Women’s History Month might have ended, but why should we stop shining a well-deserved spotlight on those who never cease to amaze and inspire us? Next up in our series is Sofia Sanchez de Betak, global influencer, tastemaker, and founder of Chufy. The ready to wear line began in 2017, with the intent of bringing pieces inspired by de Betak’s travels to an audience of impassioned, conscious shoppers. Each season, the team decide on a new destination and culture as a jumping off point; collaborating with local artisans to bring fashionable yet timeless pieces to life. We love it, as do the likes of Alicia Keys, Molly Sims, Karolina Kurkova, Olivia Palermo, and Alessandra Ambrosio. Here’s everything you need to know about the heart and soul behind the brand!
What’s your earliest memory involving fashion? Did you think you’d pursue it as a career?
I come from a family of women—lots of strong, determined, professional, and stylish women—so fashion wasn’t really a topic, but an unconscious and very present factor. In my case, I was never really the fashionable or stylish one in the family. I was always more the geeky, eccentric type! I always felt attracted to design, materials, and ideas, and if that came in the form of clothes, then I loved it as much. I studied graphic design, and somehow through art direction jobs I ended up working in fashion. My first job in NYC was for luxury advertising agency Lloyd and Co., working for fashion and beauty brands, doing all of their visuals, and collaborating with iconic photographers. I had the chance to work with Peter Lindbergh, Craig McDean, and Mario Sorrenti: it was quite a trip!
Tell us about your upbringing in Argentina, how has your heritage shaped you as a person working in the international fashion industry?
I grew up in Buenos Aires, and throughout my childhood I saw the city shift from a very local quiet one, to one of countless cultures and travelers. It was quite fascinating to see the whole country become a destination for so many foreigners. Both of my parents work in tourism, so I was always surrounded by people from all over the world. I loved it. I would spend a lot of time in the countryside, always vacationing around the vast country; lots of nature and simple pleasures!
You’ve worked with some of the biggest brands in the world—what are you most proud of?
I’m proud of giving work to others and helping them achieve their dreams. And on a personal level, I think realizing it’s all about the path, and not the destination.
You launched Chufy in 2017. What was the major reason behind it?
Every time I would be in an exotic destination, I would collect all these treasures, souvenirs, and crafts, and then they would accompany me in my new home or in my wardrobe. I loved that feeling of light nostalgia that memories can bring, feeling like you are on holidays while you are back in your city life. Many times, I would get things that were not the easiest to wear, or the softest fabrics, or the fit didn’t suit me—so I wanted to create those item that can go with you anywhere, remind you of a special voyage, yet be comfortable and stylish enough for the everyday life.
How do you stay true to those brand values?
By following my gut and not letting myself get influenced by trends or numbers. I know what I want it to feel like, so no compromises.
You’re an avid traveler, and we imagine your own closet must be a treasure trove. What pieces are among your forever favorites?
It is! Many things don’t even make sense, or are unwearable! Yet they hold so many memories and craft. I think my favorite things are a pair of Greek leather sandals I once bought on a port in Simi, some Masai necklaces that I got in Kenya, and some majestic hand-painted dresses I got during my travels to magical India.
What’s the premise of Chufy, what do people need to know about the brand mission and ethos?
We want to create quality clothes and respectfully-crafted pieces that will become souvenirs for life.
What goes into the planning of each season?
A lot of team work! We normally start from images collected from a trip, books, and artists. Then we work on the prints, based on different pallets and imagery that we select. Then we design the styles according to the inspiration of the collection.
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What’s the most important lesson that running your own brand has taught you?
Find the right partners and a good team!
Sustainability is front and center. What are the points that you’re most proud of?
As a company, brand, and individuals, we always strive to reduce our environmental footprint. As a fashion label, fabric selection is a key factor for us; 80% of our fabrics come from organic fibers such as viscose, cotton, and silk. A small percentage of our fabrics have synthetic fibers and this is due to the textile industry being in its developmental stages. However the small percentage of synthetic fibers in our garments will only be utilized until we can achieve high quality and resistant fabrics to fulfill our needs. Synthetic fabrics generate polluting particles during their production process, and when garments end up in landfills, they can take years to disintegrate. After several tests we decided to include organic fabrics with Fairtrade and GOTS certifications in the Ancient Burma Collection. Furthermore, a key point for us is to produce the fabrics in the same geographical location where we produced the garments. This process reduces the distance of the fabric transporting to the factory and also empowers the local industrial culture and workers.
Tell us what goes into the creation of each Chufy piece?
Every print is created from scratch, so lots of hand-painting and drafting!
Did 2020 change or strengthen your brand values in any way?
I think it strengthened it. Together with my team, we put together a fundraising auction that really helped us bond and strive in such tough times. We worked really hard, and it made us really happy to know we were going to be able to help others in such difficult times. As a brand, we realized people really want to dream and really need to be able to travel, even if from home or even if it’s just by wearing something that inspires them.
What does 2021 hold for Chufy?
We have an amazing collaboration coming up! We did a super cool capsule with graffiti artist Andre Saraiva, inspired by a trip we did to the Aeolian Islands. It will launch this July at exclusive boutiques.
What’s next on the agenda for you?
Hopefully I’ll spend more time in nature, explore my powers, and help others with them.