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LOCAL ICONS: Reviving Industry with Apparel

The young Czech label introduces design-forward basics, each made in a different local factory

by Adam Stech
on 22 September 2014

During Mercedes-Benz Prague Fashion Weekend, fashion editor Veronika Ruppert—along with fashion business insider Katarina Kral—presented a new project called LOCAL ICONS. The small yet impressive installation inside Prague's Charles University revealed several garments and accessories straight from the factories of traditional Czech producers that have been all but forgotten by the current generation. We spoke with Ruppert to learn more about the project that's aiming to resurrect the Czech fashion industry.

How did the project begin?

The idea came after months of observation and interviews with local people at Czech factories. I noticed a lot of quality, good looking, basic pieces which could work not just with the traditional customers of these brands in smaller towns, but also with young people from big cities who care about local production and are interested in the way the items are made, as well as the stories behind them.

Who makes up the LOCAL ICONS team?

I had the basic idea for the project, but was looking for someone to work with on it. I admire Katarina Kral's work with Czech Labels & Friends and the City Souls project, so I was happy she agreed to work with me on LOCAL ICONS. Another important part of the team is the graphic designer Jakub Samek from Mütanta, Romik from Shot Rabbit who created the website and photographer Adam Křena.

Our goal is quality local basics that are relevant across changing seasons and generations. We like a slow fashion concept.
Where is the project at currently?

September is our first month trying out the project on a larger scale. We presented seven factories at Mercedes-Benz Prague Fashion Weekend and started to sell the first batch of selected products from five of them at Labels & Friends in Prague. Items include black and white unisex turtlenecks from Jitex, fez hats and berets from Tonak, women's and men's collared shirts from Vavi, clutches and notebook bags from Elega and elegant leather gloves from Napa. We choose everyday essentials with clean and simple designs which are easy to combine. We don't think about them in terms of collections—our goal is quality local basics [that are] relevant across changing seasons and generations. We like a slow fashion concept.

What is it like collaborating with companies who aren't really in touch with the contemporary fashion scene and styles?

They are actually not as disconnected as it seems—and they are very positive about the collaboration. The Czech factories were just out of media focus for a while, so people weren't so aware of great local items. But, for example, Vavi already works with young designers— same as Elega. Botas 66 is a great example of an intelligent redesign connected with new marketing and sales strategies. And Moleda, who does the Prestige sneakers, collaborated this year with the well-known Czech designer Jakub Polanka. The factories are open to new projects, but they need to see results in sales, of course.

How do you distribute products? Where are they sold?

So far, you can find LOCAL ICONS in Labels & Friends shop in Prague. After we launched the project at Mercedes-Benz Prague Fashion Weekend, we got a few positive reactions from other shops in Prague and Brno. If everything goes well, LOCAL ICONS will spread to more places.

Explore the full LOCAL ICONS collection online and stay tuned for future collaborations.

Images courtesy of LOCAL ICONS

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