Elena Kovulchuk is the principal designer of EVOLVE, a Ukrainian luxury handbag design company. Evolve bags are made with the finest Italian leathers and fabrics, designed and created by Elena’s in-house team and manufacturing facility based in Odessa, Ukraine. We are so honored to carry these exquisite bags and to share Elena’s story, and that of her company, as it continues to produce the highest quality product as war rages around them. Thank you Elena for your candid and heartfelt responses. Our thoughts are with you and your beautiful country and we pray for your peace and a return to life as you once knew it. 

Is the EVOLVE team all together in one country or have you all be separated? If so, how has communication within your company been affected?  Can you please describe the changes, adjustments to production, design, and delivery? 

I am currently living in Germany. My aim is to continue providing stock to our foreign partners worldwide, who carry EVOLVE bags online and in their showrooms. We have representation in Italy, Arab Emirates, The United States and Saudi Arabia, to name a few. To date, our product continues to be delivered promptly and safely. 

Most of my team are in Ukraine now. The manufacturing team, who work so hard to bring my designs to life, are genuine patriots of our country. They won’t leave Ukraine (at least while they can stay in Odesa where our manufacturing is located, and where their families, communities and lives are). I believe strongly in considering our employee’s family needs, and as such I support their decisions about where they live. We have spoken about plans should we need to move our manufacturing facility elsewhere in Europe, but strongly hope and believe that that will not be necessary. 

Do you expect your designs, color schemes, details.. i.e. your art, to be influenced by how you are feeling and if so, what will that look like? 

War certainly has had a profound effect on me. It strikes me as steel and I feel it in every pore of my body. Fear and horror has embraced us. Fear for our relatives, loved ones, children and mothers, men and women, the elderly, and our animals is all encompassing in the darkest months of war. Survival and fear dominate every waking minute. In the early months of war, I didn't want to drink or eat. Everything else seemed meaningless. This war has made me appreciate every aspect of life. It can not be taken for granted again. I want to feel every gust of wind and sunbeam, listen to the birdies sing, and the rustle of grass. Today a riot of colors and the magnificent patterns in nature cause me genuine delight. Nature shows us, in its majestic beauty, that life can trump death, that good can defeat evil, and that true beauty and love are all around us. When I prepared for the spring-summer 23 season I knew precisely that the collection must be and would be life-affirming like nature itself. I used not only peaceful, natural tones, but also the brightest, the craziest and the most refreshing ones. The highlights of the collection are two bags from the Fragment collection, which have unusual prints: one reflecting a frozen red berry in ice, and the other capturing the sun glare on water. The design is reminiscent of our very origin and the purity of untouched nature. They are calming, soothing designs intended to calm the soul and restore our strength, especially during such troubling times. My goal was to create something that sparked eternal, timeless beauty and value. Nature is our cure, our strength, and this collection affirms my belief in a bright and better future.