It started with bathhouses. Both Charlotte Hundley and her partner William McCusker had spent time in Budapest’s 16th century bathhouses, before ever meeting each other. “We loved the architecture, meditative rituals, the social aspects, and also the fact that people took hours out of their day to sit, sweat and soak with others—which is awesome,” she tells CH. When the two plotted building their own, they became caught up in searching for textiles and clothing that would not only complement it aesthetically, but philosophically. Noting that the bathhouse is a physical space that encourages slowing down, they developed the line Rudas—named after one of Budapest’s most famous Turkish-style bathhouses.
Unlike gardening workwear, athleisure or even pajamas, the light linen robe jackets and silk button down shirts don’t serve a specific purpose except the pursuit of purposeless happiness. If sweatpants make you never want to get off the couch (and the art of leisure isn’t about passivity), Rudas, on the other hand, aims to make the wearer more conscious of time passing. “We started designing pieces for the idle hours, which didn’t fit in with what we were seeing in the loungewear category. And we weren’t a ready-to-wear brand because we weren’t following the fashion calendar with seasonal collections,” Hundley continues. “Idlewear was born out of a need to describe/categorize the garments we were making. We also like how idlewear is the antithesis of athleisure.”
Because both are still juggling full-time gigs while running Rudas (Hundley works in art book publishing, McCusker manages a healthcare start-up), the duo takes their leisure time seriously. They take their durable, comfortable fabrics even more seriously. All of the pieces are made locally in NYC, but the fabrics are sourced from around the world: the linens come from a Belgian company that’s been producing fine linens since the 1800s, woven fabric is from their home state of North Carolina, high-quality cottons are from Italy, Japanese trims (like the silk piping or the extremely subtle fringe on a sash belt) come from “a company that has the most beautiful ribbons and trims,” says Hundley. “The Dune Robe and Dune Jacket are in a heavyweight, pre-washed linen that gets soft and buttery with wear. We [also] discovered Cupro, an incredibly silky and breathable fabric, through a representative of a Japanese mill who makes a great heavier weight Cupro.” (Note that all of this results in higher prices; shorts are $155 and the cheapest top starts at $355). Hundley also expressed interest in making limited run pieces from very high-end deadstock and remaindered fabrics.
Our capitalism-driven minds can’t seem to handle the idea of not working, not preparing to work, not resting from work, not killing time before work, not commuting to work. But donning a Rudas robe jacket feels like a great way to warm up to calmness. Shop their products online.
Black and white images courtesy of Mikael Kennedy, all others courtesy of Rudas