According to members of the Hungarian Fashion & Design Agency, HFDA, the greatest strength of the Budapest Central European Fashion Week, BCEFW, is in the diversity of Budapest.

Through the HFDA, recent seasons of BCEFW have provided designers and emerging brands from across the Central and Eastern European region with the opportunity to gain significant industry connections. Last year, BCEFW hosted nearly 70 international buyers, influencers, and fashion editors in addition to Hungarian media outlets. Nearly 6,000 participants engaged in BCEFW this season including 150 members of the press. The aim of the organization is for BCEFW to become part of the national image and strengthen international opportunities for its designers.

Here, Zsófia Bata-Jakab, chief executive officer of the Hungarian Fashion & Design Agency discusses the importance of drawing attention to the bi-annual fashion week, the unique qualities of BCEFW, and the challenges facing designers today.

WWD Studios: What are the goals for the designers participating in BCEFW?

Zsófia Bata-Jakab: Taking part in and showcasing at BCEFW has many benefits and has gained increasing prestige, making it one of the most defining platforms for domestic and regional designers to present their collections. In addition to being able to network within the industry, designers presenting their collections at BCEFW are also able to take part in mentoring programs aimed at supporting them in reaching the catwalks of the world’s fashion capitals.

The events hold a huge opportunity for brands facing foreign expansion: by showcasing at BCEFW, not only will they gain recognition, but they’ll also gain momentum to enter the international market. The event is seen as a sales promotion platform and one that has already brought the expected breakthrough for Central and Eastern European talent.

It is a great honor for us, that industry professionals from across the globe are open to BCEFW, with Carlo Capasa, President of the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, as a returning guest to the event.

This year, the HFDA announced its Young Talent Program, which provides a complete picture of how the market works through workshops, professional consultations, and study tours, preparing young talents for the challenges they may face ahead. The workshops, which are a part of the first phase of the program, focus on legal aspects, manufacturing technology, and communication tools that are essential to developing a brand concept. Designers participating in the program are also given the opportunity to join the international mentoring program.

The 2021 Spring-Summer collections will be digitally unveiled in the form of runway videos between October 6-7 on BCEFW’s official website, where, just like the most renowned influencers, stars, fashion magazine editors and buyers, anyone can attend the region’s most defining digital event who is interested in the world of fashion and the latest trends. In this virtual mode, BCEFW provides brands with new sales opportunities, and by doing so, is able to support their economic stability.

WWD Studios: How does the Hungarian Fashion & Design Agency help designers to grow?

 Z.B.J.: The Agency is continuously working on opening as many doors as possible to domestic designers. The aim of the HFDA is to increase the Hungarian fashion and design industry’s international recognition and prestige, and through this, strengthening the country’s image. In addition, its most important tasks include increasing export, strengthening and developing the country’s domestic manufacturing background, and developing its traditional creative and industry knowledge.

We aim to provide help in four areas: education, manufacturing, commerce, and in helping designers maintain their domestic and international stability.

WWD Studios: What are some challenges facing these designers today and how can this platform help?

Z.B.J.: The Coronavirus pandemic has shaken the fashion industry on a global scale, prompting the rethinking of previously safe and proven methods. Restrictive measures introduced due to the virus made it impossible for events to be held as usual – or at all – and that played a significant role in reaching potential customers. With the pausing of domestic and international fairs, exhibitions and presentations, industry players have missed out on countless sales opportunities. Based on the latest analysis, it can be said that the Hungarian fashion and clothing industry’s production and sales turnover is located at mid-level within the Central European region.

Thanks to digitalization, some difficulties caused by the virus can be overcome, and more and more domestic and international examples of this can be seen. In the age of digitalization, designers have every chance to build a global brand in Hungary today. Success depends on the right timing, talent, and most importantly good storytelling. We need to keep up with the ongoing changes.

Due to the uncertainty of the upcoming period, the whole of BCEFW had to be rethought in order to continue to provide visibility for Hungarian designers. This year, the event took place in an unusual form in terms of arrangements, conduct, and programs. During their shows, the designers gave insight into their 2020-2021 Autumn-Winter collections. With this unique solution, not only did the HFDA adapt to the current situation, but it also added extra creativity to BCEFW, as those interested were able to get to know the inspiration and design process of the designers thanks to the showcases.

WWD Studios: What makes Budapest Central European Fashion Week unique?

Z.B.J.: While New York Fashion Week is characterized by diversity and intensity, London by rebellion and eccentricity, Milan by boldness and brilliance, and Paris by elegance and creativity, BCEFW’s identity is determined by the impact it has had on the fashion and culture of Central and Eastern Europe in recent times and on the collections of international luxury houses. Behind each Hungarian brand is a captivating story, which comes to life on the catwalks of the BCEFW.

We can proudly say that the region has become one of the biggest sources of inspiration for luxury brands. Contributing to this process there are several prestigious Italian and French brands, such as Balenciaga and Blumarine, who have contracted Georgian, Ukrainian, and Polish designers and stylists. Additionally, the Hungarian Nanushka brand has resonated with fashion fans in New York and Paris.

For the most part, BCEFW showcases brands that consider the combination of traditional and contemporary art, and minimalism and creativity to be the greatest strengths of Hungarian fashion. Hungary’s excellent geographical location, its dominant textile and clothing industry past, and its craft and cultural background are excellent settings for the influx of creative energies.

The Young Talents show is now an inseparable part of BCEFW which offers new graduates the opportunity to present their talent to a wider audience. Although these fashion designers are still only at the beginning of their careers, their huge development potential is something for everyone to see.

The event also provides a place for professional dialogues, including the Budapest Fashion and Tech Summit – a priority program organized as part of BCEFW, which aims to play a leading role in the Central European region. The all-day, English-language program, is organized with the aim of setting a tradition for the future, brings together professionals from around the world to share their experiences and move forward with the issues currently affecting the industry most, such as sustainability, digitalization, and innovative business solutions.

As the organizers of the Budapest Fashion and Tech Summit consider communication and knowledge sharing within the profession as very important elements and pay special attention to ensuring various educational and practice-oriented opportunities are present at university and vocational training levels as well. The Budapest Fashion and Tech Summit will take place in a digital form in December 2020 and will be available to everyone free of charge.

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