Based in New York but grounded in Hungary, Fashion Forward is a new initiative set up by industry insiders Doris Domoszlai-Lantner and Sara Bernat. Creating a detailed travelogue focusing on 15 key Hungarian designers linked by sustainability, the pair is also behind a series of Zoom symposiums, the next taking place this Sunday, 28 February. We caught up with Doris and Sara just as it was being planned.

Spreading over several platforms – travelogues, Zoom symposiums, zines and exhibitions, among others – Fashion Forward brings together some of the best and most open minds in the business to deal with the most pressing issues in the global industry.

For their first travelogue, Fashion Forward founders Doris Domoszlai-Lantner and Sara Bernat focused on Budapest, and 15 leading designers linked by the common thread of sustainability. These include Alma Vetlényi, Borbala, Gabriella Veszprémi, Vanda Berecz and Zsigmond Dóra Menswear.

This Sunday, 28 February, Fashion Forward hosts one of its regular Zoom symposiums, this one entitled ‘Decolonizing Sustainable Fashion’. Taking part will be Indian photographer and sustainability expert Mukul Bhatia, Senegalese/Guinean cross-cultural consultant and entrepreneur Rabi Yansane, and Dusty LeGrande, an indigenous streetwear designer and activist from Canada, founder of Mobilize. For more details, see here.

On the eve of this global discussion, we spoke with Doris and Sara in New York:

We Love Budapest: You and Sara are experts in different fields – how did you meet, and how did this all come together?

Fashion Forward: We met about two years ago on Instagram. We both work in fashion, Doris in archives and the academia side, and Sara with branding and strategy. Finding each other’s online content interesting, we decided to grab a coffee. As we chatted, we stumbled upon ideas that we both wished to explore more, at the intersection of fashion, culture and innovation.

A little while afterwards, Sara came across a grant where both of our complementary skill sets would come in handy. As we worked our way through the application, we realised that the current discourse on fashion is rather limited, and kept coming up with ideas how to expand it. Out of this, Fashion Forward was born, a next-generation think tank focusing on providing accessible information and education through travelogues, symposiums, articles and more.

WLB: Apart from your own backgrounds, why did you choose Hungarian designers to start off your travelogue series?

FF: Information on large, established brands with substantial marketing and PR departments tend to circulate seamlessly and quickly. However, when it comes to small, independent brands – those who often push the envelope by taking creative chances – do not get the same attention. 

Sara works with the Hungarian Fashion and Design Agency (HFDA), mentoring emerging indie brands, and Doris has been researching the local market for a long time, so it was natural to start the series in Budapest. We are currently seeking partners to expand this series – we hope to have guides for many cities and countries around the world.

WLB: You feature 15 designers. Was there a longer selection and these were the 15 best, and were you conscious of making sure to include menswear, accessories, shoes, jewellery etc, as well as women’s fashion?

FF: Sustainability includes a broad range of issues from responsible sourcing through organic and vegan fabrics to ethical production, and more. We aimed to include brands that showcase a wide variety of sustainable efforts, and appeal to various consumer segments. 

Sustainable fashion is dynamic, purposeful and complex, and we wished to convey that creative versatility to a broader audience. 

WLB: What other kinds of activities and presentations do you envisage for Fashion Forward?

FF: A number of initiatives are in the works now. We were recently commissioned by a Hungarian magazine to write a piece on digital fashion. We are in the process of putting together the inaugural issue of our zine, bringing together essays and articles from academics, industry professionals and activists around a diverse range of themes. 

We are also proud of our Zoom symposium series featuring some of the biggest thought leaders in fashion – we’ve had speakers from Harvard, Facebook and more. Our next session will be on 28 February, focusing on sustainable fashion outside of the dominant Western framework. For more information on our events, please visit our events page.