Matchesfashion


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 Matchesfashion.com 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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Cross-Country Style

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Sofia Sanchez de Betak on Life in a Suitcase and Her “Chufy” Empire

For Sofia Sanchez de Betak, there’s nothing better than a sweet escape to an off-the-radar destination in far-flung locales around the globe. Now, the sartorial darling and
fashion consultant has turned her love for all things travel into a budding “Chufy” empire, comprised of a book and clothing and accessory line inspired by her journeys.

What sparked your desire to write your new book, Travels With Chufy?
There’s so much information [on travel] out there nowadays—blogs, websites—but it’s hard to get the right recommendations and to know who to trust. Where to start? Where to go? Whose advice is worth following? My book puts together all these pieces, covering what I’ve been discovering for many years and capturing my love for traveling.

Where did “Chufy” come from?
It’s my nickname! There were four Sofias in my class at school, so we all needed a different name to identify one another.

How did you catch the traveling bug?
Both of my parents are in tourism. My mom has a travel agency—she’s always taken us around the world on every holiday. She would fight with the headmistress of my school, because I would learn much more on a trip to Egypt than a week in school. I can’t remember half of what I learned in school, but I remember every detail of our trips.

Where’s the most far-off place you’ve been to?
Antarctica. That was a hard one to get to, but wow…one of the most incredible places I’ve ever seen.

What are your favorite hotels around the world?
Instead of staying at five-star hotels, I like staying at places that are atypical, especially private homes. That way, you get to know someone local, and they take care of you in a different way. Hotels don’t interest me that much. I love Hazz, a private house in Istanbul. It has luxurious bedrooms that are set up like a hotel, but you feel like a local, because the owner takes you around to her favorite bazaars, and it’s in an area with great antiques and vintage, which I love. You don’t have a ton of people servicing you, but it’s amazing. This place completely changed my perception of Istanbul. There’s also a great beach resort in Kenya called Kiwayu. It’s basically in the middle of nowhere. You have to spend an hour and a half on a boat to get there. There’s an amazing cabana with no windows or glass or doors. It has the most incredible beach and the freshest fish—it feels like you have the island to yourself. You can even surf in the sand and snorkel and scuba dive and hunt for oysters!

How do you deal with flight delays?
I’m not the nicest human being at airports. [Laughs] I sometimes lose my temper. But sometimes, the airlines do, too! I always bring my iPad, watch movies, and catch up on my reading with the Audible app. I’ll walk around the airport listening to my books.

Is your husband [fashion show producer Alexandre de Betak] a good travel partner?
He’s the best. At the beginning, when we started dating, he would go to the same place every summer and I’d be like, “No, life is too short. We should go somewhere new and exotic!” It took me a while to convince him to start going to new places, but he soon did it, and now, we can’t imagine a holiday without an exotic destination. We still go to Majorca, but we try to go to other exciting places, like Kenya and Iceland, too.

You had an epic wedding in your native Argentina.
Yes, our wedding was in the north of Patagonia where I’d go on holiday when I was little. It was fabulous. I still haven’t edited one album or video, though!

Do you stay digitally connected when you’re traveling?
I try to go to places that don’t have Internet access or cell phone reception. When we go to Patagonia, there are no phones or TVs. You have to drive 20 minutes to get any sort of reception, and I love it! Compared to everyone in my family, I’m the least addicted to technology.

What’s your recommendation for someone who wants a long weekend away from NYC?
Harbour Island in the Bahamas. I love the Ocean View Club. It’s easy and close and beautiful. It feels homey!

Where are you off to this summer?
We haven’t decided yet. Definitely Majorca, but I still haven’t decided about our additional trip. I’m looking at some Northern countries that I’ve never been to. I found Sparrow Island on the map…maybe we’ll go there!

This summer also marks the launch of your own fashion collection, Chufy.
It was inspired by the countryside in Argentina, but the clothes can be worn anywhere. I brought some of the pieces on my trip to Kenya last year, and everyone was asking me about it. You’ll find ponchos, boots, shirtdresses, skirts, jewelry…a bit of everything, all of which you can combine in different destinations.

What we can expect for future collections?
Every collection will be based off of one of my trips. The next ones will be Japan and Kenya. The collections don’t necessarily align with trends, but rather with the places that inspire me. I think it’s beautiful to wear something that reminds you of a place.

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A First Look at Sofía Sanchez de Betak’s South American–Inspired New Clothing Line

Sofía Sanchez de Betak lives out of her suitcase. The art director, fashion consultant, and designer has made a career out of exploring various corners of the world and finding inspiration in the most unexpected locales. For her latest venture, she journeyed back to a place she knows well and loves deeply—her native Argentina. On June 1, De Betak will launch Chufy, a clothing line inspired by her travels around the world and for the first iteration, South America in particular. The collection includes around 25 pieces of ready-to-wear and accessories priced between $495 and $2,890, and will be sold exclusively at Bergdorf Goodman in New York, Colette in Paris, The Webster in Miami and Houston, and on MatchesFashion.com.

De Betak went straight to the source for Chufy, hiring local Argentine artisans to make all of the clothes. She worked with the decades-old Aux Charpentiers atelier in Buenos Aires on linen gaucho pants, a young up-and-coming tailor called Juan Hernandez Daels on the traditional silhouettes, artist Mercedes Güiraldes on the hand-embroidery, and Giribet on the riding boots, among others. “I collaborated with young and contemporary designers as well as with the traditional gaucho clothes-makers,” De Betak explains. “I wanted to create a balance between them and I think it’s very important to preserve the knowledge of the artisans because it’s fading away in every culture.”

In the very near future, De Betak plans to create collections inspired by other destinations such as Japan and Kenya. “Every place has a different aesthetic,” she says. “Every place has a different influence and an identity that I would love to highlight through Chufy. I am always researching for my next adventure.”

Above, a first look at Chufy and the Argentinean people and places that inspired the debut collection.

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