April 24-28 has internationally been dubbed Fashion Revolution Week, in remembrance of the Rana Plaza tragedy, when a garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1129 workers and injuring over 2500. 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.
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 was a wake-up call for the world, showing us that our mindless consumption of cheap products comes with a tragic cost.
Documentaries like The True Cost are also helping to raise awareness about the less-than-pretty side of the fashion industry. The film takes us behind the scenes to Bangladesh, where we can see the poor conditions of factory workers and cotton farmers. Other documentaries like Out of Fashion focus more on the environmental impacts, showing the enormous amount of waste that the industry produces, starting with wasted fabric scraps at factories and ending with consumers throwing massive quantities of cheap and low-quality clothes in the landfill after a few wears.
Slow fashion, also referred to as sustainable fashion, ethical fashion or fair fashion, is the response to the nonsensical reality of the fast fashion industry. 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. A number of bigger fashion companies have started this process, which admittedly can’t happen overnight, but many people around the world are hoping for faster progress. Simply adding a few organic garments to a collection isn’t enough, as long as the fundamental business model is dependent on consumerism and treating clothing as a disposable good. Fortunately, new brands are popping up, offering more genuinely sustainable alternatives. 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 too much, and throwing too much away. 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 slow fashion approach. This means no longer buying the cheapest trends 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/or vintage options (as buying vintage is a form of recycling). Many people find that slow fashion is also a way to simplify life, allowing them to declutter both their wardrobes and their minds; to reduce stress, save money, and perhaps even look more put-together. Haven’t you heard Leonardo da Vinci’s enduring words of wisdom that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”?
Understanding the slow fashion mission is one thing, but you may be wondering how to implement it in your own life. Many cities have a chapter of Fashion Revolution as well as 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. But as we are a green guide to Prague, we thought we’d point out a few places to find slow fashion in the lovely capital of Czechia. And we think you won’t be disappointed. 🙂 So, enjoy our list, and remember, less is more!
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
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
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