Karin and Camille represent the Swiss Fashion Association, an institution that supports Swiss designers and help them develop their own brand. Karin is the President of the association since 2018, she also created her own fashion brand WEER in 2014. Camille is in charge of the development of the association. She is the initiator and project manager of the "Swiss Digital Fashion Week" and is currently working on onboarding selected brands on LE NEW BLACK.
LE NEW BLACK: What brought you to where you are now and especially to support Swiss fashion brands development?
Karin: The Swiss Fashion Association was born out of a need actually. This is a personal story as well. A couple years ago I founded my own brand WEER and didn’t know where to go, where to get information about production, fabrics etc. There are some institutions that support Swiss designers. However, if you don’t know where to go or that they actually exist, you have difficulties to find the right contact person. So there was a lack of a place to go for designers, a lack of point of contact for questions that might results in a loss of entrepreneurship and creativity. I then founded the SFA together with my former advisor at that time, which missions are to empower Swiss Fashion, promote, support and enhance the visibility of Swiss fashion designers, and establish Swiss fashion as a cultural asset. It is very important for us to get local support, especially from retailers, buyers, institutions and customers as well. We really have lots of fashion talents in our country, very good fashion schools like HEAD in Geneva and very high potential.
LE NEW BLACK: What are the ambitions of the Swiss Fashion Association in terms of commercial development and communication for the brands? What are the actions supporting these ambitions?
"As a start for 2021, we will begin with the Swiss Digital Fashion Week in partnership with LE NEW BLACK. It is very important for us to offer a global, 360° support that covers all areas that exist for a successful brand development."
Camille: As the first association dedicated to the promotion and empowerment of Swiss fashion culture, our focus is the strategic development of our members. This is why business and "conversion" are our main goals. We also have created a special program called ‘Talents’ meant for designers and brands which are focusing on creation and international development. It aims to support, to promote and to empower them nationally as well as internationally as we are convinced that some designers we work with could achieve international recognition and success. Many of our designers produce in Switzerland with Swiss fabrics. This local production has a very highquality standard. In any case this is interesting for the high premium and luxury segment. In terms of actions, we set up a pool of services in collaboration with partners and fashion professionals in the fields of business development, start-up support, knowledge enhancement, marketing, communication and PR, collection planning and merchandising, sales, sustainability and legal advices. These services are offered in the form of conferences, workshops and individual consultations with the brands in order to help them to drive their businesses forward.
Karin: In terms of communication, we present and promote our ‘Talents’ on our website and on our social media channels. Externally, we are working with our partner PR Fact, a Swiss PR Agency. In terms of commercial development, we focus on BtoB and BtoC "Sales Events" to enhance the visibility of our members and give them the possibility to present their collections to the right audience. As a start for 2021, we will begin with the Swiss Digital Fashion Week in partnership with LE NEW BLACK. It is very important for us to offer a global, 360° support that covers all areas that exist for a successful brand development. This is also why our board is composed of fashion professionals of different fields.
LE NEW BLACK: According to your experience what major changes fashion brands are facing with the health crisis?
Camille: There are countless challenges to face right now! But regarding our members, which are all small labels, we think that uncertainty about the future, loss of revenue as well as problems in the supply chain are the main challenges. We have been able to identify that this leads to a stagnation in creativity, in brand development and in sales. On the other hand, we see this situation also as a chance, especially for small creative fashion brands. A chance to improve their credibility and product offer, to be courageous and to innovate, especially in the digital area as digital consumption will continue its growth. However, this crisis clearly shows that the fashion industry needs a change and an adjustment to the needs, the expectations and the values of the customer of the 21st. century. We are convinced that therefore, we need new talents, a new generation of ambitious designers who are able to reflect and to communicate the actual zeitgeist through their values, through their brands and through their products. This crisis is also a chance for them to stand out and to gain market shares.
LE NEW BLACK: You wanted Swiss fashion brands to be equiped with a BtoB fashion platform, can you tell us why and what are your expectations?
Camille: We wanted to offer our members an adequate solution to reach their goals in a situation where physical collection presentations are difficult to plan and to handle. This digital showroom is a great opportunity to enhance their visibility within the local and international fashion retail market and to showcase their collections wherever they want, at any time they want, to any buyer they are targeting, without short term cancellations risks because of further lockdowns or travel restrictions. Come what may, their collections will be presented and promoted thanks to digital solutions. This is also an opportunity to strengthen and expand their market positioning. Thanks to the support of LE NEW BLACK powering the Swiss Digital Fashion Week, our designers will be promoted within an international audience of buyers and retailers which we are very looking forward to!
"We are convinced that therefore, we need new talents, a new generation of ambitious designers who are able to reflect and to communicate the actual zeitgeist through their values, through their brands and through their products."
LE NEW BLACK: How do you see the future for young fashion brands? What are the opportunities you identify on a local, European or international market for them?
Camille: It is difficult to predict, we will see what happens next year. On a local level, our designers need to be more present within the Swiss retail landscape and to be presented to local customers. Therefore, we really need the support of Swiss buyers and retailers. The ‘local consumerism’ trend is also growing which is why it is very important for every actor of the Swiss fashion industry to support our local designers.
Karin: We really take it day by day as it is difficult to predict the future. We want to focus on our strengths, and of of them is that the Swizterland is know for it high quality standards, and has an old tradition in textiles, and is well known for its quality and innovative fabrics. Some of our designers actually use innovative, technical Swiss fabrics for their product development and I think this is something we really want to focus and show to the world! Another important thing to say is that lots of Swiss designers produce either in Switzerland or the the EU, which is very important for the luxury market. The Swiss designers really belong to this market!
Camille: We think there is still a lot to do but we have the chance to implement our actions in the Swiss market as well as internationally. Let's see what will happened. We really welcome anybody watching this interview to visit our showroom, come have a look at all our gifted designers and beautiful products.