The fleece jacket that Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been wearing often since Russia invaded Ukraine normally sells for around $30. But at an auction last Thursday in London, it sold for over £90,000 ($110,000).
Ukraine’s president has relied on that simple olive green gaze since war broke out, whether in meetings with Nancy Pelosi or speaking to international media from an underground subway station. It is a kind of war wardrobe that signals solidarity with ordinary Ukrainians and plays a role narrative of a Russian Goliath and a Ukrainian David, earning him worldwide admiration.
At last Thursday evening’s ‘Brave Ukraine’ charity fundraiser, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson kicked off the evening by describing Zelenskyy as “truly one of the most incredible leaders of modern times”. The Ukrainian Embassy in the UK, which organized the auction, did not reveal who bought the fleece, which was signed by Zelenskyy.
Other auction items included a tour of Kyiv with its mayor Vitali Klitschko, toys donated by Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska and photographs of the late journalist Marc Levinwho helped raise over £1million in funds for a Ukrainian children’s hospital.
Zelenskyy fleece is made in Ukraine
Since the start of the war, netizens have tried to unearth the brands that Zelenskyy relies on, with California label 5.11 and Austrian products from Carinthia among his staple outfits. The president’s olive green fleece is made by a Ukrainian tactical gear manufacturer called M-TAC. “You have no idea how many images of Zelensky visiting trenches and random hospitals I had to sift through to figure this out,” wrote a Redditor.
But those who wish to emulate Zelenskyy’s fleece style are out of luck at the moment. “We have a lot of people who are interested in this fleece and want to buy it,” said Taras Rudnytskyi, who is Ukrainian and runs M-TAC in the United States. “We plan to restock it in the future, but now it’s impossible. The production was entirely localized in Ukraine… maybe after the victory.
Rudnytskyi said the brand is one of the largest manufacturers of tactical gear in Ukraine, although it does not directly supply the country’s military. The company also operates a significant business in the United States. Other M-TAC items are also down, both in the US and Ukraine. People buy them because “it uplifts the spirit of their warriors when they wear the same fleece as their president,” he said.
Launched five years ago, according to the company’s website, M-TAC describes itself as “a brand for everyone.” Although Zelenskyy’s exact fleece is out of stock, the US website has a similar hoodie style for $30. The brand’s sneakers are also at affordable prices, starting at $32while tactical pants are $60 and more — prices very different from the sumptuous $14,000 puffer jackets that Russian President Vladimir Putin favors.