Ágnes Mihály, the teacher of the Fashion sector knowledge/Multinational companies course at our department is constantly on the move: she has recently opened her own showroom in Ibiza, where among others, creations of famous Hungarian designers are also available to those tourist, who are open to the Hungarian fashion. Her advertisement agency is continuously involved in fashion campaigns and brand building of various multinational companies. And besides all this, she shares the knowledge she gathered throughout her career with the students of the Fashion and Luxury Brand Management department.
Divatmenedzsment.com: What brought you to this path? When did you decide that it is the fashion industry that is of most interest to you?
Ágnes Mihály: My very first contact with the fashion industry was through my make-up artist career. Starting on this path I organized the fashion stage at Sziget Festival with my friend Mari Tóth, where I functioned as senior make-up artist. I have also worked for Tamás Király for years, while I was learning the ins and outs of the advertising industry at McCann Erickson. And besides, I spent my evenings performing as a contemporary dancer on the stage of the National Dance Theatre. These years have been influential for me, and then slowly only the important things stayed and everything was clean, but the dancing and make-up remained my passions.
As for what brought me to this path, I should perhaps highlight the first “Great Britmania” event I organized while working for the agency Republic of Art. Under this, I provided an opportunity for the then freshly graduated USE, Je Suis Belle and Nanushka brands to set up their first fashion show and Tamás Dobos and Márk Lakatos to have their very first exhibitions. These relationships and successes have played a major role in starting me on this rough road.
Later, this road has led us all to the strategic planning of Luxury Budapest and Gombold újra brands, where we have also worked on organizing sponsorship cooperation. When we worked together with the Hungarian National Opera, my passion for fashion, advertising and dance have finally come together. I took part in the strategic planning of Katti Zoob’s Attitud brand and in starting numerous then smaller Hungarian fashion brands, which have since become determinative players in the domestic fashion life.
How did you come to the decision to try your luck in Ibiza? What do you think one needs to be able to cope abroad in this industry?
5 years ago, at some point I felt that the fashion and advertising industry have become too small in Hungary. I felt that whatever one could achieve or realize on this market, I have achieved and realized. I needed fresh impetus and stability.
In order for one to be able to cope abroad, one must speak foreign languages, must have experience, knowledge and a high degree of openness, adaptability, acceptance, lots of learning, networking, and above all, perseverance, belief in one’s self and a little bit of ability to fight. After all, you must stand up for yourself, hold onto achieving your goals and most of all, never give up your dreams.
How do you see the situation of Hungarian fashion here at home, and abroad?
Hungarian fashion has changed a lot since I moved abroad. Market competition has intensified, as lots of new designers and brands have been born. The points required for the fundamental functioning of the industry finally seem to stabilize, which is a good sign. Unfortunately, money is still a major factor, as many talented designers face financial problems when trying to cover the costs of creating the new collections from season to season. For this reason, many of them are forced to try themselves in other areas in order to earn enough money, which then they use for creating their collections. And this is a hard way.
I am however an idealist person and I believe that slowly, but surely, the time will come, when I will be again able to utilize my knowledge, experience and creativity at home, and I can again work on building Hungarian fashion brands or formulate their communication and marketing on an international level.
What do you like the most in your profession?
My favourite is branding, and within this, I enjoy coming up with the creative idea and the strategy the most. Organizing and directing an event, fashion show or show is always a fantastic challenge and has always been my passion, as the stage has been part of my life since my early childhood. Thanks to my father, I have grown up in a theater and I cannot imagine my life without it. I love film making too, and commercials or fashion films are also close to me – when making such, I always aim to formulate value-driven visual and verbal messages. What I also like very much is when I get to work together with my friends, as these occasions are always special. I enjoy working in a team, create something and progress together.
Could you please tell us about your course? What will your classes be about?
I aim to have a sort of discussion in my classes – I would like to share my knowledge of efficient communication and fashion marketing through current and real-life examples. I hope that I can also share a special approach and way of thinking with the new generation, which will support them in managing, successful communication and branding of their own or others’ brands. I would like to point out the differences among the efforts of the various commercial, luxury or smaller fashion brands. I plan to have case studies as home works, which require a more practical approach from the students. We will discuss the differences between the international and the Hungarian markets too, and I will present such actual examples in these areas and their relations that I believe are definitive with regards to approach.
What is your favourite memory of your career so far?
I have lots of sweet memories, and I am seeking these, as these are what take me forward. One of the most recent ones is the Schwarzkopf show with Cult Hair & Bazaar held at the Bálna event centre. It is somehow different when you do not work for a definite client, but are realizing the dream of one of your best friends. Another sweet memory is, when we shot a Marie Claire commercial that was ordered by Mónika Szilágyi-Csüllög, the director of Fashion and Luxury Brand Department, or when we shot Bori Tóth’s image film with my friend, Tamás Dobos.
My sweetest thing and also biggest challenge in my life right now is that I managed to take Hungarian designers to an international luxury market, where fashion and music meet, within the framework of a concept store.
I love my job and I believe in the power of Hungarian fashion, as well as in the cooperation & collaboration.
What would you advise the future fashion and luxury brand managers? What are the major pitfalls, challenges they must look out for?
I advise learning as many languages as one possibly can and gaining work experience abroad. Even if for just half a year, but I believe it is very important to gain professional experience in countries that are influential in the fashion world, as what they learn can later shape the Hungarian fashion.
Besides this, I think it is absolutely essential to read up to date professional literature in relation to the branding of foreign brands. It is important to research and develop. I also advise to be passionately committed, as without this, nothing will go forward. The creative industry demands constant renewal and reformation, you must come up with fresh ideas all the time.
How and where do you see yourself in the near future?
I basically see myself commuting between Budapest and Ibiza with my future family. Although it would be great to be home and have a little team, establish a solid base, from where we could create big, instead of being on the move all the time. I am also planning to build the international Chic brand, so that Hungarian designers can produce more and more for the international market, and through this enter foreign markets too. As a creative consultant and brand strategist, I would like to give advice to Hungarian and international clients, primarily through fashion, music and luxury branding. And of course I would also like to direct a few more fashion shows, films and dance shows.
I also want to consciously slow down and create some free time for my hobbies: get back on the sailboat again, just like how my life used to be from my childhood, and keep up my ballet knowledge with daily practicing. I want to go on holiday again and be charged every year with creative energies.