Unconventional, hip, and original? It’s a tough look to pull off. Fortunately for die-hard trendhunters, Code:Mode is back in town. The alternative fashion fair, which kicked off on Thursday in Karlín, offers a rare chance to sample the work of independent designers all under one roof. Although this year’s event is on a smaller scale, it’s still pulling in the crowds: on my early-evening Thursday visit, queues for tickets went around the block. Put yourself one step ahead of the herd with our guide to Code:Mode’s unmissable highlights.
1. Indulge your urban princess
If the adjective that sums up your dress sense is ‘whimsical’, you’ll love Yaxi Taxi. This is the place to stock up if you’re channelling a 21st century Alice in Wonderland. There are super swishy neon polka dot skirts, a Chrysler Building print shift dress, and a sparkly top embellished with a picture of Czech crooner Karel Gott. Who said fashion doesn’t have a sense of humor?
2. Design your own bag
With their range of contemporary styles from clutches to satchels in practically every color of the rainbow, MumRay’s handbags are appealing enough in their own right. If you can’t find one that tempts you, why not design your own? Choose the shape and color combination which best reflects your inner style goddess and designer Lucie will have it ready for you in just two weeks. Custom bags cost the same as the off-the-peg range making them a real steal.
3. Invest in one hardworking key piece
They may have a devilish name, but sweet666design have come up with a fiendishly simple idea: the variable T-shirt dress. You’ve read the articles telling you to declutter, downsize and streamline your wardrobe? Invest in a hardworking key piece like this and you finally can. Wear it short, long, off the shoulder, on its own or with jeans – but always with flair.
4. Pick up some Perspex jewelery
Tatty Devine’s Perspex necklaces have become a cult classic of British fashion. Czech designers Minimon offer more affordable versions. Spell out your feelings with a sugar pink “miluju tě” necklace or don a diamond shaped pendant in the colours of the Czech flag. You may want to be sure you know what the slit in the centre means or you could unwittingly send out the wrong signals. If plastic’s not your thing, try Michaela Gorcová’s delicate-looking metal earrings for size instead: they’re as strikingly intricate as the butterfly wings they were inspired by.
5. Buy bakewear with a twist
You’re unlikely to go to Code:Mode with the intention of stocking up on kitchenware, but Jana Černá’s limited edition porcelain is so appealing you may just change your mind. My favorite piece? A mini bábovka mould which doubles up as a coffee cup. The retro board game handkerchiefs would make a quirky gift for the man who already has enough novelty ties. Practical, stylish and fun, just like all good design should be.
6. Pimp your laptop case
Whether you’re a techie geek or a fashionista, your laptop deserves a fabulously groovy case. Fortunately, Slovak design collective Retart have come to the rescue with their unconventional but stylish laptop cases featuring artwork by contemporary visual artists. Take art out of the gallery and into your pocket without being arrested: treat yourself to one of their wallets with the same striking images.
7. Check out fairtrade skaterwear
Eco-conscious consumers needn’t sacrifice cool when opting to shop green. With their simple but quirky designs, ethical clothing label Sutsu have earned the fashion pack’s approval while also managing to produce 95% of their products from organic materials. Pick up a sustainable stylized tee for the skaterboy in your life. If your partner is more metrosexual than board lover, then head for Krystiná K.. A pair of boxers covered in dozens of tiny flamingos is the style injection every real man’s wardrobe needs.
8. Prepare for summer with a short skirt
Embrace sartorial optimism. Don’t bother investing in clothes for gloomy weather: buy something skimpy and sunny skies will surely follow. At least that’s the theory. Test it out at Akari: their pretty skirts with flirty hemlines combine a fifties flavor with a forgiving elastic waistband.
9. Invest in T-shirt art
Sick of sporting corporate logos or supposedly witty slogans? Thanks to Buffet’s limited edition t-shirts, you can stand out from the herd by brandishing a genuine work of art across your chest instead. Berlin Block Tetris upscales the video game to King Kong size proportions; Skippy shows a woman gleefully jumping rope with a kangaroo; Jubilee Tee commemorates the ten-year partnership of two old drinking buddies. Thought-provoking and sweatshop free, each design is printed in a limited edition run of just thirty so there’s little chance of you running into anyone else in one – except at Code:Mode of course.
10. Run away to the circus
Since beginning its mission to bring indie fashion design to a wider audience back in 2009, Code:Mode has become a hugely popular event. Popular means crowded — even the most seasoned shopper can flag after fighting their way around the stalls. Fortunately, there’s more on offer at Code:Mode than just retail therapy. When it all gets too much, head outside and brush up your juggling skills in an outdoor workshop or enjoy the freestyle circus display while munching on a ‘mrkev v rohlíku’ – a veggie take on the traditional Czech hotdog where a carrot plays the starring role!