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Ukrainian Outerwear Brand Ienki Ienki Channels Flower Power With Liberty Tie-up

Ukrainian puffer specialist Ienki Ienki, one of the country’s most successful luxe brands, has tied up with Liberty Fabrics, integrating the signature floral prints into key styles of its fall 2024 collection.

An array of floral designs in bright blue, pink and yellow hues, as well as a playful pattern spelling “Flower Power” created by London-based artist and illustrator Hattie Stewart, added to the extensive range the brand presented at the Rainbow Wave showroom in Paris.

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“This tie-up with Liberty actually started during the pandemic, because we were thinking of doing a collection of cozy homeware made from light poplin or light cotton, to have like a duvet on you which didn’t necessarily have to be water- and windproof,” recalled Ienki Ienki founder Dmytro Ievenko. “So we started to work with Liberty because they are very good in doing something like this, in home textiles.”

The first efforts were produced but never released, said Ievenko. Instead, the two parties continued to work together to eventually add special coating on fabrics that could combine light weights with performance. “So this collaboration is not just about the prints, but really about fabric development because they added a waterproof and windproof layer on their regular textiles specifically for us,” said Ievenko.

A look from the Ienki Ienki collaboration with Liberty Fabrics.
A look from the Ienki Ienki collaboration with Liberty Fabrics.

In addition to introducing lively patterns to the series of stylish monochrome and color-bloc down jackets and parkas the brand is most associated with, the tie-up also built on the new direction Ienki Ienki is embracing, that is of integrating lighter options into its collections as an answer both to the effects of climate change and to further grasp the business opportunities laying behind product expansion.

The rest of the brand’s fall 2024 collection offered ski designs ranging from sleek puffers to functional snowboard jackets, as well as après-ski options still crafted from high-performance materials but with a higher fashion quotient as they target also leisure occasions far from the slopes.

A look from the Ienki Ienki fall 2024 collection.
A look from the Ienki Ienki fall 2024 collection.

While the brand uses goose down instead of duck down in filling its puffers across all lines for enhanced warmth and lightness, ski collections enable Ienki Ienki to best experiment with technologies, via items featuring seam sealing and ultrasonic bonding, or made of the Gore-Tex Infinium fabric with the use of the windstopper technology, for example.

The company’s overarching design philosophy is making the outerwear category more appealing, seen through its bestselling pieces, which include the Michlin jacket, creating an hourglass silhouette on the body, and the couture-like Stardust ski overall, cut in flattering shape.

These designs have attracted Bella and Gigi Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, Hailey Bieber, Julianne Moore, Emilia Clarke and Grimes to the brand since Ievenko launched it in 2016.

A look from the Ienki Ienki fall 2024 collection.
A look from the Ienki Ienki fall 2024 collection.

The personalities resonate with Ienki Ienki’s core target of women over 30, “so not the super young girls but more the women who know what they want, who appreciate quality and who can also afford the price,” said Ievenko. The average retail price for a Ienki Ienki jacket is around 1,500 euros.

While he declined to share sales figures, Ievenko said women make up 85 percent of the total customer base and the top markets for the brand are South Korea and Europe, with an increasing business also generated in Japan, “where customers are very oriented on quality and the value of the product.”

“There’s also a huge potential in the U.S. but we are still not that present there,” said Ievenko. He noted that rather than big department stores and chains, in the market Ienki Ienki resonates better at small independent shops were customers can best learn about the brand and see the quality and artisanal approach behind its product, which is still manufactured in Ukraine with fabrics and components coming from Italy and Switzerland.

A look from the Ienki Ienki collaboration with Liberty Fabrics.
A look from the Ienki Ienki collaboration with Liberty Fabrics.

Overall, Ienki Ienki is distributed in 180 stores in 30 countries. Key retailers include Neiman Marcus in New York, Selfridges and Browns in London, Le Bon Marché and Printemps in Paris, Lane Crawford in Hong Kong, Opening Ceremony in Tokyo, 10 Corso Como in Seoul, Rinascente in Milan and KaDeWe in Berlin, to name a few.

These add to the likes of Net-a-porter, Moda Operandi and Ssense, as well as the brand’s own e-commerce, which Ievenko said gives him a better understanding of the brand’s audience.

Direct sales are performing well but still come with challenges due to the war, the founder said. “We can’t just ship products with DHL as before. Now we have to first deliver the items to our warehouse in Poland, and then from there we ship them with another courier,” he said.

A look from the Ienki Ienki fall 2024 collection.
A look from the Ienki Ienki fall 2024 collection.

It’s just one of the many hurdles the company faces every day to ensure the continuity of the business. “The hardest was to work during the blackouts,” said Ievenko, referring to Russian military infrastructure attacks. “We had and are having long periods of time staying without electricity and this is the biggest challenge. But we managed to buy big generators which work on gas and we’re continuing to work thanks to them. And of course, the other huge challenge is the psychological one, when you have to work with these sirens and without light.”

“But it’s already the second year of war and somehow you get used to it and adapt to these challenges, and on the other hand you start to be angry, in a good way,” continued Ievenko. “You say: ‘F—k it, we’ll do it.’ It’s so unfair and painful, but then you understand that you don’t want to give up and you won’t give up. And this is something I can see across all the people of my team, but also across all the Ukrainian people. Yes, it’s very hard, difficult and sometimes depressing, but it gives you another kind of energy.”

That’s also the reason why Ievenko never considered relocating the business elsewhere since Russia’s invasion of the country. He addressed the responsibility he felt toward all his 150 employees, in addition to the intrinsic spirit of resilience. “When the war started, we had a very hard time, it was a complete disaster. People sat in basements for weeks. So of course our first goal was [to ensure] the safety and security of workers and families and we didn’t work at all for few months,” he said. “Then we managed to continue to operate, and for me it was important to do it with our people. We managed not to lose any single worker…and we’re working quite good comparing to what is happening and the scenarios that could be.”

Dmitriy Ievenko, founder of Ienki Ienki.
Dmitriy Ievenko, founder of Ienki Ienki.

A marketing graduate, Ievenko started his career in fashion as a visual merchandiser before becoming marketing director at Ukraine’s prime luxury fashion retail group Helen Marlen. For a decade, he traveled to Paris and Milan to see collections, visit showrooms and get to know buyers, eventually realizing there was a gap in the market for fashionable and luxe puffers.

Hence he launched Ienki Ienki in 2016, involving talented Ukrainian designers he knew from his academic years. The project was an immediate success, as Ievenko recalled that the first collection including only three jacket styles in four colorways collected orders for 1.6 million euros in its first week of sales campaign in Paris. The pieces then sold out at the likes of Le Bon Marché, Barneys, Lane Crawford and Mytheresa at the time.

“I didn’t expect that result at all, I just wanted to start and see how it went,” he said. “But I understood the recipe was right and started to invest and develop the business and invite more people into the project,” said the founder. “The first collection was outsourced, still in Ukraine, but then we built our own production facility and we slowly grew up. And now we’re 150 people.”

A look from the Ienki Ienki fall 2024 collection.
A look from the Ienki Ienki fall 2024 collection.

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