East European designers strut their stuff down runways of high fashion.

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Nanushka, a Hungarian fashion brand, boasts celebrity clients like Rihanna, Justin Bieber, and Billie Eilish.

However, the brand is just one of a slew of new Central European designers vying for a place at the top of the fashion world, displaying their collections on the runways of London, Paris, and New York as they eye rich markets like China and the United States.

Nanushka, a Budapest based company that was formerly a struggling local brand, has seen yearly revenue increase 33 fold to 33 million euros ($38.32 million) since a private equity firm took over in 2016.

According to the annual FT 1000 list of Europe’s high-growth companies, Nanushka has become Europe’s fastest-growing fashion company, focusing on sustainable designs such as vegan leather items.

Other central European ready-to-wear designers include Slovakia’s Nehera, worn by Hollywood actresses Keira Knightley, Tilda Swinton, and Marion Cotillard, and Poland’s Magda Butrym, worn by Megan Fox and Hailey Bieber, among others.

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FBInstagram)’s and other internet platforms have aided these companies in carving out a niche in high fashion, allowing young, independent designers outside of major fashion centres to be seen by a worldwide audience hungry for something distinctive. “Without social media probably you know 15-20 years ago it would have been almost impossible to build a global fashion house from Budapest,” Nanushka’s Chief Executive Peter Baldaszti – married to founder and designer Sandra Sandor said.

Despite the pandemic, the business built a store in New York in 2019 and another in London in 2020. It believes the United States is its greatest market, but China is the future. In 2020, Baldaszti’s parent business, Vanguards Fashion Group, purchased Italian fashion brand Sunnei for $7 million as part of a goal to create a fashion portfolio across Europe.

Central Europe has a rich history of textile artistry extending back to the First Republic period between the two World Wars, when the region was a cultural and design epicentre.

Following the fall of Communism in 1989, Western luxury brands and fashion houses established factories in the region to create bags, scarves, and clothing, taking advantage of the region’s proximity to western European markets, lower costs, and talented workers.

According to Hamburg-based information provider Statista, local luxury companies in those markets are now moving in the opposite direction to tap into a global luxury goods sector expected to rise to roughly $383 billion in 2025 from $309 billion this year, aided by demand in China and among Millenials.

“We started with showing in Paris … but Instagram is something that really opened the door for brands from countries that are not really on the fashion map at all,” Polish handbag-maker Chylak founder Zofia Chylak said.

A Chylak purse, made of Italian leather, costs between 200 and 250 euros, and the brand’s popularity among some Polish intellectuals living abroad has helped it become a household name.

Story by : Norvisi Mawunyegah