The Hidden Meaning Behind Vladimir Putin's Puffy Coat

Amidst the Russia-Ukraine war, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a rare public appearance at a pro-war rally held in Luzhniki Stadium on March 18, 2022. During his speech, Putin praised Russian troops fighting in Ukraine and said that all the goals of the Kremlin will be accomplished. "We know what we need to do, how to do it and at what cost. And we will absolutely accomplish all of our plans," he stated, per the New York Post. Reports indicate that the crowd reached 200,000 people, but some said that they were forced to attend, especially those who worked for the public sector. "I think most people here don't support the war. I don't," one man in attendance said.

One of the things members of the media noticed was the president's fashion choice, particularly the navy blue puffer jacket he donned on top of a cream-colored turtleneck sweater. The puffy coat is from the Italian fashion luxury brand Loro Piana, which, according to the South China Morning Post, retails for $14,000. The sweater he wore is also from an Italian brand, Kiton, and sells for $3,000. Experts opined that Putin choosing to wear expensive garb goes beyond fashion and has political undertones.

Politics and fashion

According to Andrew Bolton, the curator at The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, "Fashion functions as a mirror to our times, so it is inherently political," (via Vogue). Throughout the years, politicians from different nations tend to wear clothes manufactured by their own countries, especially during crucial times. The practice shows patriotism, which made Putin's choice to wear Italian brands odd, per NPR. The hefty price of the fashion pieces wasn't well-received too, especially with Russia's wealth plummeting with the ongoing war.

Fashion has a crucial role when it comes to politicians sending messages to their people. And although clothing seems like an inconsequential aspect to some, it speaks volumes about a politician's image. According to The New York Times, some politicians spend a lot of time figuring out the appropriate color, designer, and style to wear, more so during important public appearances. "It's been used to express patriotic, nationalistic, and propagandistic tendencies as well as complex issues related to class, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality," Bolton stated, which is one of the reasons why public figures' fashion choices are dissected by experts.

Vladimir Putin's fashion choices

Some are questioning Vladimir Putin's choice of clothing at the pro-war rally, since the value of his puffy coat alone is equivalent to more than twice the average annual salary of Russians, according to The Daily Mail. Yana Morozova, a Ukrainian and Russian interpreter, wrote, "While Russian people are fighting for food in stores, Putin addressed 90,000 Russians wearing a Loro Piana puffer jacket for 1.5 million rubles."

Marlen Komar, a writer specializing in fashion history, interpreted Putin's fashion choice in an interview with NPR. She stated that wearing an expensive jacket is strategic for Putin, as it is part of his propaganda to oppose reports that Russia is "a poor, suffering country that is on the brink of collapse behind its exterior image." Other experts say that Putin's typical fashion choices show how much he is detached from ordinary Russian citizens. Putin is known to wear luxurious clothing and has worn pieces from Brioni, Kiton, Ferragamo, and Valentino — all lavish brands. Per Quartz, he has also been observed sporting costly and rare watches, such as Patek Philippe, Blancpain, and Breguet.

Petition for fashion house to denounce Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin's expensive puffy coat has resulted in a petition for Loro Piana to denounce the Russian president. The petition on was started by Moscow radio reporter Karine Orlova, who stated that Putin appeared "as the face of Loro Piana." Meanwhile, the company has donated €5 million aid to Ukraine for war efforts, as well as yarn and blankets for Ukrainians who have lost everything due to the war. Orlova posed the question, "Do they enjoy being represented by such an ambassador as Vladimir Putin? Is this how Loro Piana wants to be remembered in history?"

Pier Luigi Loro Piana, the chairman of the luxury brand, released a statement where he said that Putin wearing the brand's puffer jacket "creates some embarrassment from a human point of view," (via La Repubblica). Loro Piana closed its stores in Russia when the invasion of Ukraine began in March, and the branches will remain closed indefinitely. Piana said that Putin purchased the puffer coat some time ago and that the company is firm in its stance in supporting Ukraine. "It is clear which side we have chosen to be on. I do not feel guilty for that flaunted jacket worn on stage, but I believe that Putin should reflect on the massacre he is causing Ukrainian people to live," Piana stated.