At the end of the 19th century, the fashion scene in Europe was very much determined by Paris. They designed unique pieces that the best tailors and dressmakers aimed to replicate in their own countries all over Europe. This happened in the Austro-Hungarian Empire as well. However, there was one person who stood out from the crowds and invented something still crucial in the 21st century.
Júlia Fischer was born in 1866. Her interest in fashion emerged early on; she was just 14 when she decided to become a tailor. It is important to note that being a tailor in the second half of the 19th century was a good opportunity for those with some talent and a sense of business, as they had the chance that, with time, they will make a fortune.
She began her career at Áts and Co., the well-known Hungarian fashion store. During these times, she often visited the famous Gerbeaud confectionary to get inspired.
Due to her talent and passion, she was able to found her own business by 1880.
The first location of her store was in an area with a rather bad reputation.
However, high-end clients like the wives of Lajos Batthyány and Gyula Andrássy were willing to visit her here, too, which is a clear indication of her talent.
As Forbes.hu reports it, she started out with just two helpers but, by the 1920s, she had over 40 employees, and most of them were women. By the time she was ready to get married, she had a successful business running. She made sure her assets were insured and made her husband sign a sort of marriage agreement, something we would call a prenup today – a revolutionary decision from a woman of the early 20th century, someone who did not even have the right to vote!
Interestingly, in 1920, her daughter became the co-owner of her business. Together, they made numerous innovative decisions that angered the authorities of the time, but that revolutionised the Hungarian fashion scene, even influencing the whole of Europe.
They introduced good-quality ready-made clothes to Hungary, bringing the fashion of Paris closer to regular people while also making it cost less.
Selling off-the-rack clothes was a huge invention, and it is something that has influenced our shopping habits ever since.
They also sold the model patterns of some of their own creations, clothes with a unique Hungarian twist to them, causing an outrage, because the industry was solely based on copying Paris. Not to mention the fact that they raised the wages of their workers, creating a better work environment.
In 1923, this was said of the family’s designing house:
“It is one of the biggest, oldest and most elegant clothes stores that has a defining role in leading the Hungarian fashion scene.”
Fischer’s importance cannot be denied. It is thanks to her that Hungary was on the map when it came to fashion by the 1930s. In 1935, the French Femina magazine featured Hungary as a place to be visited for fashionistas, suggesting that Austrian aristocrats skip shopping in Vienna and visit Budapest instead.
Source: forbes.hu, bpromantikaja.blog.hu, fdk.hu