Described as a brand of confident style and subtle femininity, Nanushka is known for drawing inspiration from the spiritual journey through cultures and time, effortlessly combining function with flair and delivering a modern, versatile, day to night wardrobe for the contemporary customer.
Launched in 2006 by London College of Fashion alumni, Sandra Sandor, the label was born as a natural extension of her bachelor's degree thesis. "I felt so inspired by the theme [of the thesis] which looked back at the Bauhaus movement, which has some very prominent Hungarian representatives, that I wanted to develop it into a full collection and the theme became one of the core mantras of my design process till this very moment: 'Form follows Function'," explains Sandor.
Sandor's approach to collections is innovative; starting with a theme in the spring collection, she builds on it and incorporates it into the next collection. "It's essential for me for the pieces to be comfortable and functional, clothes should elevate its wearer and not restrict, that's when the true beauty of a person comes out," she adds.
Inspired by her mother who established a successful childrenswear business during the communist era, in 2016 Sandor decided to take a more entrepreneurial approach with the brand with the appointment of her longtime partner, Peter Baldaszti, as co-owner and CEO. "Up until 2016 we were mostly a locally operating brand, but then Peter joined who brought a truly entrepreneurial mindset into the business and was able to secure an investor as well which took as an entirely new journey and Nanushka has gained international recognition. I think it's important to have people around you who you can trust, who are honest and they will stand next to you," she continues.
Unfortunately, the past couple of months have been rough for the label. "Our business has been affected by the pandemic as well. We were one of the first ones who closed both our stores in NYC and Budapest. We were planning to open our London store in June, but now it's going to be postponed," tells us, Sandor. "As a result of the changes that are happening around us, we had to take some cost-cutting measures and mitigate risks for the year. It's heartbreaking when you have to deal with pay cuts, but I think there is also hope in this whole process that we learn how to work and be more sustainable."
The brand had to temporarily close stores and lay off employees in a time where countries' measures everywhere are already restrictive enough. "This is not the time to celebrate the commercial success. It's heartbreaking for us, but we are still an emerging business, we do not have reserves for months. We have cut costs in every corner of the business, this will impact employees, but we do our best to keep as many people, as reasonably possible," the founders explain. "Our culture is very much like a tech startup, so it was sort of easy to transition to a fully remote working environment. We have adjusted really well. The crazy thing is that days at home seem to be even shorter than at the office."
Both Sandor and Baldaszti agree that this is the time to reflect and rethink their business model to ensure a stronger comeback. "We always strive to communicate with our audience in ways that engage and inspire, but now it's important that we are considerate and sensitive to the current situation. We want to reassure and lift spirits in any way that we can, presenting our followers with something new that they can use in their world in some way to feel better – this is now more about ideas, aesthetic and mindsets than just product," they continue. "Of course, we are still a commercial business, but I think the values and initiatives we have been already working on for some time like sustainability will come to the forefront. It's at times like these that you value companies with core values that are aligned with your values and my gut feeling is that this will be a good market shift behaviourally for companies like Nanushka."
How will independent brands adapt to change in the months to come then? Hard to tell, but Sandor believes that to survive, we should all support each other. "People's behaviour changes during a crisis, but after the economy rebounds, they tend to return to their old habits. I think technology will be very much incorporated into fashion, we can use it in a very smart way which can help us to build a more sustainable slower fashion and to slow down. I hope that sustainability and mindfulness become a more important factor when it comes to decision making," she concludes.