‘Proud to be involved’: the Ukrainians making uniforms for the coronation

Ten refugees from Ukraine are working at Kashket & Partners, a firm creating uniforms for King Charles’s coronation

Emine Sinmaz – The Guardian – UK Version – 4 April

“When I escaped the war in Ukraine with my husband and two children, I had no idea that I would be playing a part in the coronation,” said Olga Radchenko.

She fled her home in the city of Dnipro in January and sought refuge and work in the UK. She is now one of 10 Ukrainian refugees working at Kashket & Partners, the specialist firm making up to 8,000 parade uniforms for King Charles III’s coronation on Saturday.

“I’m proud to be involved,” said Radchenko, 37, a tailor, who was busy creating new uniforms for the Tower of London’s Yeoman Warders, known as the Beefeaters. “I showed photos to my family and told them I was making uniforms for the king’s army. They also felt proud. I’m very happy to be working here.”

The family-run business holds the contract to provide military uniforms for the armed forces and is responsible for creating all of the uniforms for Saturday’s parade. Nathan Kashket, 25, who works alongside his father, Russell, 60, and his uncle, Marlon, 56, is the fourth generation of the family to head the firm. It was founded in the 1950s by his great-grandfather Alfred, who made hats for Tsar Nicholas II in Russia before moving to London.

Speaking from the company’s factory in Tottenham, north London, Nathan said the company’s cutters, tailors, seamstresses and embroiderers would be working round the clock until Friday to get out the new uniforms. They must also alter hundreds of existing uniforms to include the king’s CR III cypher in place of the late queen’s EIIR cypher.

“We’ll be going right to the wire,” said Nathan, who has been working at the company since he was 16. “We’re making absolutely everything, all the uniforms for the whole defence forces – the British army, RAF, navy and marines. We’re still working, and we will be pushing out as many uniforms as we can until the big day.”

Workers stitch uniforms to be worn during the coronation.
Workers stitch uniforms to be worn during the coronation. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

He added: “We’re so fortunate with the amazing skilled artisans out there who make everything look easy. If you go on to the factory floor, you see garments everywhere. And unless you know what’s going on, it does look like chaos, but it’s organised chaos.”

The Kashkets made Prince William and Harry’s respective wedding uniforms, and the military uniforms for the queen’s state funeral. Nathan said he felt “unbelievably proud” to be involved in the coronation. “I have an understanding of the work that goes into these parades, and they are what Great Britain takes the lead on. It’s an absolute honour.”

He is also proud of his family’s Jewish heritage and the company’s workforce, many of whom are immigrants from Vietnam, Ghana, India and Turkey. “I love working with different people and it’s amazing that we have so many different nationalities,” he said.

Albert Adusei, 64, who moved to the UK from Ghana in 1986, is the company’s longest-serving employee, with a 30-year record. “It’s great to be involved in the coronation. We’ve been preparing for it since last year,” said the master tailor, who is head of trouser production. “Of course it’s been stressful, I think the pressure started when the queen died.”

Timmy Ha, 55, who arrived in the UK from Vietnam in 1982, has also worked at the company for 30 years. “I started as an apprentice and I’m now the head cutter,” he said. “I had been working in fashion design but the company closed down and I went to the jobcentre and saw Kashket but I didn’t know they were making royal family uniforms.

“I’m very proud of myself for being involved with the royal family and when I see then on the TV wearing our uniforms, I tell my family and they’re very proud of me.”

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