Summer in the city. Some fashion critics find it hot, others turn their head.
As a result of observing diverse ethnic groups that populate Slovakia, experts and designers say Slovaks have motley tastes when it comes to fashion. At times, while walking down the street, one has to turn around to check if what they have just seen was only a nightmare, only to spot, twenty seconds later, a real gem as if it were just clipped out of a top fashion magazine.
A conservative look
"Generally speaking, the public in Slovakia dresses well," said Saša Jány, a fashion specialist and critic who works with the Elite fashion agency. "But [some people], politicians especially, dress disastrously."
Jány continued that compared to women in Paris or London, Slovak women are more conservative and have a better grasp in the art of hiding weak spots. "Slovak women are more conservative in what they wear, they know how to hide slight incongruities with [their bodies] without it being obvious to everyone," he said.
František Mikloško, a fashion designer, said that mostly middle-aged Slovaks do not pay attention to fashion trends. "Teenagers try to keep up with the trends, following musical groups, etc.," he said. "But the 20-to-35 age group generally doesn't pay attention to things like that at all. They would rather save a couple of thousand crowns by wearing things that may not be at the cutting edge of fashion."
The failure to keep up with the latest fashion trends is often explained by a lack of money. "People think that going to a fashion designer is automatically an expensive thing," said Alena Mihová, a fashion designer. "They would rather go to Poland, buy cheap clothes and when they fall apart, they bring the clothes here and have us repair them. In the end, it costs them more than if they purchased it here in the first place."
Women and their colors
The one glaring feature in Slovak women's fashion that most experts seem to point out is the use of colors. "I have a feeling that women here believe that the most important thing is that they dress in bright colors, so that they will be noticed by everyone," Jány said. Miloško seconded this by saying that Slovaks often "mix colors that obviously do not go together."
The old truth that bigger is not necessarily better proves correct when one watches Slovak women using accessories. "It is unbelievable what people will pile on themselves," Mikloško said. Jány added that "the rule with accessories here appears to be that the more gold buckles there are, the better," Jány said. "They don't seem to be worried that it looks cheap."
Generation X. Fashion designers and experts say Slovak males between 20 and 35-years old don't pay attention to fashion trends due to a lack of interest, money and a dearth of men's fashion magazines.
Male fashion crusaders
Many fashion experts are bitter about the lack of men's fashion magazines. As a result, some trends that were hot in Slovakia several years ago can still be found today. A classic example are jackets and blazers in bright colors. "Everyone had a jacket like that, but I don't know where they came from," Jány said. "Through these trends, people develop a bad taste for clothing which cannot be corrected overnight."
It may indeed take a long time to develop a taste for stylish clothes and at the same time be able to find them at an affordable price. "Clothes are either very cheap but without quality, or in the Hugo Boss [category] with very high prices," Jány said. "Something in the middle is needed."
Politicians form a group of people who should be able to afford expensive clothes, but many of them walk around dressed up as fashion crusaders. "The weirdest outfit I've seen included turquoise socks, jacket and pants in a similar color, together with white shoes," Jány said. "Someone perhaps still hasn't woken up from the seventies."
Young Slovaks in general dress quite fashionably and better than elder generations. "[They] are dressed very well most of the time, but again, sometimes they overdo it," Jány said while pointing at a girl who was passing by in a sheer white dress that looked like a night gown.