Nanushka's Sandra Sandor
The brand’s founder talks design details and steady success
Sandra Sandor’s Hungarian-based brand Nanushka has been quietly gathering momentum for just over a decade – and now, her effortlessly feminine collections are on fashion feeds all over the world. After graduating from the London College of Fashion in 2005, Sandor launched the womenswear label in her hometown, Budapest – combining her wanderlust with a form-follows-function mentality to create modern, versatile pieces with adventurous spirit. Focusing on fine craftsmanship, local production and wearability, Nanushka’s global shift has been organic. We took five with Sandor to get the full story…
Have you always wanted to work in fashion?
As far as I can remember. I have loved fashion since I was a little girl, as my mother ran a childrenswear business and I was her fitting model. I loved dressing up and helping her. However, I only committed myself to work in the fashion industry around the age of 17.
How did you learn your craft?
I studied at London College of Fashion which was great, not only in terms of my studies, but also because of London itself. It was such an amazing experience to see this big melting pot of different cultures and styles and how people expressed themselves. However, I was always surrounded by seamstresses thanks to my mother’s business and I think that was the most valuable and best way to learn.
I believe that if a garment is designed to function well, it will be beautiful by definition.
How would you describe the Nanushka aesthetic?
There are two main points. The first one which inspires all my collections is mixing distant cultural references and the second one is the aspects of functionality and design. I believe that if a garment is designed to function well, it will be beautiful by definition.
Does this sit back with your own?
Absolutely, it’s my mantra - comfort and function. If a piece of clothing feels comfortable, it will make you feel free and confident.
Is there a Nanushka woman?
Yes, but I like to call her a modern human. Someone who respects the life of others and their cultures, cherishes the planet and is deeply confident in her femininity. She also dares to express her style, likes functionality and values spirituality.
You quietly launched the brand back in 2005, but it’s only recently come to widespread attention. Was this intentional?
I have always been a courageous person, so I jumped right in at the deep end: I founded Nanushka right after I graduated without pursuing an internship at a fashion house. I wanted to learn the ropes and make my own mistakes. I think I needed those years to shape my world and find my voice. For the first seven years, we served mainly our local market. Around 2012, we started selling to international stockists, but we stayed under the radar until very recently. In the end of 2016, Peter, my partner in life and business joined me as the CEO of Nanushka, bringing a family business attitude to the brand. We have decided to pursue a more ambitious growth strategy with a more global presence and a complete rebranding to build a proper fashion house out of the brand.
What is the starting point when designing a new collection?
The main point in all my collections is my heritage and the city where I grew up – Budapest, which has always been the intersection of the East and West. This duality formed our culture, aesthetics and perspectives.
What are your main sources of inspiration?
My travels. I often reminisce the places I loved the most during my journeys. When you travel your mind becomes open almost childlike and ready to take in all the new impulses.
Your pieces are loved by influencers around the globe, to what do you attribute that success?
I would say, or I would love to believe, it’s because my creations hand the feeling of comfort and effortlessness. They are easy to wear wardrobe staples that carry you from day to night.
I adore scrolling through Instagram and seeing all these garments come alive. It is very inspiring to see all these amazing, beautiful women adding something extra to them.
It must be interesting to see how people style your clothes via Instagram…
I adore scrolling through Instagram and seeing all these garments come alive. It is very inspiring to see all these amazing, beautiful women adding something extra to them. You can even learn little style tricks which I absolutely love.
Does this influence your future collections?
Yes, in a way. It also gives me feedback on what works and what doesn’t and how can I make these garments even better by maybe changing little details or textiles.
What do you make of the current fashion landscape?
I find it very interesting how fashion industry has changed in the past few years and became more consumer faced and social/digital media led. This helped Nanushka a great deal, but it’s also a challenge because brands constantly have to find new ways to engage the customers and keep them interested. I think technology is becoming a greater part of the fashion industry in every way, inventing new materials, being more sustainable and in communication as well.
Sustainability has become a key focus within the industry, is this an important factor for you?
Very much, in May 2018 we joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and their Circular Economy initiative. Fashion is the second most wasteful and harmful industry in terms of polluting the planet. By joining their initiative, we can really start changing the industry, protecting this beautiful planet. The great thing about being part of this, is that they help you connect with other fashion brands and try to find solutions together. Moreover, we can use more and more alternative fibres as one of their main points is to get the brands connected with suppliers that are fully certified and all fibres are traceable. Our signature ready to wear pieces like the Hide puffer jacket for example, are all made of vegan leather, a material whose manufacturing cuts off a toxic and harmful tanning process without compromising the quality.
Why did you decide to launch the brand in Hungary?
I had always planned to move back home to Budapest after graduating, where I have my family and friends whose personal and professional support always meant a lot to me. The city is my home, this is where we live with Peter. Also, I find Budapest the most inspiring city.
The brand is now global, will you continue to keep production on your home soil?
Hungary has great craftsmanship and many fashion brands utilise this. 85% of our collection is produced in Hungary. It’s also really important for us, especially Peter, to try to create new workplaces for all these talented people.
Was price point an important factor for you?
It’s important for me that my designs are available for everyone. We try to make it as accessible as possible whilst not compromising on quality.
What’s next for the brand?
We have a very exciting year ahead of us. Just before our first New York Fashion Week presentation, we re-opened our new flagship store in Budapest ‘Nanushka Store & Café’. Then in April, we brought Nanushka to LA and opened our first pop-up store for a four-month period. We are currently working on a bunch of special collections and collaborations to broaden our selection.Shop Nanushka