We visited Nagy in her cosy shop. The designer does not only work there, this is where she lives too. The hall is already very homely accordingly. While she limited her own living quarters to a few square metres, Nagy left a lot of space for the tailoring workshop, which is the heart of the apartment. This is where she works day after day on her latest colourful creations. There are dresses, blouses and jackets with big patterns, but even bags, scarfs, home decorations and shoes – there is hardly anything that Eszter Nagy does not make.

She likes to mix local cuts and African fabrics and patterns. For example, in the case of a cuddly grey sweater that is hanging on a mannequin, modern sweatshirt material, which is quilted with cable stitching on its arms, meets traditional African fabric.

“This fabric is really special, it’s from Ghana,” Nagy says. “This is a traditional wax cloth. The motifs on it are often several hundred years old.” The sweatshirt collars are decorated with this traditional fabric and it is just the right piece to keep you nice and warm at wintertime and still slip a bit of an exotic touch into your outfit.


Unusual pieces

With African Tailoring Nagy focuses on women, but men too who are open and confident and would like to add a few unusual pieces to their wardrobe. Further, the designer would not like to determine a fixed target audience – neither in terms of origin, age, body shape or lifestyle. She only makes a limited number of most designs, and thus has only a few sample pieces. She prefers it when clients order tailored pieces, so that then their wishes and ideas, or even their own style, can become part of the end result.

“The clients often have an idea that they have seen on Pinterest, for example, and I try to make something out of it with the tools and materials that I have,” Nagy explains.

The designer has built a good relationship with the members of the African community in Budapest, and knows a lot of people at the embassies and those who regularly travel between the two continents. She uses these relationships to acquire authentic fabrics from Ghana, Senegal and other parts of Western Africa. A single piece of fabric is usually only enough to make one or two dresses, and this is another reason why the designs of Africa Tailoring are really individual pieces.

Of course, Nagy’s clients need to understand that this is why she cannot charge H&M prices: “This is not fast fashion, we are not producing millions of clothing pieces per year. Now that I have many orders it can take up to three or four weeks between the order and the completion of a piece. However, I hope that my clients will be able to use these clothes for a much longer period.”

For instance, a tailored dress is available from HUF 25,000. A sweatshirt, already made and which can be bought on site and worn immediately, costs HUF 12,000.

Dream destination: Africa


Nagy’s future includes producing more collections with limited pieces, and the next step would be to enter the retail market with her designs. At present the dresses and accessories of African Tailoring can only be purchased personally from the source.

But how did the idea arise, being a Hungarian, to open an African tailoring shop? “All of it began many years ago when someone I know brought a dress for me to repair, which she had bought in Africa. I immediately fell in love with the colours and the characteristic pattern. This same person brought me fabrics from Congo later on, from which I made my first collection. So this is how I began with African Tailoring,” Nagy explains with sparkling eyes.

As for the rather bulky brand name, African Tailoring, which is complemented on her Facebook site with the Hungarian translation (Afrikai Szabóság), she just shrugs. “First we had no name at all and as it spread out slowly that I was working with African materials, everyone began to call us the ‘African Tailor Shop’. So we simply stuck with it.” She does not rule out the possibility of a name change some time.

However, the designer was already represented at several fashion shows with her brand, among others also at the Africa-Days in Budapest but also at special events, such as Angola’s Independence Day celebration in Hungary.

There is one thing though that might surprise many people: Nagy herself has never been to Africa yet, although she always dreams about doing so. But it is expensive and her label is not making enough money yet to make her wish come true. Still, one day she will surely visit a real African fabric market and the traditional tailoring shops there, to learn even more about their techniques Continent. The Dark continent will never lose its exotic allure for her.


Workshops at African Tailoring

The trained seamstress regularly organises workshops in her shop. She shows how to work with African fabric and European cuts and make for example a colourful winter scarf or a practical gym bag. African Tailoring supplies the fabrics, sewing machines and other tools, and it doesn’t matter if you are a complete beginner. The process is deliberately kept simple, so participants get into the mood of doing things on their own.

The sewing workshops take around two hours and are relaxing: Men as well as women attend, often right out of the office. “When you work the whole day long in front of a computer, then this is a great way to make a change and create something with your own two hands. Many guests at my workshop are lost deeply in the work.” A self-made scarf or bag is a much more personal item than something from a shop, and English speakers are welcome.

African Tailoring (Afrikai Szabóság)

Budapest, District VII, 50 Nefelejcs utca

Orders can be made by telephone at (+36) 70 455-1015 or by email at afrikaiszabosag@gmail.com.

See www.afrikaiszabosag.hu

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