Shopping & design

Shopping & design

A More Sustainable Approach To Fashion

Shopping, design
Shopping & design
In the sustainable fashion jungle, it can sometimes be difficult to know where to look. With an endless wealth of information, new and established brands to explore amongst confusing terminology, anyone can feel a little overwhelmed. NILA’s founder, Eva Urban, helps us navigate high-quality fashion, accessories and lifestyle products made under environmentally friendly and ethical conditions.
The NILA concept store was founded by Eva and Pavel Urban, both of whom hail from a legal background. Eva is now a lawyer for sustainable and ethical fashion. Basically, she advocates fashion that is an extension of her life philosophy – with respect for nature, the planet and all living things. The store is home to a unique range of sustainable fashion, home furnishings and accessories. A sustainable collection created by various Czech designers is created each year. We sit down with Eva to learn about the steps you should take to become more aware and make the right choice.
  • How did your sustainability journey begin?
“I wanted a lifestyle change. I was tired of life as a corporate lawyer and booked a trip to New Mexico to find meaning in life. I have always had a penchant for handicrafts. During the trip, I realised how I could combine my understanding of objects, craftsmanship and sustainability with a lifestyle store. Due to my background as a lawyer, I am also driven by human rights and an ethical production that involves the craftsman. Together, these components created NILA. It started as a home decor store with objects created from natural materials. It was quite avant-garde for the Czech market and therefore also started to include fashion. When I started eleven years ago, the fashion that was produced was mainly ‘hippie’, influenced by batik patterns, and not at all the style I wanted to convey”.
  • About the choice of Scandinavian style and timelessness?
“I turned my eyes to Scandinavia, but also Europe and the designers with the best style and sustainable philosophy. I have a long-term and transparent relationship with all my suppliers. For me, it is important that the garment can last a lifetime in the wardrobe. The quality is, therefore, A and O. When I bring in a brand, I also look at how ethical and sustainable its production is”.

  • You’ve written a book on sustainable fashion… Why?
“The main reason is that the store is celebrating its 10th anniversary. I have collected and written a lot of material about sustainable fashion over the years. I was among the first to introduce the concept to the Czech market”.
  • What about sustainable fashion in the Czech Republic… Do people buy fast fashion or is it also a trend to think about the environment?
“I think it’s a combination of both. Most people are probably driven by sustainable politics, but at the same time, you have to fall in love with what you see. I believe that a garment can have a positive change in many people’s lives. Take a dress that you love for example. If it is durable, you will love it even more. A garment must have the entirety of aesthetics and durability”.
  • What about Czech fashion designers and sustainability?
“At NILA, we do not sell much Czech sustainable fashion, aside from the design collection that we bring in once a year. We represent a lot of sustainable cosmetic products from the Czech Republic, for example, Biorythme, and we have developed an incense burner together with a Czech designer. Czech fashion designers often start their own stores. They are very skilled craftsmen, and you get high-quality garments at a good price. I can recommend Hana Zárubová to those who like a cool, raw and Japanese-inspired fashion. If you like imaginative prints and lovely colours, you should go to Annanemone. If you are looking for dresses, you should visit LEEDA in the Old Town of Prague. The brand was created in 2003 by Lucie Kutalkova, and each part of the collection is produced in the Czech Republic. The origin of the materials and local handicraft traditions are the essential characteristics of the brand”.
  • What do you recommend taking home as a nice souvenir from Prague?
“Personally, I like small objects like a fine piece of jewellery, a ring or a charm. In Prague and in Brno there are many talented jewellery designers such as Janja Prokić, Alžběta Dvořáková, Klára Šípková and Ondřej Stára. Then I think it’s nice to buy handmade ceramic cups or plates. The Slovak shoe brand Novestas, with its timeless design, is a good thing to take home. The brand has a strong environmental focus and only uses certified materials such as 100 percent organic cotton and natural rubber.
  • Where should you shop in Prague if you care about sustainably?
“In Prague, it’s all about location, location, location. Choose a district and explore it. I would suggest Letná, where there are many local shops, vintage shops and new designer collectives. There are nice galleries, beautiful museums and parks. Then there are plenty of bars, wine bars and exciting restaurants to explore. Another of my favourites is the cosmopolitan Vinohrady with the farmer’s market at Jiřího z Poděbrad, which attracts food lovers from all over Prague. Vintage shops, second-hand shops and small design shops with nice cafés are crowded here. In the centre of Prague are the streets that connect two architectural Prague gems – the Dancing House, designed by Frank Gehry and Vlado Milunić, and the National Theatre designed by Josef Zítek and Josef Schulz, which are perfect for exploring on foot.

Walk along the Nove Mesto side of Vltava River, which is packed with galleries, churches and cafes. There is plenty here for all types of shoppers. Do not miss the design shop Artisème, which has the finest Czech design collection, just behind the John Lennon wall at Malá Strana. The beautiful garden is just a bonus to the already magical place that breathes history. Buy a vase or beautiful wine glasses from here”.
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