Nanushka launches new alternative to leather
Guests invited to the presentation of Nanushka's Spring/Summer 2023 collection were greeted by a palette of pastel colors combining different textures and highlighting traditional craft techniques. The event took place during Paris Fashion Week, in a bright space located at number 51 rue de Monceau, where the Hungarian brand chose to present its latest collection in a showroom format, after having organised a runway show at the Palais Garnier in March.
"The main idea of this collection was to find beauty in imperfection," explained Sandra Sandor to FashionNetwork.com. The creative director and founder of Nanushka said that this philosophy "has always been at the heart of the brand, but we are further emphasizing it this season." The collection, which at first glance has little imperfections, featured flowy and suggestive juxtapositions in warm and neutral tones as well as reinterpretations of the brand's signature garments such as long knit tops or dresses, oversized shirts, wide and structured blazers, fitted skirts and satin pants.
A contemporary touch was brought by bohemian embroidery and revisited logos: a discreet lowercase "n" adorned turtleneck T-shirts and denim ensembles with tone-on-tone prints, in both the women's and men's lines. "The brand's menswear is in a way the little brother of the Nanushka woman. The design teams work very closely together," said the London College of Fashion graduate regarding the aesthetic coherence between the two lines. Initially known as a womenswear brand, Nanushka also offers unisex pieces as part of its men's and women's collections.
Attention to detail was seen not only in the designs, but also in the construction of the garments. "We really wanted to emphasize the human touch. A lot of the pieces were made by hand using traditional techniques. I wanted to pay homage to the artisanal methods of our craftsmen and for the garments to exude that personal touch and the emotions that are poured into them when they are made," said Sandor, proud of her in-house design team stationed at the company's headquarters in Budapest, an atelier employing around 20 people.
Hand embroidered pieces, braided tops, draped distorted prints and unique handbags make up the collection, woven using a crochet technique used in rug making. The brand emphasized "intuitive and organic design". "Our goal is to create a new heritage based on the idea of combining traditional Hungarian techniques while developing new innovations," added Sandor. This is embodied in one of the brand's most iconic bags: an oversized origami-style accessory that has been reinterpreted as a patchwork in soft pastel tones, made using deadstock fabrics.
"It's a very practical design that combines our values of innovation, craftsmanship and functionality," said the designer. The accessories category, which includes footwear, hats, small leather goods, eyewear and jewelry, is also seeing an increase in sales, "Especially bags!", said Sandor, excited about the category's potential.
In search of the perfect material
An innovative alternative material to leather dubbed Oktobor, which means 'eco-leather' in Hungarian, was the highlight of the collection. Nanushka's innovation department has been working on the fabric for the past four years together with key players in its supply chain. The result? Lightweight and supple garments visually resembling leather, rendered in pastel colors such as light yellow, sky blue and lilac purple. The material, made of 56% recycled polyester from PET plastic bottles and 44% polyurethane, requires 80% less water to manufacture than other wet processing methods.
"Our vegan leather performed very well in the market, but this version is even better. It has taken us a very long time to get the exact effect we were looking for. Our goal was to find a new alternative to leather, produced in a more sustainable way, with a luxurious texture and a better quality surface," said Sandor of her new trademark. "The beauty of the material is tremendously important. We don't want to produce sustainable pieces that are not beautiful and pleasant to the touch," she continued.
Founded in 2006, the Budapest-based brand is one of the first premium brands to adopt a sustainable approach with vegan leather pieces. Part of the Vanguards Group's brand portfolio, which also includes brands such as Aeron and Sunnei, Nanushka operates three stores of its own in Budapest, London and New York. The label is also distributed in 140 physical points-of-sale and in multiple luxury e-commerce platforms, such as Farfetch, Browns and MyTheresa. The company, which already employs about 100 people, expects to close the current fiscal year with a turnover of 50 million euros.
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