Sandra Sandor wasted no time after completing her fashion degree in London to establish herself as one of the New East’s brightest young designers, heading straight back to her native Budapest to launch her own fashion brand: Nanushka. Epitomising modern luxury, Nanushka positions itself at the intersection of style and comfort, never sacrificing one for the other as it seeks out versatile, new expressions of minimalism. For Sandor, the masculine and feminine go hand in hand, a fact clear in the simple forms and over-sized shapes that mark so much of the made-in-Budapest brand’s collections. The Resort SS18 collection takes its inspiration from two seemingly opposing cultures: the far east and wild western Americana. Think denim, leather fringe and silk scarves.
We spoke with Sandor about inspiration, masculinity and what’s next for the New East.
Who are Nanushka?
Behind the brand we have team of 35. The CEO is my boyfriend, Peter, he is also co-owner of the business. I do all the creative work together with Ahinaa, she is the assistant designer of the label. The name though itself comes from my childhood, my father used to call me Nanushka. It stick with me
Describe your brand in three words.
Oh that’s difficult! I would say intuitive, functional, feminine.
When did you start your brand and why?
I started my company in 2005 and the first season was SS06. I was surrounded by fashion from a very young age because my mother had a children’s wear business in the 70s. I also modelled for her, and she did fittings on me when I was a child. During school holidays I was around the store helping her out, so i was really deeply involved and surrounded by clothes all my life. And then at the age of 17 I decided to study fashion and went to london. I graduated in 2004, then right after college I decided to set up my own line and that’s when i came back to Budapest to do that.
How do you differ from other fashion labels out there? What makes Nanushka special?
One thing that makes us different is that functionality and practicality are very important for us when we design, which for other brands is not always a top priority. At the same time, we are still on trend from an aesthetic and design perspective. Another thing is the fit of our clothes. We try to make sure everything is really comfortable, and almost all the fabrics are washable. They are adjustable as much as possible and just simply easy to wear. I believe the balance we manage to keep this way is something that makes us special.
Which fashion labels do you love and why?
I love Chloe and Stella McCartney. Generally, I think that the brands I like share not only aesthetic-wise similarities but most certainly values too. Stella McCartney’s brand ethos to being a responsible and honest company and refusing to use real leather and fur is something we can relate to. In the past two seasons we used a vegan leather which can be mistaken for real but is absolutely cruelty-free and as a plus, washable.
Tell me about your latest collection: what it is, where does the inspiration come from?
Usually we have one specific inspiration for every collection, but in general we are inspired by the traveller state of mind. Being far away from home helps you leave the usual preconceptions behind, you feel liberated to express yourself and play around with the concept of your style. When you travel you become much more curious and receptive and you’re more alert almost like a child.
In our latest collection we are trying to find the mutual language between Far Eastern Oriental culture and Wild Western Americana. Both cultures inspire me a lot and it’s a nice challenge in terms of design to not just pick one but to mix the two in one outfit or garment. For example we used fringes, leather and denim, which represent the western roots, and tassels, silk scarf-inspired elements to evoke the oriental and far eastern culture.
What do you want to do with Nanushka that you haven’t done before?
We feel it’s a good time to do our first presentation in one of the major fashion capitals, we are thinking New York or London. And a few seasons onwards we’d love to have our first catwalk show as well.
What’s next for Nanushka?
We are really excited about the fact that we are soon re-opening our Budapest store, which we are turning it to a lifestyle store, Our aim is to make it a landmark of Budapest.
Besides our own collections we are sourcing brands from around the world whose aesthetics are close to our heart. We will showcase special collaborations - one that is really close to my heart is a ceramics capsule collection I worked on with an artist. We are also thinking about vintage. We’d like to introduce some exciting vintage which we might even rework. This store will be a curated Nanushka universe as we like to call it. For the moment we are looking at opening in March.
Interview: Nadia Beard