Designed in Budapest and produced in Europe, Nanushka combines function with flair by creating special garments for today that respect the world of tomorrow. With sustainability as its cornerstone and a cruelty-free approach, the brand offers a new form of beauty to modern humans with a wanderlust spirit. We speak with its founder, Sandra Sandor, about her innate love for fashion, comfort versus beauty and social media.
You were surrounded by fashion from a very early age, since your mother ran a children’s wear label. Was it fashion then something you always knew you wanted to work on or do you remember a specific moment that made you take that decision?
Fashion was always part of my life because of my mother. I used to be her fitting model, which was fun for me – I loved dressing up. I have memories of being around the seamstresses and watching them in awe, but I only realized that I would like to focus on fashion as my career when I turned 17. Luckily, my family was very supportive of my decision.
How is your creative process like? Do you prefer to work as a team or on your own? Or it depends on the stage of the project?
I think it depends on the stage of the process. When I start with a collection I always like to gather my thoughts and look at pictures, exhibitions, explore a certain era, architecture, wander around in vintage stores. I always have a notebook with me, and when I see something interesting or get inspired, I will draw it or write it down.
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You have been showing Nanushka’s mainline collection at New York Fashion week for a while now, but last February you debuted menswear at your Fall presentation. Men were buying from the women’s collection before you were designing for them. Now, you design both collections at the same time. How has been the reception of the men’s fashion line?
I think the reception has been great from both women and men. I’m very happy that my inspiration of exploring this fluidity and building a unisex wardrobe really came through. Women are just as interested in the menswear line as men.
However, you mentioned in an interview that “when you look at it as a whole, you see a kind of fluid bond between genders”. Do you think that is the direction fashion is going – in a genderless direction? How do you think that will translate in the future into? One single genderless collection?
I think it has definitely been an inspiration and we can see a rising trend, especially in the Spring/Summer 2020 men’s collection, but I wouldn’t say that we will have one single genderless collection in the future. I think the idea is that we can play with both our feminine and masculine side as well.
At Nanushka, you create a bridge between intuitive and functional design. What percentage of importance would you say you attribute to design (understood as creative expression) and what percentage to functionality?
My main and foremost inspiration for Nanushka is the Bauhaus movement – form follows function. I think clothes should elevate you and not restrict, and being comfortable in them is very important. I think they should be both beautiful and functional at the same time, and I try to build this in into every collection.
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How would you describe the Nanushka woman?
A modern woman, with a bohemian spirit and effortless style.
Sustainability is the cornerstone of Nanushka. That’s why you use faux fur and vegan leather as the best option to protect the planet and the animals. More and more brands have banned the use of fur on their clothes. Do you think the fashion industry is moving in this direction? How do you feel about it?
I think working in a more sustainable way for the fashion industry is essential. It’s not a change that happens overnight but a step-by-step process, and we have to work towards a more circular economy together. The customers are more educated and they are looking for more sustainable options, they ask questions, which I find great as it pushes us forward.
In recent years, Nanushka has become a sought-after brand among Instagram influencers and fashion insiders. How did it all began – which came first, the brand or the influencer? And how would you describe your relationship with influencers nowadays?
Instagram is a great tool and it helped the brand to gain more visibility; it made possible for brands outside of the major fashion capitals to enter the fashion world. The influencers helped discover the brand, but it has been around since 2006. I think it’s important to build and nurture the relationship with them and I really like to discover how they style my designs, it’s a source of inspiration.
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In 2016, the brand took a more entrepreneurial approach when Peter Baldaszti, Sandra’s longtime partner joined as a co-owner and CEO. Peter, what main changes have you implemented since your incorporation to the brand?
Peter Baldaszti: In 2016, when I joined the company, I secured an investment and my main goal was to take the brand global as till then, it was operating mainly as a local business. The first big change was to build an in-house sales team which helped to develop stronger relationships with retail partners and showrooms. Secondly, we brought e-commerce operations in-house opposed to have it outsourced and online sales started to grow rapidly. I’m a firm believer that you have to take your faith in your own hands.
Your collections are now stocked in over thirty countries internationally through online stores, speciality shops and department stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Selfridges and MyTheresa, as well as shipping over one hundred countries worldwide. What would you say have been Nanushka’s most important milestones to date?
In 2017, we changed the way we operate and we started to build a strong in-house team. When Peter joined, we made major changes to the company and how we operated. By 2018, we started working with all major stockist, had our first presentation in New York Fashion week and also opened Nanushka Store & Café in Budapest. In 2019, we launched menswear and also showed our Spring/Summer 2020 men’s collection in Paris and we have exciting plans ahead of us.
As you said, last year you opened a concept boutique – the Nanushka Store & Café – in the heart of downtown Budapest, the Fifth District, featuring a coffee shop, items by the brand, the stationary in collaboration with Isabel Feliu, your ceramics line – Nanoha – created along with Natalia Nemes from Noha Studio, and curated pieces like some beauty products from other brands. Despite the fact that the fashion industry does not have the same strength in Budapest as in other cities, what is it that you highlight as most positive in your hometown and current city of residence?
I think the fashion industry is way more inclusive now and people are also looking outside of the major fashion capitals. I always wanted to live and create in Budapest as this the city that constantly inspires me and also where I grew up and my family is. From a practical point of view, the quality of life that someone can achieve in Budapest is higher than in other major cities where people would work in the same positions. We are recruiting more and more international talents who are based in Budapest in the Nanushka headquarters.
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How does Budapest still inspire you today? What role do your origins play in your collections?
Budapest, the city where I was born and raised, inspired me all through my career and you can always find some references in every collection. The city is in the intersection of the East and West and because of this, it has a very rich cultural history. You can spot brutalist architecture next to a neoclassicist building. I like combining many different references that create something unexpected.
Could you share with us one of your favourite places in Budapest for unconventional travellers?
I love taking a stroll on Falk Miksa Utca, where the street is lined with antique and vintage stores.
Do you plan to open a store in New York or London, beyond the flagship concept store you have in Budapest?
Yes, we think that brick and mortar is essential if it’s executed well. We are planning to open further stores, and the next one is going to open in New York in October.
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