Less than a month into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the idle commentators have already run out of things to say about President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s signature olive-green tee shirt. It has a historical precedent, it’s actually tactical gear, it’s a look for French President Emmanuel Macron to rip off because he wants to look cool, too. Soon, a cottage industry of plain green shirts screen-printed with a graphic of Zelenskyy’s plain green shirt onto it will pop up on Redbubble and Etsy, and then we will finally be done talking about Zelenskyy’s shirt.
So we must move on in our quest to fulfill readers’ rabid appetite for “the fashion angle” of war. Which means it’s time to discuss the Ukrainian president’s evil foil’s winter jacket. Putin’s puffer: political?!
Very, according to the sartorial minds at NPR. Vladimir Putin’s jacket is a $14,000 parka from Loro Piana, an Italian luxury brand he wears often. Speaking to political fashion experts — who must be in high demand these days — for the piece, NPR comes to a genius conclusion: the coat is one of many examples of an “information war” Putin is engaging in.
“The coat is a strategic part of Putin's propaganda machine which operates day and night to combat reports portraying Russia ‘as a poor, suffering country that is on the brink of collapse behind its exterior image,’” fashion historian Marlen Komar tells NPR.
Not to be outdone, The Telegraph closes out its own damning piece on Putin’s jacket with a thought-provoking dichotomy that also strangely makes me want to buy a Loro Piana coat:
Residents of Mariupol shiver in their bomb shelters and die on the streets. Russians live in fear, ignorance and financial ruin. But Vladimir Putin is warm, trussed up in fine quilted cashmere. Loro Piana coats use its trademark Storm System® technology. “Thanks to Storm System barrier, your fabric will always be protected,” its website boasts. If only the same could be said of the Ukrainian people.
There’s the razor-sharp insight at the intersection of fashion and politics that we need in these trying times. People are dying, and Putin’s jacket has a patent.