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Young designers aim to catapult Eastern Europe’s rich design heritage

"When it comes to luxury & fashion, people only project London and Paris as the ultimate destination. But the scenario is changing with a host of young designers ready to bring glory to Eastern European culture on the global canvas. It all started in 2014, when Magda Butrym, a young Warsaw-based stylist-turned-fashion designer, debuted a 35-piece collection of floral print dresses and blouses, finished with cutaway detailing and hints of leather and hand crochet."

 

 

Young designers aim to catapult Eastern Europes rich design heritage

 

When it comes to luxury & fashion, people only project London and Paris as the ultimate destination. But the scenario is changing with a host of young designers ready to bring glory to Eastern European culture on the global canvas. It all started in 2014, when Magda Butrym, a young Warsaw-based stylist-turned-fashion designer, debuted a 35-piece collection of floral print dresses and blouses, finished with cutaway detailing and hints of leather and hand crochet. She always wanted to launch a label that was distinctly and proudly Polish. Before starting her own label, she had worked in a number of small design businesses in Warsaw.

Historically, Poland and other Eastern European countries such as Hungary and Romania, have never been considered high-fashion destinations. Yet close ties exist for decades, with factories across the region quietly producing garments and accessories for Western European luxury houses from Louis Vuitton to Hugo Boss. Now, a new generation of luxury entrepreneurs is building businesses that take advantage of that craftsmanship.

Emerging Eastern Europe

Aeron

 

In Hungary, contemporary women’s wear brand Aeron was founded in 2012 by Eszter Aron, its head designer, and three friends, with Vivien Laszloffy joining the business as chief executive in 2015. The label's philosophy is to be a brand that people will recognise and know is from Budapest, in the same way people look at Acne and know it's from Sweden. The brand gained initial success from Asia where there’s quite a demand for their clothing. More than 60 per cent of its sales now come from the region: In Japan, Aeron is stocked in major department store Isetan and fashion chain Tomorrowland, as well as in a string of boutiques across South Korea, China and Hong Kong.

Proximity to workshops and factories also prompted Alexandru Adam, a Romanian footwear designer, to move to Bucharest after studying in London at Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art and designing shoes for Vivienne Westwood, a British fashion label. After introducing his own accessories and quality casual label called Metis in 2016, Adam initially intended to divide his time between the two cities. But after Britain's vote to leave the European Union, he was prompted to think again.

According to him, most of his designer friends who have their own brands are considering alternative options for when the UK will be out of the EU. Everyone produces outside of the UK and most of the materials come from the EU anyway, from suppliers in France, Belgium, Italy and Romania. Really, it just didn't make financial sense for them to keep their company in London anymore.

Across the Black Sea from Romania lies Georgia, another former Soviet republic. The fashion and arts scene of Tbilisi, its capital city, has caught the fashion industry’s eye, in large part because of Demna Gvasalia, Founder of cult street-wear label Vetements and creative director of Balenciaga.

N-Duo-Concept, the brainchild of Nina Tsilosani and Natuka Karkashadze, a former fashion writer for publications such as Elle Ukraine and Harper's Bazaar Kazakhstan, started life in 2014 as an e-commerce website championing lesser-known brands. A year later, they unveiled a clothing line under the same name and with a similarly offbeat aesthetic, produced in Tbilisi and stocked in a number of foreign boutiques.

 
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