9. únor 2014 / Kamila Boudová

Fashion Industry in Czech Republic

The fashion industry is a creative one and for that reason it belongs to the family of CCI. The definition of the term 'fashion' is wide and varies from country to country and from one individual to another. The decision makers in the highest posts in fashion would describe it as merely a 'business': a global business worth billions of dollars. In the Czech Republic, fashion is perceived in very different way. Some love it, some hate it, some do not care at all. On the global map the Czech Republic is a small fashion market with a very limited (almost non-existent) presence of local brands and closed production sites. How can we revitalize the fashion industry in the Czech Republic and seize the opportunity the current global situation offers? Firstly, and most importantly – we must stop seeing fashion as an art or craft. Fashion is a business and as such it has the standard requirements regarding human capital. We need managers, marketers, strategists, finance directors, lawyers, investors, buyers and product developers with an understanding of the global fashion structure and a sense for local  market, that has its history and its potential in current context.

Between the world wars Czechoslovakia used to be a very strong country in many aspects including its fashion industry. The well-known fashion house Podolska had qualities and 'renome' of European standards. The family owned business had connections with Parisian fashion houses and even sold licenses. The house of Hana Podolska worked for businessmen, politicians, movie stars. It is argualbe that in terms of fashion the Czech Republic used to be self-sufficient even on the highest level. After the Second World War, the salon was nationalized and continued its activities working exclusively for politicians. All the other companies in textiles and apparel got nationalized and a major part of know-how and business network disappeared with the displacement of Jews and Germans during and after the war. With socialism, all production was simplified and made to satisfy the needs of the masses. 

On the other hand, the western world developed global brands with complex structures, innovative business models, marketing strategies and communication campaigns. Once the borderlines opened our markets got flooded by the powerful brands from western and northern Europe with complex distribution networks that we could not cope with. 

Nowadays we are stuck in the 50's, in the times when everything was about the designers. We see fashion from the position of consumers and we are trying to create models without understanding the inner dynamics of the global fashion industry and business, counting on the creativity of our star-designers. Unfortunately these times are long gone. Now there is time for another creativity in the core of fashion: the creativity of marketers, managers and agents capable of building coherent structures, sustainable business models and linking them to the international network. Then, the designers can use their extraordinary talent and be visible on the market, known, celebrated and profitable: in the core of sustainable business linked to international network. 

Creative industries and local manufacturing are stated as pillars of healthy economies even by the European commission. What the role is of the Czech Republic in the context of Europe and the global trends of fashion trade will be discussed next time. 

By Kamila Boudová, MBA in fashion business 

Kamila Boudová has more than three years working experience in textile and fashion in three different European countries. Among others she worked at the famous French department store Galeries Lafayette as a product developer and assistant buyer. In August 2013 Kamila Boudová finished her MBA in Fashion Business at the International Fashion Academy in Paris and Shanghai. She is currently based between Prague and Paris collaborating with universities and developing companies in fashion. 

The text uses information provided by Zuzana Šidlíková during a conference organized by Slovak Fashion Council in Bratislava in December 2013. 

Kulturní a kreativní průmysly