SINGAPORE — Last June 11, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy sought support to end the war in his country during a virtual speech to delegates at the Shangri-La Dialogue. No one among the attendees expected him to open the address the way he did — talking about his wardrobe choice.
It’s not just any other wardrobe choice, though. Zelenskyy was donning a t-shirt with an NFT image of a girl spray painting the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag. He drew the audience’s attention to it, saying it was designed by a “girl from Singapore.”
Said girl is 16-year-old fashion designer Ava Soh. Zelenskyy explained that Soh had written him a letter asking for his help to raise awareness for “Spray Paint Ukraine”, an initiative raising funds for the country following Russia’s invasion.
“This is a request from this girl for her idea, her confidence that the president of Ukraine will really respond to her initiative, and that I will be willing to help is of crucial importance,” he said.
“Would [Russian President Vladimir Putin] just read the letter coming from the embassy in Singapore proposing to support the idea of a girl whom he doesn’t know? Would he wear the shirt?” he asked rhetorically. “I think that this is impossible.”
On the Instagram page of Daughters of the Revolution, Soh’s fashion brand, she wrote, “I’ve illustrated an NFT called Spray Paint Ukraine. It’s a young Ukrainian girl defiantly painting a new future because self-belief is the best middle finger to oppression.”
“I only found that he would wear it when I was watching it,” Soh told Channel News Asia. “I didn’t even think that he would wear it or talk about it. But the fact that he talked about it, I was just very shocked.”
The fundraising was done through the limited drop of 100 wearable NFTs with a free t-shirt at bigbeyond.io and the t-shirts were sold at dotrdotr.com as well.
Even at her young age, Soh is not a stranger to creating pieces that represent a larger advocacy. When she was 13, she launched a jewelry collection called “Cinta Diri” that was part of a campaign for self-love and empowerment among women.
Check out adobo Magazine’s feature on her and her work here.