Have you ever wished to go back in time and get crazy in Elvis Preslay concert, or go to a Tiffany store with Audrey Hepburn for a little shopping? Or maybe, you wish to be a drag queen for a day and dance like Justin Johnston in the legendary RENT musical, however you might be needing high heels – size 45?.
All your dreams can easily come true, since on the map of Budapest, we have a vintage shop called Szputnyik, which in relatively short time became a fashion mecca for all the errant souls.
Szputnyik is something more than another vintage store in the city. It is a safe harbor for those, who yearn for things from the past, yet don’t mind to look into the future. But as a ship wouldn’t sail without its captain, Szputnyik would be nowhere there without its dream team, which is headed by Ingrid Szekeres.
Couple of days ago we met in her cozy office and talked a lot about fashion industry in Budapest, Hungarian society and their demands and Szputnyik mission on top of that.
The Spoiled Queen: Szputnyik shop seems to be one of the biggest vintage stores in Budapest. How did it all started? What gave you the first impulse to open such a store?
The concept of Szputnyik shop comes from owner Roland Vörös who founded the first shop in back in 2009 at Bakáts square. During his journey’s abroad he was greatly impressed by the world of flea markets and vintage shops, so he decided to start one here in Hungary. I joined Szputnyik in 2011 when we opened the shop on Dohány street. I studied form design, than worked in advertisement industry but I’ve always seen fashion as my major field of interest.
The story of Szputnyik started with us and continues its way, both of us obsessively believe in Szputnyik’s reason of existence so we collect our products to sell with desperate enthusiasm.
The Spoiled Queen: From where do you order clothes? And how does the selection process work for you?
For us collecting garments is more than a pass-time. It’s a method to preserve and value history, fashion and culture. Our aim is to become the pioneers of unique clothing, and to draw people’s attention to be creative, find their style and dare to express themselves.
The vintage products found in our shops come from all over the world and are selected with special care out of a thousands of other pieces, but it also occurs that we directly travel for certain goods. We also keep an eye opened when we travel Hungary, one can find a lot of treasure on antique markets.
We honestly believe that combining the colorful antiquities of different eras with elements of contemporary fashion provides opportunity to the manifestation of an original and exciting style.
When it comes to new products we select limited numbered clothes manufactured in the terms of uniqueness to become parts of our actual collection by contacting our designers personally. It is criteria for these creations to fit the latest trends, to be characteristic, their prints should be daring, merry or infantile and should carry a message to help us express ourselves. This opens an opportunity to cross styles freely so everyone can easily find the clothes and accessories that fit him/her the most.
We are proud to claim that when it comes to unique tees and tops we offer the greatest variety in Budapest.
We don’t discriminate styles – Why couldn’t a coat from the 80’s match a new unique design product? Uniqueness is found in this very variety, this eclectic style. We are more focused on the character of the clothes than the brand. Of course good quality is essential too.
The Spoiled Queen: On the Szputnyik Facebook fan page, we can notice a lot of cool photo shoots. Do you hire professional models or you just invite friends? How often do you create a look book?
Most of the photos are done by our own Szputnyik team. These are kind of home photo shoots where we play every role. We noticed that facebook/instagram/etc. fans happen to like these kind of shoots the most. Together in a good mood we are able to create great things, and we love what we are doing. That also comes through the pictures, that’s what makes them loveable and immediate.
Of course we have more professional photo shoots too, depending on the concept and the platform.
The Spoiled Queen: Going deeper inside the topic, how would you describe the Hungarian fashion? Are there any recognizable features, which distinguish Hungarian fashion from any other ones?
I would say, the Hungarian fashion world is not in a very good situation today. I see some pretty talented designers, but it’s hard for them to prevail at home. We’re in short of fashion related events places and platforms where they could display their works. Most of them just try to open towards foreign markets. Here we lack the unity and the support and sadly most of the Hungarian customers cannot afford themselves to buy designer clothes.
It is kind of difficult to prevail on Hungarian markets, I think it’s important to stay original and unique,and on top of that you have to constantly renew yourself and remain diverse and flexible. I think five years ago we had a trailblazer role with our style and concept in Hungary though we couldn’t know how people would react to a shop with such unique profile filled with tons of bohemian stuff.
Nowadays vintage gets more and more popular among the youth too, since it has became a part of the trend. And the generation trained on different foreign scholarships simply loves it, since they’ve already explored this exciting world in western countries. On the other hand the older range are deeply emotionally attached to these old pieces of clothing.Vintage style in itself is exciting because each cloth and accessories has its own story, they are a part of history.
The number of our visitors keeps growing, one of the main reasons of that is the vast number of tourists interested in the underground „multicultural” Budapest. For us everything is a new trend and a primary goal that is extraordinary and exciting, everything that is old but still able to show its fresh side.
The Spoiled Queen: And what is this individual style?
We combine style with creativity to get a unique mix of products when it comes to collecting clothes and accessories or creating the interior of our shops. Looking at this extreme milieu you can observe a ruin-pub style world that can be entitled as a „hungaricum’ nowadays, filled with re-thought furniture which is naturally our concept as well.For those who love the unusual, but demand the sophisticated design, the encounter of past and present.
The Spoiled Queen: Living here nearly 4 years, I have noticed a lot of disturbingly shinny clothes; you know sequins, studs and sometimes too many Chinese products, which don’t look good. What is your opinion about that?
That is sadly something we are unable to change. It’s due to our country’s economical situation that a lot of people are forced to buy cheap and low quality garments because they can’t afford to spend more money. However it is true that one does not necessarily need to buy those clothes you mentioned to look good. I believe that clothing is not a question of money, I love every flea market where I found countless treasures before, so I can only recommend those.
The Spoiled Queen: Let’s talk a bit about Szputnyik’s clients. Who are they, and what they mainly look for in your store?
The typical „Szputnyik customer” may he/she be Hungarian or a foreigner must be opened, interested and must have a passion for unique and peculiar clothes.
The Hungarian folks love our new and individual designs, to go further they demand them, which makes us very happy. It’s still harder to catch their interest when it comes to vintage stuff, but more and more people open towards that as well. We try to co-operate with bloggers and organize photo shoots to advertise the inspiration power hidden in the vintage pieces.
We can categorize who shops in each of our stores and how. The customers of the Bazaar (at Bakáts square) mostly consist of regular clients and shoppers from theaters and the movie world. The interior brings out the child from even the most strict person.There are so many impulses with with all the accessories popping up from every corner of the store, that one gets the sense that he/she is on some kind of „fashion playground” where he/she has to try on everything just for fun. Through the years D20 become the destination of stylists, photographers and those on keen on individual looks. There are also a lot of foreigners coming who always happen to find something exciting, to our great pleasure.
The Spoiled Queen: What is your opinion about Hungarian fashion industry? Is there a big demand for local brands or do Hungarians prefer doing their shopping in stores such as Zara, H&M, Stradivarius ect?
I think there is a strong demand for local brands and stores, for everything that is not conventional. This is why foreigners love this place, and this is why we love it too.
The Spoiled Queen: Finally, if you could give couple of fashion advices to men and women, what would that be?
We encourage everyone to be creative, find their own style and express themselves. Be free to play with styles, patterns, colors and shapes. Fashion is about individuality, selecting garments and combining outfits is a matter of personal choice.
The Spoiled Queen: What are your plans for the future?
It turned out so, that we are going to move the Dohány street shop. The address remains because the past and future spot is part of the same building. Our new headquarters will start to operate in the beginning of April, where we will wait everyone in love with eccentrics on a bigger ground; 300 square meters instead of our old 130. We try to be more opened towards our foreigner clients and the ones not from the capital, right now we are working on building a new, better web shop which will bring a complete change in profile too.
We put great emphasize on widening our collaborations with costume designers and theaters, and supporting the works of students in fashion related schools.
We do see Szputnyik as more than just a chain of shops, since the spirit we represent has countless dimensions: we started a T-shirt design contest, we organize photo exhibitions, fashion shows, we are present on WAMP (the Hungarian design fair), on Design Week, and Sziget (one of the main festivals in Central Europe) as well. We try to remain colorful and opened, to advertise the world of Szputnyik on a wider range.
This really comprehensive conversation helped me better to understand the Hungarian approach towards fashion. Ingrid admitted, that people do not really accept fashion as a part of the culture, here and it is still not so common among Hungarians to think about the colors, shapes and dressing up in a way they could express themselves. There is also a general problem with the trends, which are coming here with a detainment, however as I already stated, where there is no demand, there is no supply.
I think we cannot change people mentality immediately, but surely by organizing more fashion events or venues, we can underline its importance. As there are a lot of great designers in Budapest and artistic potential in general, I’m convince, that it’s only the matter of time, when Hungarians start to follow the latest trends. Szputnyik team has already taken an initiative and is always there to help out.
Ingrid was kind enough to translate our whole interview into Hungarian – that’s what we call my dears , INVOLVEMENT!
You will be able to see Hungarian version on The Spoiled Queen FB fan page.
Can that help to expand the fashion sense in Hungary?