Haute cou­ture doc­tors ready to fix old goods

Kyiv Post - - Lifestyle - BY DENIS RAFALSKY [email protected] Kyiv Post staff writer Denis Rafalsky can be reached at [email protected] com

Un­for­tu­nately, even the most ex­pen­sive clothes wear out, and those de­signer shoes lose their lux­u­ri­ous looks. But don’t de­spair if your fa­vorite $800 pair of Manolo Blah­nik lost its shine: Kyiv of­fers a cure for that.

Af­ter the fi­nan­cial cri­sis of 2008, Kyiv has gained a small army of peo­ple who are good with their hands and can fix what the French tailors and Ital­ian shoe­mak­ers cre­ated, sav­ing the lux­ury brand lovers a pretty penny.

Dozens of web­sites in Ukraine advertise ser­vices such as re­pairs and dry clean­ing that give your lux­ury at­tire and ac­ces­sories a sec­ond life.

Ti­mofei Pol­ishchuk, a 32-year old shoe mas­ter, has a gallery on his web­site, http://tim­o­theus.com.ua, of the be­fore and af­ter: what the shoes look like that his clients brought in, and what they look like af­ter he is done with them. They ar­rive shabby and stained, but are trans­formed un­der Polischuk’s skill­ful hands.

The gallery fea­tures brands like Cer­ruti, Chloe, Prada, Yves Saint Lau­rent and oth­ers, a pair of which of­ten costs more than an av­er­age Ukrainian wage, which cur­rently stands at Hr 2,923.

Pol­ishchuk opened his small shoe­mend­ing busi­ness in 2003, mov­ing on to elite footwear and ac­ces­sories about six years later, af­ter the fi­nan­cial cri­sis hit. His re­pairs are done in a shop in the Darnyt­skyi dis­trict of Kyiv on the left bank, so he opened a col­lec­tion cen­ter in the heart of the city, closer to his rich clients.

The most ex­pen­sive item that Pol­ishchuk has ever fixed was a crocodile skin bag worth Hr 500,000. It spent such a long time on a shelf of a Kyiv bou­tique that its cor­ners rubbed off, and he was asked to freshen it up.

“With the price be­ing so high the ap­pear­ance must be ideal,” he says. He re­fused to name the bou­tique, though, say­ing the shop gives him a lot of busi­ness.

Pol­ishchuk says the mas­ter should not be in­tim­i­dated or even con­scious about the price of the item he’s han­dling. “You don’t care about the price if you work care­fully and thor­oughly. If you spoil the item, that just says that you are not con­fi­dent of your skill,” he says.

But the mas­tery comes at a high price, too. Pol­ishchuk says he has been work­ing on one pair of Ital­ian Casadei shoes for more than three weeks. The av­er­age price of Casadei is about Hr 7,000. His work will cost Hr 1,600, Pol­ishchuk says.

Women’s de­signer shoes are very la­bor in­ten­sive be­cause they of­ten have heals made of mixed ma­te­ri­als, in­clud­ing plas­tic and me­tal and are cov­ered with leather.

Natalia Hly­pavka, a process en­gi­neer at Lo­tus Pre­mium dry cleaner’s, says clients are ready to pay a lot to make their fa­vorite de­signer things shine.

“Ex­pen­sive things are not dis­pos­able and are usu­ally beau­ti­ful and fa­vorite [pos­ses­sions],” Hly­pavka as­sures. “If a dress tears apart at the seams or the em­broi­dery gets dam­aged, the item can still be saved. Just ap­ply to us as, the doc­tors.”

Her shop that han­dles such re­pairs has been around since 2009, and gets a lot of lux­ury items to take care of. “The firm has good clients even from Moscow. Once we helped peo­ple that were turned down in the Rus­sian cap­i­tal and Switzer­land,” she says.

Kristina Litvi­nova, a 29-year-old re­cruit­ing di­rec­tor of a re­tail com­pany in Kyiv, is a reg­u­lar user of elite clothes fix­ers. “Once they helped me with chang­ing the bro­ken zip­per on Chanel bag, the next time my boyfriend’s Lager­feld shirt was cleaned and sewed on missed buttons,” Litvi­nova says. “I don’t know where they take the sim­i­lar gear; things don’t look like they were re­paired at all.”

“I’m happy there are mas­ters that can help me with fa­vorite clothes,” Litvi­nova adds. “If there is some­thing wrong with the dress fit­ting you per­fectly and you know you can’t get an­other one be­cause it’s from the past col­lec­tion, their magic hands will do what­ever is nec­es­sary to save the thing.”

Some of the items come from de­sign­ers them­selves: An­dre Tan and Olexiy Zalevskiy and reg­u­lar clients of Lo­tus Pre­mium, for ex­am­ple. Some of the clients help out in the cleaner’s work by bring­ing ex­tra lengths of the pre­cious fab­rics, or de­tails of dec­o­ra­tion.

“When we get a dif­fi­cult as­sign­ment, we look for ev­ery pos­si­ble so­lu­tion, but it can de­lay the fix­ing times, but clients agree to it,” Hly­pavka says, adding that wealthy clients un­der­stand the value of their pos­ses­sions. “They are rich be­cause they are not care­less. A well-kept, saved thing is worth a new one.”

Apart from skill, it takes good equip­ment to han­dle such complicate­d jobs. The equip­ment that shoe mas­ter Polischuk and his as­sis­tants use is Ger­man, while the ma­te­ri­als are Ital­ian and French. It re­flects on the price, but ad­e­quate qual­ity can­not be found in Ukraine, Pol­ishchuk claims.

Tat­tered lux­ury clothes get a sec­ond life with the help of an in­dus­try that is flour­ish­ing in Kyiv. (Ukrafoto)

A worker re­pairs an ex­pen­sive leather shoe in a spe­cial­ized work­shop in Kyiv opened by Ti­mofei Polischuk (Kostyan­tyn Ch­er­nichkin)

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