BY: FASHION FORWARD
It is clear by now that fashion production and consumption as it existed until the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster is coming to an end. Over the last half decade there has been a proliferation of independent, local labels around the world. These brands may be locally accomplished and culturally rich, but internationally unknown and lacking sufficient funds to compete in the global marketplace.
At Fashion Forward, we believe that the exploration of the unknown, the widening of discourse, and the broad accessibility of free information is crucial to moving the fashion system forward. For these reasons, we have been working to create guides that feature the most conscious, impactful, and sustainable brands from different countries all around the world. Fueled by our mission to open the fashion system up to new and exciting initiatives, these resources fill a gap in the information available to consumers, allowing them to experience fashion through a new lens.
Meet 15 sustainable fashion designers from Hungary.
Alma Vetlenyi is Hungary's leading fashion designer in the sustainability arena. Her thoughtful design philosophy centers around the concept of zero waste, finding solutions in the smart use of geometric design, the celebration of minimalistic silhouettes, recycled as well as organic materials, and bold colors. The brand's production is local, and could not be more ethical: Alma sews all the pieces with her mother and one additional seamstress. You won't find an extensive inventory while shopping; utilizing a demi-couture mode of production, her collection pieces serve as models that are replicated only once a customer decides to order them.
Aware by Printa
The name, Aware by Printa, refers to two of this brand's foundational elements: awareness and printmaking. Housed in the Printa studio, Aware is the fashion initiative that complements their art gallery, printmaking workshop, and cafe in the heart of Budapest. Built on the principles of reduced and zero waste, Aware by Printa uses organic, OEKO-Tex certified and repurposed textiles to create liveable, functional garments for everyday life. Their printed pieces are hand-crafted in small batches using water-based ink.
Borbala is the patchwork queen of Central Europe. Scouring second-hand stores, flea markets, and textile disposal sites, she is the master of transforming rags and unwanted items into one-of-a-kind, artful garments. There will be no two similar outfits. Both Borbala, and her assistants and interns are on a quest to breathe new life into used clothing and textiles, resulting in the maker’s unique signature styles.
Distinguished by youthful femininity, soft cuts, and a vintage vibe, Daige exclusively manufactures in Hungary, employing local seamstresses under safe and respectful conditions. Endlessly seeking consumer feedback, this brand prioritizes small batch production via heavy reliance on direct-to-consumer models that will be central to long-lasting wardrobes, rather than growing too soon, too fast.
Designer Judit Simon of DittaFelt utilizes traditional handcrafting techniques, such as wet felting wool, to create earthy yet urban garments that appeal to all our senses. Using only natural fibers and materials, DittaFelt’s sculptural and painterly collections are dyed through eco-friendly, organic techniques from plants harvested from the designer’s own garden. Her pieces are engineered to be comfortable enough to not only be worn on an everyday basis, but also elegant enough to have been exhibited in various international museums and galleries throughout the years.
Inspired by nature, the collections of goldsmith Dóri Visy are deeply embedded in the natural world. Using precious stones, as well as sea urchins, pebbles and seaglass, all of the brand’s materials are collected by Dóri on her journeys around the world. With each individual piece meticulously designed and handcrafted by her, the production cycle could not be any more transparent and cruelty-free.
Knitwear label Eszka is a champion of sustainable fashion. Designer Kriszta produces all of the brand's beautifully woven pieces in her family's own solar-panel operated knitwear factory in the northeast region of Hungary. They use deadstock and recycled yarns to create limited-run collections, repurposing scraps to make bags and accessories. In their quest to reduce her ecological footprint, Eszka also hopes to inspire consumers to make thoughtful decisions and find their own unique style.
Each piece of Fruzsi Fekete’s fine, whimsical jewelry is made by hand in the designer’s Budapest studio. Taking inspiration from organic shapes and nature, Fekete creates her unique pieces with precious metals and stones. She recently launched “Layers of Impressions,” a collaborative line with the accessories brand Gabriella Veszpremi (next on our list), in which she combined her delicate designs with leather scraps to create one of a kind, colorful jewelry that minimizes production waste.
Gabriella Veszprémi has developed her very own technology and recognizable design called Layers, which she employs both in her jewelry, bag, and shoe collections. By compressing layers of unused, leftover leather pieces disposed of by other brands, she embraces the unwanted, and turns them into one-of-a-kind, rainbow wonders. Based in her eponymous design workshop in Budapest, Gabriella frequently collaborates with Hungary’s most intriguing, cutting-edge brands to further advance her goal of reducing waste, while maximizing creativity.
Nanushka emerged from the first wave of contemporary Hungarian designers. Known for being the go-to international it-girl brand, Nanushka has several feet in sustainable production. For one, the brand is committed to responsible forestry and conservation, a key and understated issue in fashion production. Besides partnering up with NGOs, Nanushka also makes it incredibly easy to shop based on sustainable principles. Their webshop is organized by green and ethical initiatives, such as local production (they have their very own atelier at their headquarters), vegan materials, regenerated leather, and organic cotton.
This swimsuit brand is on a mission to create timeless pieces that can serve you for many years to come. Exclusively using ECONYL®, a regenerated nylon made from fabric scraps and waste, all pieces are sewn by hand locally in Budapest, paying special attention to zero-waste techniques. Philomén avoids plastic packaging, embracing circular economy at every step of the supply chain. If all this is not convincing enough, check out their philanthropic support for the Whales and Dolphin Conservation.
Vibrant, eye-catching prints on expertly tailored silhouettes make up the foundation of the Tomcsányi brand. In an effort to minimize waste, Tomcsányi produces only small-batch collections, all made-to-order and created from start to finish in its Budapest studio. With a focus on utilizing high quality, natural fabrics, Tomcsányi is currently operating on a schedule to become fully sustainable in the next three years.
Cut, sewn, and painted entirely by hand in her Budapest studio, Vanda Berecz creates architectural masterpieces out of vegetable-tanned leather. Using a combination of Japanese origami paper-folding techniques in conjunction with digital design software, Vanda Berecz's bags take inspiration from basic geometric shapes, as well as UNESCO-recognized traditional Hungarian embroidery.
Viktoria Varga is the celebration of classic female archetypes, yielding time-tested, evergreen pieces for your closet. While locally made, her approach to sustainability lays in the avoidance of fast fashion and rapidly-changing tastes, catering rather to long-term use. Viktoria also weaves traditional craft elements into her designs, to help fight the loss of dying traditional arts and crafts due to mechanical production.
Zsigmond Dóra menswear
Taking inspiration from the rural village in which she grew up, Dóra Zsigmond creates her eponymous menswear line by combining traditional craft with modern design. Relying on a made-to-order model, Zsigmond Dóra menswear is crafted locally in Hungary from high-quality European fabrics, including deadstock textiles from luxury brands. Her REMADE line of clothing and accessories is made out of recycled, repurposed, and regenerated fabrics, including antique pieces, hand-loomed linens, and polyester made from recycled plastic bottles.
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