There are a lot of talented young fashion designers in Hungary – some of them have been in business for a while now, others have just recently founded their own label and are currently building their brands. It is an extremely positive & bright sign to see these emerging creatives and their potential. One of these new emerging labels is Imogen, founded by the talented Viki Bajcsai in 2010. Viki is a very determined and goal oriented fashion designer and business woman, and I was very interested to find out more about her career path, the start of her business and how is she coping with business reality.
Hungarian Success Stories (HSS): What attracted you to join the fashion world and what excites you the most about it?
Viki Bajcsai, Imogen (VB): Fashion lets me express myself, I can re-live my memories and experiences as well as it also drives me to new fields. I love its seasonality, because it provides space for creating something new from scratch as well as I can build on my previous collections.
HSS: When did you realize that your place is in fashion?
VB: A lot of my childhood memories are related to creative activities, such as drawing or creating small things. Among my relatives there are gentlemen’s tailors and seamstresses, too. They let me play around with their sewing machines and with their support I was able to create my first small designs. This was definitely something I have very fond memories of. It seems that my family realized my skills and my joy associated with these types of activities early enough as they opened opportunities for me in this area.
HSS: Where did you eventually learn the trade secrets?
VB: The high school I visited in Szombathely (western Hungary) was specialized in the field of arts and design, and this period was very important for my personal development. When I started high school I was 14 years old and was not very certain which area would be better for me: I was interested in graphics, but at the end I chose the textile field. After finishing high school, I wanted to study at the MOME – Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design in Budapest, however due to the numerus clausus I was not accepted, which I do not regret today at all. I had a precise vision about my future and I wanted to pursue this path. By having stayed in Budapest I was able to learn the trade secrets from well-known experts. During this time I gained tremendous amount of practice and experience, which I am very grateful for.
HSS: Your label Imogen was founded in 2010. Can you please introduce us your brand?
VB: Imogen designs are modern, experimental and emphasize an elegant and refined look, made of high quality materials. If I had to describe in three words Imogen is about harmony, elegance and minimalism. I like to experiment with clear cuts, my collections highlight the feminine silhouette and inner sensuality, and at the same time they embody the perfect harmony of form and function.
HSS: Where do you take inspiration from?
VB: It is a difficult question, as I am very open minded and anything that catches my senses can be a source of inspiration. There is always a motto to every collection and I build up the collection around this theme. At the same time though, it is very important to me that my designs are wearable and would also fit women, who do not necessarily have a perfect figure. I would like my clients to feel comfortable in my designs that emphasize their femininity in a classical sense.
HSS: Could you please introduce us your Spring / Summer 2013 collection?
VB: My spring & summer collections usually have a fresh momentum in terms of colors as well as cut. As all my designs, the SS13 pieces reflect and emphasize femininity, but at the same time I also focused on their timeless and comfortable character. Materials used are mostly natural fabrics that are also enjoyable to wear during warmer periods as well as it ensures that this collection is not designed for women in certain age, rather for women with a certain style. The other aspect was that pieces could be combined easily.
HSS: What are your mid- and long-term plans with Imogen?
VB: More & more experts appreciate my work and my brand gets good critics. This is of course extremely important during my development. Obviously, what I am very happy about is that people not only talk about my label, but I was able to extend my client base within a short time and orders are increasing. My short-term plan is to be present internationally – starting with my next F/W-2013/14 collection. This is something I am currently working on and there are very promising signs. Furthermore, I would also like to offer accessories in the future, as these make a collection complete. For the SS13 collection I cooperated with Agnes Kovacs and she designed the complementary hat, belt and summer tote. And of course, I am continuously building my brand on every level step-by-step. Magazine appearances are important for my label and I am always very happy, when a public personality chooses my designs, e.g. recently Magdi Rúzsa (Hungarian singer) purchased two outfits from Imogen for her performance in the ‘Dal‘ show.
HSS: Where can we buy your designs?
VB: Imogen flagship shop-in-shop is in the Black Box Concept Store (Iranyi utca 8, Budapest). In addition, my designs can be purchased at Ourstyle Boutique online and in their physical stores in Budapest. We are also available in other Hungarian cities, such as in Sopron and Eger and in other online shops, too. Also, I am very happy to announce the re-launch of the Imogen website and the current collection is now available via the label’s own online store.
HSS: Can you please talk about the Black Box Concept Store? Is this also your business?
VB: In 2010 I teamed up with Péter Iványi and we envisioned a store with an exciting and unique atmosphere offering high quality clothing, shoes, jewelry and other accessories by talented young Hungarian designers and as I mentioned my designs are available here, too. I think the concept store is working out very well – which I am very happy about – as we received some very good feedback, e.g. a mention in the New York Times or one of the books by Taschen also mentions Black Box Concept Store as a ‘must visit’.
HSS: How big is your current team around Imogen?
VB: Currently, I work with a very small team, which gives me the freedom to be personally involved into every detail of my business. My partner is my most important pillar, not only privately, but also in terms of my brand: he is my consultant and sounding board in strategic and creative matters as much as he also acts as my critic. On the other hand I am very grateful that I can work with a highly professional execution team, who I can absolutely trust and count on.
HSS: Fashion business can be extremely hectic and stressful at times. Do you have hobbies or a certain ritual that helps you to relax after a stressful period of time?
VB: Currently, I do not relax too much, as I am very determined: I would like to meet expectations and want to succeed. This drives me day & night and my brain is on full speed, e.g. thinking about the next collection or about the next steps. Therefore I do not have time to do a lot of things outside of my business. I think I can be considered workaholic and it indeed takes a lot of energy out of me. However, when I feel that I need some time-out, I usually read books, because this activity settles my thoughts a bit and helps me to unwind, which in turn results in new ideas. Actually, this is the circle that I love and it keeps me moving – this is my own perpetum mobile.
Well, even though fashion business looks very glamourous from the outside, it is a very tough business from the inside – rationalism is almost totally absent as it is based on a lot of emotions. Building a brand and getting noticed requires a lot of energy and unfortunately, it is not enough to have a few fabulous pieces. One of Imogen’s advantage is that Viki Bajcsi’s designs are definitely wearable and that Viki does not follow trends closely to be able to offer timeless pieces. On the other hand she knows exactly where she is at right now and has a clear vision about where she wants to be in the mid-term – this is a very good starting position. … and of course we keep all our fingers crossed for Imogen that Viki’s dream will come true.
Source of images: courtesy of Imogen, photos by Roland Rab.