East European fashion labels aim for the world stage
By Marton Dunai and Dagmara Leszkowicz
BUDAPEST/WARSAW (Reuters) - The winding flower embroidery of the Matyo folk is a living traditional art form in the tiny Hungarian village of Tard, where Rozi Vaczi spent time as a child.
When Vaczi had a T-shirt decorated with the embroidery two years ago for her boyfriend Ervin Nagy, a well-known Hungarian actor, it sparked intense interest in her company, Matyo Design. Urban hipsters now readily fork out $45 for a Matyo T-shirt.
After opening a showroom in Budapest earlier this year, Vaczi now hopes to build a fashion design business on the ruins of Hungary's communist-era textile factories.
"We'd like to create a company that sells internationally," said Vaczi, earning a global "place in fashion design" in a first for a Hungarian firm.
Around emerging Europe, where garment assembly for Western brands has been a thriving business for years, there is a new confidence that local designs also have a chance on the world stage.
With wages still low compared to other regions, including Asia where costs have ballooned, retailers are moving business back to eastern Europe, meaning a big influx of orders and a new investment in infrastructure, fashion company executives said.
Local manufacturers are also helped by the potential for expansion in domestic markets such as Poland and Russia which, though huge, are a lot less saturated than in the West.
"I think that clothing companies from (central Europe) have big growth potential," said Kamil Szlaga, a retail analyst at KBC Securities in Warsaw. "The region still has room to catch up with western Europe... Surely, Russia is their key target." Continued...