11 / 11 / 11 – or November 11, 2011 – it seems to be a perfect date to propose to your girlfriend, to get married, to time the birth of your child (crazy!) to or to start a new business. Perhaps a new business with the potential of a cult following. In the heart of Budapest. With Budapest branded baseball caps and T-Shirts and other casual stuff. Are you with me and can you connect the dots?
OK, admittedly, it might seem to be a dull idea at first glance, but wait for a second and look again. Why not exploit the potential and the positive image that the Hungarian capital has, and start branding it differently from what we are used to – for example as a street wear brand by adding a healthy grain of patriotism to the story?
Well, the founders of BP Shop™ had exactly this idea. A little over two years ago they probably could not even foresee the huge potential of their venture. But looking back now, it seems that the market was actually waiting for this brand. Their baseball caps, T-shirts, hoodies and other accessories are already cult – some styles are sold out within a few hours after they arrive at the stores and sometimes they do not even make it to the web shop. BP Shop managed to build a huge loyal follower fan base within two years: currently they have 56k+ Facebook fans and the number is growing by the day.
But back to the beginnings: it all started with two high school friends Peter Jakab and Akos Lenkey, both of them originally from Dunaujvaros. They moved to Budapest to study design and afterwards Peter started to tour the city as a signer with his jazz band, while Akos went back to his hometown and opened a street wear shop that was running really well – until it got broken into and was sold by the owners. Akos has always been into baseball caps, he owns thousands – his friends probably would not recognize him without him wearing one. As the legend goes, Akos and one of his friends appeared on a photo once and both of them wore a baseball cap: one of the caps with the letter B and the other one with the letter P – that adds up to BP alias Budapest – as BP is the ‘official’ abbreviation for Budapest in Hungarian. And it made a click in Akos’ head.
Peter, currently Chief Creative Officer at the BP Clothing Company, and Akos who manages the entire business, started to experiment with a similar baseball cap to what we can see everywhere with the NY or LA signs, but with the capital letters BP. Friends and family loved their new designs and the business idea was born: build a brand around the Budapest name and the city feeling. The first retail store opened November 11, 2011 and since then BP Shop designed and sold several ‘BDPST’, ‘BUDA FCKN PEST’, ‘BVDA’-like garments or ones relating to the fact that once Buda and Pest were two separate cities and the year 1873 marked their merger. Former Hungarian leading personalities such as Szechenyi, Radnoti, or Babits, etc. have also been featured on their T-shirts and caps in a unique way.
Despite its huge success in Hungary, the BP Shop crew is not really takin’ it easy and is always working on new projects, new collaborations and designs. The team now has excellent connections to the Hungarian music scene and it also managed to bring names such as the Wu-Tang Clan, Redman or Sean Price to the major festivals in Hungary. And what is more remarkable, BP Shop was the official outfitter of the famous Wu-Tang Clan during its European tour last summer. The clothing company is becoming a lifestyle brand in the true sense of the word in record time, it organizes various events and is present in several other areas of the Budapest life.
In addition to their own branded clothing, BP Shop also sells other cool street wear brands such as Stüssy, Vans, Adidas Originals, Carhartt, Starter, etc. Obviously, the first BP Shop customers came out of the hip-hop, rap and underground music scene, however these days people with different musical orientation also love the brand. The other unique selling point that BP Shop has, is that they have their entire line produced in Hungary, with the exception of baseball caps, that are produced in Germany. Interestingly, BP Shop branded T-shirts and caps are becoming preferred souvenirs that visitors like to take home – instead of the low quality ones that come from other continents . . .
Although my personal taste is slightly different from the BP Shop clothing style, I will definitely purchase a few cool T-shirts and hoodies from them. Honestly, I caught myself raising the question: why do I actually favor them, why do I want to own something from this brand? And the answer is: I just do not know. Somehow I totally like this brand, their story, their twisted humor and freshness, their effortless image and most importantly their creativity & drive. The reason for me liking BP Shop might also be that this brand is able to reach out to young Hungarians by speaking their language and offering them a different, modern way of re-connecting with their roots and heritage.
For more information please visit the website or join their Facebook community for regular updates. Unfortunately, both are available only in Hungarian, however good news is that in addition to their brick & mortar stores in the Wesselenyi street, Westend and Arkad shopping centers, BP Shop has a web shop and delivers outside of Hungary, too. Savvy online shoppers will know how to purchase online in any language . . .
PS: . . . and before the question is raised: founders were clever enough to officially register their trademark ‘BP’ and ‘BP Shop’ to avoid legal fights with the representatives of the Hungarian capital or the gas station shops operated by British Petrol.
Source of images: courtesy of BP Shop™