The fleece jacket Volodymyr Zelenskyy can often be spotted wearing since Russia invaded Ukraine normally retails for around $30. But at an auction benefit last Thursday in London, it sold for over £90,000 ($110,000).
The Ukrainian president has relied on this simple olive green look since war broke out, whether it’s in meetings with Nancy Pelosi or addressing international media from an underground subway station. It’s a kind of war-time wardrobe that signals solidarity with ordinary Ukrainians and plays up a narrative of a Russian Goliath and Ukrainian David, earning him admiration around the world.
At last Thursday night’s “Brave Ukraine” charity fundraiser, UK prime minister Boris Johnson kicked off the night by describing Zelenskyy as “truly one of the most incredible leaders of modern times”. Ukraine’s embassy in the UK, which organized the auction, did not reveal who bought the fleece, which was signed by Zelenskyy.
Other items in the auction included a tour of Kyiv with its mayor Vitali Klitschko, toys donated by Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska, and photographs by late journalist Maks Levin, which helped raised over £1 million in funds for a Ukrainian children’s hospital.
Since the start of the war, online users have tried to sleuth out the brands Zelenskyy relies on—with California label 5.11 and Austrian Carinthia products among his outfit staples. The president’s olive green fleece is made by a Ukrainian tactical gear maker called M-TAC. “You have no idea how many images of Zelensky visiting random trenches and hospitals I had to sift through to figure this out,” wrote one Redditor.
But those interested in emulating Zelenskyy’s auction fleece style are out of luck for the time being. “We have lots of people taking an interest in this fleece and wanting to buy it,” said Taras Rudnytskyi, who is Ukrainian and manages M-TAC in the US. “We plan to restock it in the future but now it’s impossible. Production was completely located in Ukraine…maybe after victory.”
Rudnytskyi said the brand is one of the largest tactical gear makers in Ukraine, although it does not supply the country’s army directly. The company also operates a sizable business in the US. Other M-TAC items are also running low, both in the US and in Ukraine. People are buying them because “it’s raising the spirit of their warriors when they wear the same fleece as their president,” he said.
Started five years ago, according to the company 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. Sneakers from the brand are also affordably priced, starting at $32, while tactical pants are $60 and up—very different price tags from the lavish $14,000 puffer jackets Russian president Vladimir Putin prefers.