“Part of a Hungarian Success Story”

Eszter Aron, left, in the showroom of her Aeron label in Budapest. The five-year-old brand, manufactured in Hungary, now makes more than 60 percent of its sales in Asia.

The Aeron Showroom in Budapest. Credit Akos Stiller for The New York Times

My Grandma Eleanor was born in Budapest, Hungary. Anything Hungarian fascinates me. That’s why reading that Eastern Europe is becoming a new and unexpected growing fashion hub sparked my interest. In 2012, contemporary women’s wear brand Aeron was founded by Eszter Aron, its head designer, and three friends. Vivien Laszloffy joined the business as chief executive in 2015; Ms. Laszloffy says that the label’s philosophy is to be a brand “that people will recognize and know is from Budapest, in the same way people look at Acne and know it’s from Sweden. People say it is against the odds to build a brand from here, rather than move to Paris or Milan, but actually we see it as an advantage. Everyone has a vision in their minds of what a French or Italian brand looks like. But no one can imagine a brand from Budapest yet. And so we can seize that space and make it our own.”  Ms. Laszloffy said the success that Aeron has seen signing on with Itochu, one of Japan’s largest trading companies, has boosted morale at home and put the brand in a new league: “The workers have always worked for foreign companies; now they are part of a Hungarian success story.

Now, when I visit the place where my Grandma Eleanor was born – I can also check out the fashion and the Aeron brand, whose “minimalist aesthetic and techno-fabrics” are helping to bring success home to Hungary.

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Happy Birthday, Grandma!

My Grandma Eleanor on her engagement day - what a fashionista!

My Grandma Eleanor on her engagement day – what a fashionista!

Although April 15th may bring fear to the hearts of many as the official day income taxes are due, for me it will always be a day of sunshine: April 15th was my Grandma Eleanor’s birthday. She passed away in 1991 at the age of 85, and had she lived she would be 106 years old today! My mother has always said that the trees start to bloom on my Grandma’s birthday and I know she is right. My Grandma Eleanor was not only a light in my life, but a burst of color for the world. Born in Hungary, she moved to New York City with her family when she was just seventeen, and changed her name from Elona to Eleanor because I guess she thought it sounded more American. Eleanor had vibrant red hair and with her long, lovely legs, she wore clothes so beautifully and elegantly. And her inner beauty truly matched her outer self.

Here she is on her engagement day, with my grandfather. The year was probably 1926. People dressed so much more formally in the 1920s. You can see the style of dress for the times in her cloche-style hat and coat.

Oh, and yes – I see the trees outside are starting to bud! Happy Birthday, Grandma!

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