It’s no secret that the business model of the fast fashion industry is to churn out trends as quickly and cheaply as possible, often neglecting human rights, animal welfare and environmental sustainability in pursuit of that goal. The Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh was a wake-up call for the world, showing us that our mindless consumption of cheap products comes with a tragic cost.
Slow fashion, also referred to as sustainable fashion or fair fashion, is the response to the harsh reality of the fast fashion industry. Instead of churning out trends at the lowest cost without regard to the social and environmental impacts, it’s about emphasizing craftsmanship, quality and tradition, with a respect for biodiversity and human rights.
As slow fashion advocate Kate Fletcher wrote in an article in The Ecologist:
Slow fashion is about designing, producing, consuming and living better. Slow fashion is not time-based but quality-based (which has some time components). Slow is not the opposite of fast – there is no dualism – but a different approach in which designers, buyers, retailers and consumers are more aware of the impacts of products on workers, communities and ecosystems…
Slow fashion, with the shift from quantity to quality, takes the pressure off time. It allows suppliers to plan orders, predict the numbers of workers needed and invest in the longer term.
The global movement towards slower fashion is relevant for both producers and consumers. For producers, its about scrutinizing their whole supply chain and cleaning it up, including the growing and treatment of cotton, the manufacturing of clothes, the transport of finished garments, the operation of retail spaces, the education of consumers and the recycling of discarded garments. Fortunately an increasing number of genuinely sustainable alternatives are popping up. These brands are making efforts to not only use organic textiles, but also to offer fair conditions to workers (as certified with the Fair Wear certificate), use less toxic dyes and other chemicals in production, and to offer a take-back and recycling service for old garments.
But the success of the slow fashion movement also calls for a little work on the side of consumers. We are after all the ones who are buying and throwing away too much. For many, documentaries like The True Cost and Out of Fashion are enough to motivate them to turn their back on fast fashion and instead favor a slowed down approach. This means no longer buying the latest trends at the lowest price but instead taking time to find high quality, timeless pieces that will last more than a season, and only shopping from brands or shops that offer fairtrade, organic, sustainable and recycled/second-hand options.
Fashion Revolution, an international non-profit organization with chapters all around the world, is all about mobilizing a global community of people who would like to improve standards in the fashion industry. Many cities, including Prague, have a chapter of Fashion Revolution as well as other local slow fashion initiatives, and we encourage you to reach out to them to find out more about local events and alternative places to buy clothes. Here in Prague, a bi-annual event called SLOU Fashion Days is the best place to meet Prague’s sustainable fashion scene. But even if you miss those events and are in Prague looking for slow and sustainable fashion, we’ve rounded up six great options for you! Enjoy. 🙂
Bohempia is EU-sourced, PETA-certified vegan hemp clothing, accessories and shoes, 100% processed, designed and manufactured in the Czech Republic. Hemp, as well as being anti-microbial, can also be grown with far less water and pesticides compared to cotton, which is why it is considered one of the most sustainable natural textiles. Bohempia makes simple but stylish clothes in basic colors that can be worn in any season, meaning they will live long beyond the short lifespan of a fashion trend.
Bohempia Superstore address: Sokolovská 76, Prague 8
Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 10am-6pm
Czech Labels & Friends is a shop near Old Town Square in Prague, selling local and sustainable fashion. You can find some brands working with organic cotton, which uses less water and pesticides to be grown compared to conventional cotton. The shop also sells bags and shoes made from vegan “leather” and recycled materials. While prices are on the higher end, this shop is a good bet for finding a high-quality piece that will last you a long time.
Czech Labels & Friends address: Železná 12, Prague 1
Opening hours: Mon-Sun: 10am-8pm
UPDATE: This shop has permanently closed.
Kurator is a tiny boutique hidden away on a charming cobblestone street not far from Prague’s main sights. The shop focuses on curating local and international brands with an eco-friendly approach, including recycled, fairtrade and vegan shoes from Veja. It’s another good place to fall in love with a beautiful and high-quality piece that could last you a lifetime–if you take care of it.
Kurator address: Karoliny Světlé 17, Prague 1
Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 11am-7pm, Sat: 1pm-4pm
UPDATE: This shop has permanently closed.
Boho is one of the prettiest vintage clothing stores you’ll find in Prague. The shop, located near Prague’s (in)famous Krymska street (a.k.a. the most “hipster” street in Prague), is a good place to find quirky pieces from the 20th century. Bags, shoes, jewelry and clothes, for men and women, are presented in an attractive and inviting way. Try your hand at giving a new home to a unique piece that you can be almost sure no one else will have.
Address: Francouska 76, Prague 10
Opening hours: Tue-Sat: 1pm-7pm,
NILA is a spacious shop selling clothing, accessories and interior decor from both local and international fairtrade brands. Men’s and women’s clothes from a range of international brands are available, as well as some smaller local designers. There is also an extension of the shop for kids just down the street. The shop is tasteful and beautiful, and while the prices are above average for Prague, quality is top notch.
Address: Korunní 91 (entrance from Řipská), Prague 2
Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 10am-7:30pm, Sat: 9am-3pm (closed December 31st and November 1st)
EtikButik is a small boutique selling vegan, fairtrade and sustainable clothing, accessories and shoes. The shop proves that buying sustainable fashion doesn’t have to be expensive. Brands such as Stanley & Stella, Armed Angels and Wills Vegan Shoes are carried, for both men and women. Prices are very reasonable and the pieces are simple and timeless, in a small range of attractive colors, materials and patterns.
Address: Bělehradská 36, Prague 2
Opening hours: Tue: 4:30pm-7pm, Thurs: 4:30pm-7pm, Sat: 11am-2pm