Growing up with a travel agent mother and hotelier father, a sense of adventure is innate for Sofia Sanchez de Betak — jaunts worldwide were the norm from a young age for the Buenos Aires-born designer, art director, and fashion consultant. “Every time we had a little holiday, [my mom] would say, ‘Okay, let’s get on a plane, let’s go somewhere,’” Sanchez de Betak tells TZR over Zoom. “Many times, we’ve even shown up at airports, looked up at the screen, and picked a trip from there ... I’ve always been an explorer; that was my mom’s biggest influence on me. She would even fight with the headmistress at school, arguing that I would learn a lot more spending a week in Egypt than a week in school.”
This spontaneous way of living instilled more than genuine wanderlust in Sanchez de Betak, however. It ultimately led her to create her clothing line, which she named Chufy after a childhood nickname from her native Argentina. “We had four Sofias in my class ... I guess it was a trending name back then ... so, each one of us had a nickname, and at home, they had always called me ‘Chufy,’” Sanchez de Betak explains. And the name stuck. “When Instagram showed up, I just put ‘Chufy’ [as my handle] because that was my first thought, my most common nickname. Finally, people in New York or wherever I was started understanding that was my nickname back home. When I started the brand, it was kind of an obvious choice, so it wasn’t ‘Sofia’; it was a bit more detached from me as a person but still very personal and fun.”
But Chufy is more than a collection of travel-inspired wares that fit in on safari or a seaside holiday (though it certainly fits the bill in both cases). Instead, the line centers around Sanchez de Betak’s personal experiences from trips she takes around the globe, all while prioritizing sustainable practices, from localized production, to choosing organic materials, to cutting down on water waste during the design process. “I started doing it for myself,” Sanchez de Betak says of her line’s beginnings. “I would go on a trip and I would like certain details that they would do in Kenya or Japan, and [I’d want to recreate] them in a fabric that I was craving, like silk or cupro, that is easier for me to wear.” Her goal: to create something she can wear in the city that still made her feel like she was on vacation.
Keep reading for more from Sanchez de Betak on her upbringing, the intricacies of Chufy, and her latest inspiration, slowing down to re-explore places close to her heart.
On Travel & Fashion
“I always do most of my shopping on trips,” she exclaims. “I go to markets and find all these incredible prints or materials or very characteristic items of different parts of the world.” But, the designer explains that upon returning home, she would end up not wearing the pieces she was so eager to buy. So, she set out to fill the space in between — an item with the fit and materials that she was looking for but still reminded her of her travels. “When you travel ... it makes you kind of look like you’re part of the environment. Not a local, but you don’t look like a tourist. It blends in a bit more and makes pictures look cute, and the fabrics are light, you can put a lot of looks in a suitcase.”
On Building Sustainability Into The Brand
There’s a lot of talk about sustainability, but for a small brand, it can be easier to build sustainable practices naturally from the beginning. “We try to use as many organic fabrics as we can,” she says. “We never use anything plastic-based, no polyester, and we try not to [create fabric waste by carefully cutting patterns]. But when we do, [we make] face masks or sleeping masks or scrunchies to use all that leftover fabric.”
Sanchez de Betak adds that not only does she find design inspiration around the globe, but also finds it important to understand the ways in which clothes are produced can have an impact both locally and on a larger scale. “If you’re getting organic cotton but shipping it all around the world, you can use all the sustainability messages you want,” she says. “But at the end of the day, you’re just shipping things by plane, and it doesn’t make any sense. So if we’re producing in India, we only use materials made in India.” For now, pieces are made in India, Peru, and Spain, and the designer is in the process of developing sweaters in China — a future endeavor for the brand.
On Drawing Inspiration From Various Locales
“It’s a lot of responsibility,” Sanchez de Betak tells TZR of the many locations she represents through Chufy. But it’s not her goal to create exact copies of travel finds or to recreate cultural craftways inauthentically. Instead, she aims to express her personal experiences while respecting the significance of each culture. “Every time you go somewhere, everything alters, and you start becoming a new self in every step of your life,” she explains. “When you go on a trip and you get back, you feel like you’ve changed so much, but everything remains the same. The information that I gather throughout trips translates into a collection. It’s more of a personal experience for me, the development.”
On How Her Inspiration Has Evolved
Though still inspired by her own love of travel, Sanchez de Betak explains that her experience over the last two years has led her to slow down and travel less, meaning a shift in her design aspirations as well. “My inspiration is coming more from the little details of my surroundings or re-visiting or re-exploring places I already know, like Mallorca,” she explains. “I’ve been coming here for years [but am primarily based here now].”
Sanchez de Betak also cites Paris as a city she discovered in a new way. “During confinement, we were in Paris when they started letting us go out on the bike. I always was a bit afraid of bicycles, but once Paris was completely empty and there was not one car around, I said, ‘OK, I can do this,’ and I loved it.” She adds that biking allowed her to see the city in a completely different light from walking or in a car. “It’s quite amazing to explore things in a different way, whether it’s by means of transport or at a different time of the day, just exploring in new ways.”
On The Chufy Woman
When asked to describe the woman she envisions wearing Chufy, words like enthusiastic, extroverted, and fun come to mind. “I run into people on the streets sometimes in Paris wearing the collection, it’s a bit embarrassing but cute,” she explains. “Sometimes they recognize me, and they’re like, ‘Oh, I love what you do!’ You know, the type of woman that would come to you and talk to you and not be shy at all and share how well it makes them feel or how much fun they have wearing it. And it’s super cute, super inspiring.”
On Her Current Go-To Outfit Formula
In line with Sanchez de Betak’s current slow-pace approach to life, another point of travel inspiration sparks her outfit formula of the moment. “I always tend to [wear] souvenir T-shirts like this [green Jackson Hole tee],” she tells TZR. “I get them around the world from different destinations as my workout look or with vintage shorts.” For days when dressing up isn’t on the menu, a simple travel tee offers the perfect alternative.
Below, shop travel-inspired pieces from Sanchez de Betak’s Chufy.
We only include products that have been independently selected by TZR’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.