska

In the Fall semester of 2023, the Lakeshore campus hosted a ground-breaking fashion history exhibition. Collaborating across disciplines, Bachelor of Commerce students from the Fashion Management and Digital Business Management programs joined forces to create an innovative museum experience. Their collective effort resulted in a curated collection that transcends the typical Eurocentric approaches to fashion history, showcasing the rich diversity of global fashion.

This project goes beyond traditional boundaries, supporting equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives by reimagining the curriculum and empowering students to reflect on their own clothing uses as a medium for self-expression. 

Among the showcased pieces in the exhibition, a notable highlight was my embroidered shirt, known as a “Vyshyvanka,” which holds profound cultural significance to my homeland, Ukraine. 

The story behind my Vyshyvanka extends beyond its aesthetic appeal. With roots deeply embedded in Ukrainian traditions, this garment serves as a poignant reminder of the cultural richness that transcends generations. The meticulous craftsmanship involved in creating each piece pays homage to a legacy of artistry and skill passed down through time. The choice of natural materials, such as cotton and linen, not only enhances the comfort of the Vyshyvanka but also speaks to a connection with the land and nature—a testament to the resourcefulness of Ukrainian craftsmanship. The diversity in embroidery techniques, ranging from the classic cross-stitch to intricate satin stitches, reflects the geographic and stylistic nuances ingrained in Ukrainian heritage.

In the face of adversity, the Vyshyvanka has taken on a new role as a symbol of resilience and unity. Particularly in the wake of the ongoing war in Ukraine, wearing this embroidered shirt has become a tangible expression of solidarity and pride. It’s a silent proclamation of cultural identity and an affirmation of the enduring spirit of the Ukrainian people. My modernized version of the Vyshyvanka stands as a bridge between tradition and contemporary fashion. It has seamlessly integrated into the modern wardrobe, becoming a trendy and casual piece with a street-style flair. This adaptation, however, does not dilute its cultural significance; rather, it amplifies its reach and relevance, allowing the Vyshyvanka to transcend geographical boundaries and speak to a global audience.

Нині Всесвітній день вишиванки (цікаві факти про самобутню культурну  спадщину українців) - Галичина

In the tapestry of fashion showcased during the exhibition, my Vyshyvanka served not only as a representation of Ukrainian heritage but also as a narrative thread weaving together history, resilience, and the ever-evolving nature of cultural identity. Through garments like these, the exhibition aimed not just to display fashion but to tell stories that resonate with the hearts of visitors, fostering understanding and appreciation for the diverse tapestry of global cultures.

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