T-shirts from Kyjov – Folk fashion for everyday wear

Trika z Kyjova

Not long ago it would have been difficult to imagine meeting a girl on the street in a headscarf with the typical folk motif of a heart or a young man in a t-shirt with a print imitating a folk costume shirt. But times are changing. And they are changing beautifully! Folk motifs are being used more and more in modern fashion – and this involves more than just the conventional type of blue design. Amongst the best evidence for the popularity of folk art and ornamentation in day-to-day fashion and in accessories is the project Trika z Kyjova, which has been developed since 2014 by the energetic young men Martin Zrzavý and Tomáš Jeřela.

When they present their project at various public presentations, they explain: “We are two folk culture enthusiasts from Kyjov, and folk culture is our be all and end all. And we want to make it more popular.”

Martin Zrzavý came up with the idea for how to achieve it at a rehearsal of the Slovácko folk song and dance ensemble Kyjov. “I said as a joke that we could make a normal t-shirt printed with the design of a Kyjov folk costume shirt. And it caught on. Within half a year we had printed the first batch, but there was such great interest in the t-shirt that we had to print another three batches,” he recalls. The start up was very promising, but it began under emergency conditions. “We didn’t have an office, we were working in a vineyard. Our warehouse was in our cellar, and when people picked up the t-shirts in person, we offered them a glass. We gradually acquired the equipment, printing machines. And the most recent, yet very significant, shift occurred this January when we moved into a bricks and mortar shop in Kyjov,” adds Tomáš Jeřela, describing development.

Although the interest in the t-shirts grew, they soon understood that they would not retain the attention of potential customers with just one type of product. And so they gradually expanded the range to include other types of clothing and accessories. Today in their e-shop and bricks and mortar shop girls can buy dresses, skirts, vests, swimming costumes and sweatshirts, and the lads can be sweatshirts and swimming trunks, and even babies can wear folk designs because Trika z Kyjova also offers children’s sizes of t-shirts and even babygrows. And thanks to the inventiveness of the founders of the Kyjov project you can also wear folk designs on bags and rucksacks, scarves, earrings, bow-ties and braces, cuff links and mobile phone cases. And for those who feel that clothing isn’t enough to show their liking for folk culture, you can also get tattoo designs from Kyjov.

At first they did the designs for clothing themselves, but as their reputation grew quickly, people from near and far contacted them and brought them original parts of folk costumes with patterns suitable for printing. “We are grateful for this because it is very difficult to find some shirts,” explains Martin Zrzavý and points out that they can print any pattern that a customer brings onto a t-shirt. “We have made sporting strips, a flag for a band, and t-shirts for the children’s ensemble Kyjovjánek,” he adds. They started to arrange their products into collections. “Currently they are, for example, sets using the motifs of the popular Turkish scarf, blue design or the typical folk hear ornament. We have also got the painter Lenka Jurečková, who comes from Bzenec but currently lives in Prague, to work with us. We print her original designs on t-shirts, vests and sweatshirts,” says Tomáš Jeřela. This year they also received a great honour, because in cooperation with the National Institute of Folk Culture they have prepared the official t-shirts and other items bearing the motif of the International Folk Art Festival Strážnice 2019.

But to this day the imitation of folk shirts remains the best-selling item. “The interest in them goes beyond the borders of the region and sometimes even the republic. The t-shirts are purchased by the children of emigrants or members of families who still have relatives here. For example we have had orders from Los Angeles or New Zealand,” says Zrzavý, mentioning the distant places where their customers come from. Both hope that the popularity of folk motifs will not fade too soon. “When we started, we were more or less the only ones. Over these past few years many other brands drawing on folk art have appeared. We are all riding a fashion wave, but we hope that in people’s hearts folk art is still alive,” they agree. You can find all the products on the website www.trikazkyjova.cz and in the shop on the Kyjov Square, but in the spring, summer and autumn you can also meet them in person at various folk and music festivals or at events of the open cellar or grape harvest type. And the gentlemen promise that if you come to their stand in their t-shirt, you can be sure of getting at least one glass of wine. A tempting offer, isn’t it?