Budapest, Fashion City
Why is the Budapest fashion scene so remarkably vibrant in the region, even by international standards? There is probably no single answer to that question, but Central European Fashion Days definitely plays a big part. It all started in 2011 with a competition organised bythe alternative centre for all that is trendy, Design Terminal, challenging young Hungarian designers to reinterpret Hungarian folk motifs in fashion forward ways. The response was phenomenal, and soon the region's largest fashion event grew up around the competition, which is now open to Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia as well. CEFD takes place in October during Design Week showcasing the competition finalists and the latest collection of established designers, many of whom got their start here in previous years and went on to launch successful brands. Balint Sara Knit/Wear, EOSine and The Béta Version leather bags, KOMOD and MIMM Textile Design are all alumni. Speaking of established brands, there are quite a few who have achieved international success in recent years. In 2014 Dori Tomcsányi, KELE clothing, The FOUR, Napsugar Von Bittera and ZAKO showed at London Fashion Week. Nanushka, the label of the young and outrageously talented Szandra Sándor is retailed globally from Tokyo to New York. The luxuriously neo-baroque creations of Dora Abodi regularly show up on red carpets. The handbags and accessories of Anh Tuan are what fashion dreams are made of. It's also encouraging that the industry is not dominated by towering egos (as we might have come to expect) and there are many collaborations: The FOUR, Je Suis Belle, USE unused, ARTISTA, INQ concept are all labels that unite creative teams.
WAMP Design Fair is a great place to start getting to know Hungarian designers, pick up unique souvenirs and gifts and spice up your wardrobe. The market is usually held monthly, but shifts up to weekly in the lead up to Christmas – is a platform for young designers to reach their audience directly, offering a cornucopia of not only clothes, accessories, and home decorations but on occasion designer gastronomy as well. Nanushka and NUBU have their own flagship stores on glittering Fashion Street and Andrássy Avenue respectively, alongside the likes of Burberry and Louis Vuitton. Others can be found in multi-brand boutiques, packed with extraordinary, one-of-a-kind finds: ONE Fashion Agency & Retail in Ráday Street and Black Box Concept Store near Ferenciek Square. WonderLAB is a unique concept store, as it functions as a cooperative of designers - they all contribute to the overheads and set their own prices. The GardenStudio is remarkable as it carries just as much menswear as womenswear from MEI KAWA, ZAKO and KELE. Time to buy a bigger suitcase for the return journey!