Aeron on Working With Kindness, Craft and Day-To-Day Sustainability
Budapest based womenswear brand Aeron is the work of an aesthete and gentle soul Eszter Aron. Established in 2012, Aeron is an exploration of contemporary elegance and quality with a personal touch. Eszter has been careful to nurture her team of highly skilled creatives, acknowledging their role in helping to grow the label organically and cultivating a welcoming aura around the brand. A wealth of previous experience taught Eszter how to listen and stay flexible while navigating the responsibilities that come with running an international fashion company.
We caught up over the phone to hear about Eszter’s day-to-day approach to sustainability, love for her atelier and embracing new dawn of creativity and humbleness in fashion.
Advance Copy: Hi Eszter, I would love to find out about your early experiences in fashion. I believe your family were also working in the industry, could you tell us about this and your life before starting Aeron?
Eszter Áron: I guess it started in my childhood because my grandfather was a tailor and together with my mother they opened a textile business. My mum was very involved too she was travelling, importing sophisticated knitwear and garments from abroad. I think I was influenced by her style and the way she was around fashion and fabrics, she had a strong personality and aesthetic. After graduating from high school I realised that I was more of a visual person and decided to study fashion design. While studying I was also working for Hungarian brands so it was great to see all of that around me when I was 19 years old. I think it’s one of those professions that you can’t learn from books or classes. It’s a job that brings new situations every moment, every season: new fabrics, new solutions, new silhouettes. In the end – because there are very few fashion companies in Hungary – my parents thought that it was a risky profession and decided I should go on to study business. After studying marketing in a business school it was totally clear that fashion design was what I wanted to do.
All of these experiences made us more conscious when establishing Aeron with friends in 2012. I wasn’t a young designer who just finished school, I was someone who’s seen how production works, how to establish a collection and manage industry processes. I was lucky because I had help in terms of operations and funds, I wouldn’t be able to start Aeron alone.
“We will concentrate on our inner thoughts to create an artful package for our customers.”
AC: What has been the most important lesson that you have brought from your past experiences to managing Aeron now? Is there a key event that stands out?
Eszter: Yes definitely. It’s very different when you have to follow company rules or when you’re the boss and it’s your brand. If someone hasn’t been in that position before they wouldn’t know this feeling of being told what to do and how to do it, that’s the thing that I’m aware of. Working for others and being part of a team helped me understand how certain things can be sensitive to people and how I can help. I’m always there if something is wrong or if an issue comes up that we need to talk about, we try to do everything we can to change the situation or do it better next time. I think having that previous experience is key to helping you work together with others. That’s the most amazing thing about running a company – it’s this human side. I feel like Covid-19 has brought us even closer together because we spoke to each other more, that’s all we could do from home. A lot of people who work with us have been here from the beginning and they feel like they are a part of building Aeron.
AC: How would you define the bigger vision and strategy behind Aeron?
Eszter: We wanted to do something international, to create a high-quality brand with interesting fabrics – which is an important factor for me. We knew that for Aeron to survive we’d need to be present in different countries and took our first collection to New York where we signed with an agent. Consequently, we met Japanese buyers and even today Japan is our biggest market, our DNAs somehow match, we understand each other. That was the beginning and later on, by getting new investments, we were able to open to new markets and slowly step into more countries.
“It’s a job that brings new situations every moment, every season.”
AC: Could you explain the structure of Aeron’s team and atelier?
Eszter: Aeron is based in the heart of Budapest, downtown in the 5th district, we are located all together in one building and I think our atelier is very special. I always like talking about it because we have a lot of qualified colleagues who work on craftsmanship, creating wonderful collections as a team each season. Everyone’s combined knowledge is needed to create the kind of garments we are aiming for. There are around 20 – 25 people and wholesale, we don’t have our own stores but we work with agents during market weeks.
Another special thing about Aeron is that we produce everything in Hungary and we want to keep this going. We try to source our raw materials as close to our home country as possible, enabling us to closely monitor the production process and be as sustainable as we can be. We are also introducing more recycled fabrics every season, it cannot happen overnight but we are very much trying to go even further down this path.
AC: Could you tell us about the history of garment production in Hungary, has it always been an important part of the country’s economy?
Eszter: Textile production was late to arrive in Hungary but now there are a lot of different manufacturers and we have great factories for knitwear, leather and other garments. More and more brands are coming to produce fashion here, making it even better for Aeron to stay local.
“Everyone’s combined knowledge is needed to create the kind of garments we are aiming for.”
AC: You spoke about including more sustainable and recycled fabrics in Aeron’s collections, many brands see this as a daunting challenge and worry about quality or variety. How do you go about researching new materials?
Eszter: We have a colleague who is helping us with this side of the business, she studies and works in sustainability and knows a lot about this topic. So sustainability is connected to a specific person because it’s something that’s changing with new information every day.
You can’t be 100% sustainable but you have a choice and you can decide what you pick. For example, we don’t fly fabric in by plane because I’d rather wait longer and bring it in by car, we bring fabrics from Italy, not Taiwan. The Italian market loves polyester but we know that polyester is bad for the planet so we’re using recycled polyester. Aeron works with leather, but we pick leather which is a side product of the meat industry and use metal-free dying technology. We also pick recycled garment labels.
Today, if you go to a textile company in Paris, or Premiere Vision, and tell them you’re interested in sustainable fabrics you can pick from a wide variety of materials – it’s out there already but the choice is up to the designer. I know it’s sometimes difficult because the fabric can be more expensive or have a different touch, but we have to keep in mind that this choice is sustainable or recycled. Sustainability is very important for Aeron, especially with everything happening around us now, I think there’s no other way to go.
“Slowing down is important because what’s going on around us is crazy.”
AC: It’s interesting to hear what a difference one person can make to guiding your sustainability goals.
Eszter: Yes, you need the help. For example, I was always using leather and then we brought in vegan leather which, as you know is polyester, we thought this would be more sustainable but in a way, it’s not. So, we’re going back to using real leather which has a better carbon footprint than vegan leather – if it’s tanned in a non-metallic way. I think every company needs a person who is responsible for sustainability, even if it’s part-time or a consultant, you need new information and specific directions.
AC: What are your team’s sentiments on this topic? Do you have many conversations about the future of fashion in the atelier?
Eszter: Slowing down is important because what’s going on around us is crazy, it’s one of the most crucial points and the only way that we can go on. That was always a part of our brand philosophy and Aeron’s DNA is based on the idea of creating craftsmanship: durable clothes that can be worn for a lifetime. We don’t create garments for one season, we combine art, technology and quality fabrics to serve for as long as possible.
I don’t know what the future will bring or how this slowdown will affect Aeron. Maybe there will be fewer seasons or, if we’ll still have 4 collections a year, they may become smaller. There will probably be less travelling and we will concentrate more on our inner thoughts to create an artful package for our customers. We’d like to share more stories about Aeron and our community with our customers – not only through clothes but also through content that we find interesting like books, art and different ideas in our minds.
AC: Thank you Eszter. We look forward to finding out more about the creative world of Aeron.