By Shae Koharski |
Nestled in an apartment complex on the Buda side, “LoveBug Vintage” is home to everything eclectic. Not your typical storefront, the awaiting customer must buzz the doorbell to be let in. It feels exclusive and once you’re in, a world of items awaits you, including Violetta Kertész.
Kertész is the proud owner of LoveBug Vintage. The store has been open for 8 years but lived online for many years. She first started as a vintage web shop but saw the opportunity for a store in an apartment complex – the same one she lived in for 30 years.
Walking into the store, it has no remnants of it previously being an apartment. Complete with two rooms and a loft that is filled with clothes, jewelry, bags and figurines, a new customer would forget they’re in a typical Budapest apartment. The store has transformed the space into an oasis of everything eccentric.
Kertész worked as a fashion stylist before opening her shop. While ‘vintage’ is in the store name, the store has a variety of merchandise to choose from. New shirts, jewelry and sunglasses line the store, but hidden gems like old figurines, records and pants are the main attractions of the store. Her best sellers are denim jackets and Levi’s jeans. She finds vintage items from flea markets and countryside vendors, and newer items from city warehouses.
The store is open Tuesday through Friday from 2-7 p.m. She utilizes her Monday’s for buying new products and takes the weekends off. Kertész now lives in the suburbs with her family and comes into the city about once a week. She hired another girl to come in and help run the store while she is away. Her typical customers are locals in high school and university, but she loves seeing the tourists visit the shop as well.
The nontraditional stylings have made the shop very popular. Many local Hungarian bloggers have interviewed Kertész, to showcase the uniqueness she has brought to the city. When you Google ‘vintage stores in Budapest’, LoveBug Vintage is usually in the top results, and rightfully so. The location, style and items inside give it the distinction LoveBug Vintage has earned.
The vintage trend is something Kertész is familiar with from a young age. She feels like vintage pieces can really elevate your outfit and help you to stand out.
“When I was 16, […] it wasn’t too trendy but I couldn’t find good clothes and I don’t want to wear similar like others. I think younger people still think this. You can find good clothes in H&M also and good price but everybody’s got the same. So that’s why few pieces can make your wardrobe much more interesting and unique. I think now, it‘s very fashionable to think zero waste and not to buy new clothes and that’s why it‘s also a big thing at the moment, that this stuff is sometimes so old […] and it‘s also very good condition and very good quality and unique pieces and better price” Kertész said.
The vintage craze in America and Hungary is something she is familiar with. Although separated by an ocean, the two countries are still growing in vintage fashion, but Hungary is starting to catch up.
“I was in America 15 years ago. It was very, very cool stores but people in Hungary now, are more open but they don’t wear full vintage. They wear mixed vintage stuff and new stuff because I think they are not too extreme. They are more basic maybe. So, in Hungary they mix vintage stuff with new stuff or basic stuff and I think in America, people are more free with what they want to wear. But it is closer and closer to each other.”
The Communist Regime ended in 1989 and although she was young, Kertész can roughly remember what it was like to live in Hungary during that time. Big stores that we know now weren’t around during that era, so people had to turn to making items yourself or even going to secondhand stores. But there were a few items that stood out in the country.
“In Hungary, there wasn’t too hard of communism. […] If you want to wear something unique, you have to sew it, so you have to make your own. There was no store. When I was younger, we didn’t have H&M. I was almost 18 when the big brands came in. So, we have to go to second hand shops or we have to ask grandmother.”
“For the people who lived there, it’s good memories – the fashion. So, it‘s good to see because we were young at the time. Older people, maybe not because they were older and the political thing is not too happy or not too funny but for my generation, it is good to see this was a shoe brand […] just in Hungary and everyone wears it and it still exists […] but everybody knows that brand.”
Within the past few years, vintage has made a huge splash in the fashion industry. Kertész credits that to celebrities.
“Larger amount of people are interested, I think, in the past few years because they saw its fashionable because big stars and celebrities are also wearing vintage. So before, they were people who say, ‘it’s used, we don’t want to wear it’. […] Secondhand is also good because I think it’s really good to use something more and more, if its good quality, it’s better than buying new stuff.”
Although the industry is starting to rely more and more on this type of style, there is a stigma around vintage and secondhand clothes.
“When I was younger, we didn’t have enough money for Levi’s jackets, and we bought secondhand […] and it was cheaper. Now people are searching for vintage designer stuff. In my shop, there is not designer stuff because in Hungary there is no money for that.”
Social media is constantly on the rise and many companies and businesses are taking advantage of that. LoveBug Vintage has over 26,000 followers on Instagram. Kertész relies on the social media platforms, especially because of the unique location of her shop.
“This store doesn’t exist if no social media because there is no window shopping. But people see it on Instagram or Facebook. First Facebook was most popular five or six years ago but now Instagram is more and more popular.”
For eight years, LoveBug Vintage has been a joy to Kertész. It’s been a great journey and something she likes to share with her customers.
“For me, its important to be personal. So on my Instagram, […] it’s not just the clothes so maybe that’s why it’s a little bit unique because if you come in, we don’t say you have to buy something. If you’re just hanging and maybe pictures, its okay. Money is important but not the most important thing. People can stay here for hours and talk and listen to music so it’s not a typical shop.”