Faux Leather Shorts with Fur? Yeah We Got That

 One-of-a-kind shops offer alternative to uniformity of global brands

By Kristin Lewis

The more-upscale Fashion Church is an upscale boutique located on Zelezna near old town square. Photo by Peter Slattery.

Fashion Church is an upscale boutique located on Zelezna near old town square. Photo by Peter Slattery.

A scowling teen with wisps of electric blue hair gelled back in a clean-cut style stands next to a fresh-faced man in a tailored peacoat with round frame sunglasses on the jam-packed metro.

They sway in silence each eyeing each other’s aesthetic choices. The metro jerks to a stop and in rushes a girl with a funky bejeweled jean skirt and tights. She has sparkling flower clips in her hair to hold in place the loose pieces. They all look at each other and resume listening to their music blaring out of their respective ear buds.

In comparison to the so-called Western world, diversity in fashion and the ability to express oneself through a unique, even discordant look is relatively new to the Czech lands. That’s because limited means and even more limited goods meant sparse dress options until 1989, when communism came tumbling down.

“I prefer shopping in small boutiques or thrift shops because the chances I find an original piece of clothing are much bigger than in the big international stores.”

The advent of capitalism meant a free flow of Western fashion into the country, from New York, Paris and beyond. However, it also meant the soaring popularity of global chain stores like H&M and Zara which provided yet another offering of homogenous dress, a more fashionable echo of Communist uniformity.

Today, however, young people are more committed to escaping the domination of the global brands they once craved and are venturing out to create a look that is uniquely Czech.  Small fashion boutiques with handcrafted goods are a key player in this style revolution.

“I prefer shopping in small boutiques or thrift shops because the chances I find an original piece of clothing are much bigger than in the big international stores,” Krystina Cermakova, a 23-year-old Charles University student, said. “I can also often choose from a variety of foreign brands that are usually hard to be found in Prague. My favorite thing I bought was a bright green coat that stood out in a winter crowd, where the majority of people wear black.”

Stores like Czech Labels and Friends as well as Pour Pour and Balamina boast product lines featuring local designers and one-of- a-kind goods.

Local designers boast fun, quirky, one-of-a-kind fashion. Photo by Kristen Lewis.

Local designers boast fun, quirky, one-of-a-kind fashion. Photo by Kristen Lewis.

Here’s a look at some of the boutiques we found that are worth a peek-in:

Fashion Church is an upscale boutique located on Zelezna, one of the winding alleyways right off of Old Town Square. It has elegant pieces like a fur vest made out of various types of fur, complete with layered leopard print sleeves. Also eye-catching was a leather waist belt draped with extra material giving it a skirt-like look which would be easily paired with a loose fitting shirt. Most pieces in the store ranged from 500 koruna (20 USD) for studded leggings to upwards of 12,000 koruna (480 USD) for a floor-length gold lace dress. It’s pricey but certainly a must-see if you’re looking for something glamorous.

Down the street from Fashion Church is a smaller, slightly less expensive boutique called Czech Labels & Friends. It features fun, quirky pieces from local Czech and Slovak designers. Knick-knack coated bodices and eclectic home items such as calendars and plastic, painted rings suggest fun over luxury. The feature pieces were waterproof rubber flats that came in various different colors like red, silver, hot pink, blue and black. Some came encrusted in glitter and made in a melded rose pattern others sported the more classic, pointed-toe style with jewel embellishments. The most interesting were by far the rubber high heels that looked remarkably like a designer heel but were made out of a matte rubber material and had matching jewel décor. An eye catcher themselves, these practical yet extraordinarily unique pieces would look great with jeans and a solid-colored shirt. Bowties and chunky necklaces were draped on top of structured tweed blazers alongside stationary, candles and notebooks emblazoned with inspirational and sometimes funny sayings like “Femme Fatal” and “Life’s a Bitch, so Learn to Fuck it.” The notebooks, some of the pricier items in the shop, were handmade by a German designer keeping in line with the store’s promises of authenticity and support for local designers. Items ranged from 300 koruna to 2000 koruna (12-80 USD).  “We try to balance the offering of merchandise in order for everyone to find something appealing and affordable. We organize fashion pop ups with selected themes, such as local sport brands, and trends of the moment,” Martina Huskova, owner of Czech Labels & Friends, said in an email interview. The store’s clientele is half Czech and half expat between the ages of 25 to 40 years old, according to Huskova. “All the staff naturally speaks English,” she added.

Outside the tourist-filled center, Vinohrady and Zizkov are filled with small one-roomed shops filled with trinkets labeled Cesky modni design, Czech fashion design.

Pour Pour is a small boutique located on Vinohradska in Praha 3. It has a variety of unique items such as camo print cross body bags and neon earrings that look straight out of an American 1980s romantic comedy. It features racks of skirts, shirts, and pants with funky cuts and pockets. You can even start creating your own cookbook with the handmade journals sporting drawings labeled, “family recipes.” Generally, the pieces ranged from 300 koruna to 3000 koruna (12-120 USD).

Balamina just down the street from Pour Pour, is also small one-room shop. It sells mostly clothes from local Czech designers but some items are from small designers in France and Germany as well. The store caters almost exclusively to Czech locals between the ages of 30 and 60. They have a good selection of conservative dresses in neutral colors like black and beiges and jackets. In a display by the register was a small selection of Czech handmade jewelry, mostly large stoned statement necklaces or intricate bracelets. The staff, while friendly, didn’t speak much English.

Despite being on the outskirts of Prague, Plenty Cash in Praha 9 has an urban vibe. Popular amongst young people, Plenty Cash has held bar promotions and other events advertising the brand. It has a loyal fan base of rebellious teens. Black fabrics with faux leather patches are a hot trend in the current fashion industry, and this shop specializes in them. Its bestsellers, according to the store website, are black long-sleeved bodysuits that alternate between nylon material, mesh and flat-rimmed felt hats bearing the brand Plenty Cash. The scoop-necked sweatshirts with faux leather shoulder patches stood out as did loose leather shorts. Prices range from 550 koruna and 2000 koruna (22-80 USD).

 

Kristin Lewis is in the Bucknell University Class of 2016. Her hometown is Manhasset, New York.

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Categories: Spring 2015 Issue Number 2

Author:The Prague Wandering

The Prague Wandering is an NYU based study abroad webzine- the only one of its kind. It focuses on issues in contemporary Czech culture and the city of Prague, exploring beyond the study abroad bubble.

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