Why Zelenskyy wore a T-shirt designed by a Singaporean teen during a recent international summit

Ava Soh Ukraine
  • During the Shangri-La Dialogue, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was seen deviating from his usual attire in favor of a T-shirt designed by 16-year-old Singaporean Ava Soh.
  • The shirt he wore featured an NFT of a girl on a ladder, spray painting a large Ukrainian flag.
  • The NFT represents a “young Ukrainian girl defiantly painting a new future because self-belief is the best middle finger to oppression,” according to Soh’s company website.
  • Ava Soh first created her brand, Daughters of the Revolution, at age 14 to “empower the next generation of 21st century heroines through self love.”
  • In his address, President Zelenskyy presented Ava Soh and her initiative as an example of the support Ukraine has gained worldwide, citing it as why Ukraine will prevail.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy broke from his usual attire in favor of a young Singaporean designer’s T-shirt for a recent international appearance.

On Tuesday, Zelenskyy attended the annual 19th Regional Security Summit Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore to present a special virtual address to delegates. The Ukrainian president was seen on screen deviating from his usual green or brown attire by wearing a black T-shirt designed by 16-year-old Singaporean Ava Soh.

After thanking those in attendance, Zelenskyy quickly addressed the reasoning behind his change in fashion. “So when I was preparing to this meeting, I was told about one girl. She wrote me a letter asking to support her initiative called Spray Paint Ukraine. This is the initiative aimed at helping Ukraine,” he stated. 

The shirt he wore featured an NFT of a girl spray painting a large Ukrainian flag while on a ladder. According to Soh’s company website, Daughters of the Revolution, the NFT represents a “young Ukrainian girl defiantly painting a new future because self-belief is the best middle finger to oppression.” She chose to feature a young girl because “half the world are women.”

Soh’s creation of the illustration took two to three weeks, Soh shared with The Straits Times. She spent much of her time perfecting the young girl’s pose and incorporating Ukraine’s traditional dress. An additional three weeks were taken to finetune the illustration, mint it as an NFT and put it up for sale.

Soh, a national figure skater, first created her brand, Daughters of the Revolution (DOTR), at age 14. Her goal is to “empower the next generation of 21st century heroines through self love.” Her decision to create “Spray Paint Ukraine” stemmed from Soh’s deliberation on how to aid war-torn Ukraine after  speaking with Ukrainian Ambassador Kateryna Zelenko on the matter.

“All proceeds will be donated, not pledged, to the Ukrainian Embassy in Singapore,” Soh said about the money collected from sales of the T-shirt.

When Soh first saw the Ukrainian president wearing her design and speaking about her initiative, she was reportedly shocked, as she had sent the shirt to the president via the Ukrainian embassy in Singapore only a week before. 

“It was very unexpected for me … If he could even hold it in his hands, that would be enough for me. But the fact that he wore it and talked about the project, it was a very emotional moment for me,” Soh told The Straits Times.

However, this is not the end for Soh, who shared that there “may be more Ukraine-themed NFTs in the mix” she hopes will aid the “urgent cause.”

In his address, Zelenskyy presented Ava Soh and her initiative as an example of the support Ukraine has gained worldwide. That valuable support is “why we are definitely going to prevail in this war, which Russia has started,” he declared.

 

Feature Image via The International Institute for Strategic Studies (left), Ava Soh (right)

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