Bergdorf Goodman

Sofía Sanchez de Betak Piles Travels Into Collection, Book

PARIS — Sofía Sanchez de Betak has been up since 4 a.m., following a 12-hour flight from Japan. She is bare-faced, her hair is damp and she is wearing a tent dress made from old bed sheets.

It’s her first day in her new temporary Paris digs — she and her husband, show producer Alexandre de Betak, are staying in his Paris office while their home is being renovated — and she is still finding her bearings. Despite all this, she looks effortlessly gorgeous — a walking affront to any Instagram filter.

An art director and graphic designer by training, the Buenos Aires-born influencer known as Chufy — with 123,000 followers on Instagram — is something of a professional globe-trotter. Her innate sense of style has led her to work with brands including Barneys, Chloé, Chanel, Hogan and Zara.

Now she has parlayed her passion into her own fashion line, also called Chufy, which she designs with local artists and artisans from around the world. The first collection is comprised of around 25 clothing and accessory designs, in addition to 15 pieces of jewelry, with prices ranging from $495 for a shirt to $2,890 for riding boots.

The first collection is launching today with an event at Bergdorf Goodman in New York, where she will also be signing copies of her new book, “Travels With Chufy,” published by Assouline. The line will also be carried by Colette in Paris, The Webster in Miami and Houston, and in London and online globally.

Over a glass of coconut water, Sanchez de Betak talked about going geisha, her love of King Charles Spaniels and how to survive without Internet.

WWD: When you are constantly on the move, is it important to maintain a routine, or do you prefer to let the day surprise you?

Sofía Sanchez de Betak: When I’m in the city, I try to stick to my routine: I work out in the morning, I cook my breakfast, I do my work, I have my meetings, I see my husband, I go for dinner, we cook. But when we’re traveling, it’s as we go. I never work out, I never do anything by the book. I like getting lost. Even if I plan and do my homework, at the end, the best part of traveling, I think, is what comes out spontaneously.

WWD: In terms of social media, what is the first thing you check in the morning?

S.S.d.B.: Instagram is the only one I really use, though I’m not as much a consumer of social media as most of the people around me think.

I do it, I work with it and I like it, at maybe a certain time of the day, but once the day starts, that’s it. I’m working, I’m doing, I’m exploring, my eyes are open — I’m not on my phone, only when I have a dead moment. So that’s pretty liberating. I’m not addicted at all to social media.

WWD: So does your team post for you when you are offline?

S.S.d.B.: No, I keep it very personal — all myself, and no planning and no strategy. Maybe it would do much better if I did, but I think it would lose the spark, the special side of it, if I really used it as a strategic tool. I think also that’s what people like about my Instagram. That’s the feedback I get from the comments: how spontaneous and how lively it is.

WWD: In your book, “Travels With Chufy,” a lot of the pictures are yours. When did you start photography?

S.S.d.B.: I wouldn’t consider myself a photographer. It’s more like part of the travel experience. I’ve always been a gadget person — like I would always have a little camera with me when I was little. The oldest place I visited is 15 years ago, and I had a pretty nice camera back then, so thank god the pictures are decent, and there’s a lot of pictures from my husband or from friends. We kind of dug around for the book.

WWD: So this is a bit like an intimate photo album of the places you’ve visited?

S.S.d.B.: I actually see it more as a curation of very special places that are different, that are local, that are run by the owners and family-run, that have a history, so that when you stay there, you feel that you connect with the place you’re at.

That’s what I loved about all these places: that they go deeper than any other hotel. When I go to a five-star hotel, I feel very disconnected to where I am. Like getting English toiletries in Okinawa — I’m like, “I’m in Japan. Give me a Japanese brand!”

WWD: What kind of content gets the most response online?

S.S.d.B.: It’s me doing an activity, or wearing something special. When I post certain landscapes or objects or things like that, they don’t get as much interest.

I think it’s a shame. I keep posting whatever I feel like, but yes, the images that are more lively and with a person in front are more successful. In general, I think people always go for that, not just my followers. I follow places or animals or restaurants, and that interests me, but that doesn’t interest everyone.

WWD: What kinds of places and animals do you follow?

S.S.d.B.: I follow King Charles Spaniel dogs, because my mom has two in Argentina and I miss them a lot. My mom is not a very big Instagrammer, so I just follow other dogs that I find cute, and then I follow a lot of people that just shoot beautiful places.

It always gives me ideas of where I’m going to go next.

WWD: Your personal style is such an important part of your Instagram presence. How do you pick what you’re going to wear?

S.S.d.B.: Traveling is where I get most of my inspiration. Because I travel to all sorts of places, my style is very varied. I can go from looking like a geisha to looking like a hippie in the Mediterranean, or whatever. I go from one extreme to the other.

I don’t like looking like an American tourist in the middle of the bush. I like blending in and making the moment feel homogenous.

WWD: Where did you get the dress you are wearing today?

S.S.d.B.: This is my first collection, actually. I travel with them all the time. It’s hand-painted dresses [by Spanish artist Letita Aragon] made with bed sheets, so I wear these for traveling and I feel like I’m in my bed when I’m on the plane.

WWD: How did you work on your first Chufy collection?

S.S.d.B.: The Majorcan one [last year] was kind of an experiment. I hadn’t really launched my brand yet, so this was one collaboration with an artist that I really like.

It sold out and we had to do a lot more, so that gave me a bit of a push for the second collection, which is actually the main launch of the brand. It’s an Argentinian collection inspired by the countryside and the gauchos, who are the Argentinian cowboys.

They wear this very particular type of pants and each part of the country has their own style. Then I also worked with artisans that hand-weave ponchos, and instead of making it a regular poncho, I made them into vests.

Then I did ruanas, which are like big ponchos, but open in the front so you can wear them as scarves, and I had them hand embroidered by an artist. I collaborated with different people from around the country.

WWD: Was it important for you to make the first statement about your identity and where you come from?

S.S.d.B.: Yes, I thought it was a nice break for the brand to say, “OK, this is Argentina.”

Next season, it’s Japanese, and maybe in the future, within Japan, I can make 10 collections. One can be kimonos, another can be two-piece kimonos — it can go anywhere. The following one is Kenya, so it’s quite exciting.

WWD: What percentage of your online content is sponsored or paid?

S.S.d.B.: Barely any. I mean, mostly it’s mine. I don’t think I’ve ever done sponsored work. I do have relationships with brands and friends and designers that if I like what they do, I wear it and I promote it if I can and if I feel comfortable with it.

If we do sponsorship, we do a video or a campaign or something, and then I promote it and put it on my Instagram.

WWD: So you don’t try to monetize your site that way?

S.S.d.B.: I find it a bit lame and flat, and also I don’t find it longlasting if you just start selling posts like that. What I do find super interesting is telling a brand, “OK, you want to do something with me? I don’t want to just wear your dress and post it. I think it doesn’t represent me. I’m not a model, I’m not a blogger. If you want, let’s do something interesting, let’s collaborate.” I am a creative, so Roger Vivier, that I did a campaign for, we did a collaboration on a handbag that was called the Tango bag. And after that, I proposed, let’s do an event, let’s do a tango class for 60 people. All the editors were taking classes. Each one had their own instructor. It was so much fun and people loved it.

It was my idea that I really had to fight for, because it wasn’t like the brand said, “Oh great, let’s have editors dance tango!” They were a bit freaked out at the beginning.

My husband helped me produce the event and it was a complete success, and I couldn’t stop posting images, but not because I was being paid.

WWD: So it has to come from an authentic place for you.

S.S.d.B.: Hopefully, yes. In 95 percent of cases, it comes from an authentic place. If sometimes I give in and I do a project, maybe there is a middle point, but mostly it needs to be authentic and I need to love the project that I’m promoting and the brand and the product.

WWD: What is the most challenging thing about creating content, because I imagine that people expect you to be sharing all the time? Don’t you sometimes want to go off the grid?

S.S.d.B.: Totally. Despite sharing so much, I think no one really knows about my life and my everyday, because I share what I choose to share. I share the travels, I share outdoor experiences.

The real things that really happen in my life, they’re private. There’s a lot of people that post their breakfast, their moments with their husband. We keep ourselves to ourselves. When I go on holiday, if we go to a place where there’s reception, I leave [my phone] in the room, I barely bring it out.

We go to Patagonia every year for Christmas and there’s nothing, there’s not even a landline, nothing to communicate with the world. You need to drive 20 minutes to be able to make a call or download an e-mail, and I realize I’m the least addicted person in the entire house. Everyone else is freaking out. My hippie stepbrother is running to the road twice a day to download his emails.

I would like to think I’m quite reserved with all that. If I go to a dinner party, the phone stays in the coat.

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Sofia Sanchez de Betak Wants You To Wear Gaucho Pants And Poncho Vests This Summer

Growing up in Buenos Aires, art director and fashionista Sofia Sanchez de Betak would take weekend trips to the Argentinian countryside to go fly fishing and horseback riding by the river with her family. It's no surprise then that she chose Patagonia, the idyllic mountainous region at the southern end of South America as her inspiration and look book location for her debut ready-to-wear line, Chufy, named after her Instagram handle. “It’s pure paradise, it's a place really close to my heart,” explains the 32-year-old designer, who’s collection launches tomorrow at Bergdorf Goodman. The collection features classic Argentinian styles she embellished with her unique touch, such as linen gaucho pants, wool ponchos, embroidered blouses, and leather accessories. As an ode to her explorative spirit, the shop will exhibit photos from de Betak’s personal travels and adventures, highlighting the world’s most mesmerizing destinations. Here, de Betak breaks down the new collection, as well as some of her fabulous vacations that inspired it.

Was there a particular item that inspired the collection?

My old and worn-in bombachas de campo (gaucho pants) my grandmother gave me years ago. I went on a riding safari to Kenya last year and everyone in the group wanted them!

What is the most versatile item from the collection, something you can wear anywhere?

The poncho vest, I take it everywhere, as it is warm and at the same time very fresh and easy to layer.

Favorite part about Patagonia?

The lakes district, I've been going there for ages and love its virgin beauty.

What kind of woman do you envision wearing the collection?

A very multifaceted woman, an adventurer with a wild urge for exploring, learning and having fun!

How has Argentina influenced your personal style?

It has a lot! It is the place where I grew up, so spending a lot of time in the Argentinian countryside has made me very sensitive to nature. I love riding horses, hiking, and fishing, and despite living in New York now, I always feel I look like I’m in the countryside.

How is the collection inspired by Patagonia?

It relates to different aspects of Argentina, it has some tango inspiration, some polo, some gaucho... I’ve brought in the Argentinian flag and the crest, as well as local animals such as the puma, the Hornero bird, and the condor.

What is your dream Argentinian vacation you are dying to do?

Argentina is so big and varied I still have a lot to explore! I would like to return to the north as I haven't been there in a while, Jujuy, Salta, Formosa... these provinces are very different to the rest of the country, and artisans have very strong aesthetics there.

What trip are you currently lusting over?

I would love to do the Trans-Siberian train, visit India or cruise the Amazonas in Peru.

What was your most extravagant vacation?

I am not the lavish type I have to say. I enjoy luxury, but not when it comes to exploring a new country; sometimes luxury pulls you away from the real world and you miss the interaction with the local customs, which is a shame when you've made it so far. To me a lush lavish holiday is that one where you are surrounded by only nature, no trace of civilization, good homemade food, a cozy fireplace, and no phone reception. I have had this kind of holiday in Patagonia, Turkey, Kenya and Japan.

What has been your most dreamy vacation destination Instagram photo?

Riding in the Masai Mara.

What is your post- plane hydration technique?

Lots of water, Clinique Moisture Surge, and Caudalie spray.

What is your standard travel outfit?

I always travel in my Mallorcan collection maxi dresses, and then slip on a pajama pant underneath

What are 3 of your main travel essentials?

My camera, sunglasses, and comfortable shoes.

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In anticipation of Bergdorf Goodman’s launch of the Argentinian Collection by Chufy this week, we sat down with designer Sofia Sanchez de Betak to talk about her travels and how they inspire her. Focusing on the iconic style of her home country, Argentina, the Chufy collection was designed in collaboration with local artists and produced entirely in Argentina.

Bergdorf Goodman: Your background is in the editorial world as an art director and fashion consultant. What made you want to create your own collection?
Sofia Sanchez de Betak: I have been making my own clothes for a long time, mostly inspired in travels, or made with fabrics and details I would find abroad. With time, these became my staple pieces, getting countless compliments from friends and strangers. It was flattering to see people liked what I had put together, when I thought I would be the only one that would like it. So when BG approached me to start working together, it was an opportunity I had to embrace!

BG: Where do you plan to travel to next and how do you think your next collection will reflect this trip?

Sofia: My next collection is inspired in Japan, where I’ve been going a lot in the past year. After that, I have no clue! I’m split between the Trans Siberian Railway and Peru! But knowing myself, it could even be Micronesia at the last minute!

BG: How do you see the BG woman wearing Chufy this summer?

Sofia: I imagine her traveling with a very lively spirit, embracing her next adventure as if it were her first and even last! She would wear the collection by the fireplace in Patagonia’s winter, on a safari in Kenya, or walking stylishly the streets of Stockholm and NYC.

BG: Tell us about the design process when you are working with local artisans from around the world.

Sofia: Each country is different, it’s not the same to work with Maasai women in Kenya or Wichi weavers in the north of Argentina. Many times we start with an item they already master, and then we reinterpret it into a certain idea I have, either just enhancing what it already is, or changing it completely.

BG: What is your most prized possession? Was it something you purchased while traveling? Is it a family heirloom? Tell us the story behind it.

Sofia: My engagement ring that my husband got at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul years after I had spotted it and fallen in love with it.

Starting Thursday, June 1, visit the Chufy pop-up shop on 3 and shop the Argentina-inspired collection of clothing, shoes and accessories by Sofia Sanchez de Betak.

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About Last Night: Celebrating the Launch of Chufy

Last night we celebrated the launch of Chufy, a collection by street style star and Argentinian It girl, Sofia Sanchez de Betak, at her new pop up shop on 3. Guests including Linda Fargo, Martine Assouline, and Constance Jablonski were in attendance as we welcomed the collection to the BG family with a champagne toast.

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Cross-Country Style

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