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Zurich hosts its first ‘fashion days’

New features include a fashion show of up-and-coming designers courtesy of Basel designer Lela Scherrer

While other cities have fashion weeks, Zurich has been making do with a single night. That’s about to change as the city gears up for its first Fashion Days.

The four-day event has expanded to include a business forum, award presentations and seven blocks of fashion shows at the Puls 5 cultural centre.

“Switzerland is quite known for design – in particular textiles and architecture. But it’s not like Italy or France, where you’re born with fashion in your blood,” said Erhard Schwendimann, Bally Shoe Factories’ area director for southern and western Europe.

Swiss style

Established in 1851, Bally was one of the world’s first luxury brands.

“We were also one of the first to market internationally. Switzerland is very small, so we had to go abroad,” Schwendimann told He added that the local climate has an influence on fashion, noting that Bally sells sandals in Spain when Swiss people are thinking about boots.

While it doesn’t have a lot of internationally known labels, the nation does offer a huge selection of fashionable fare for shoppers.

“Switzerland has a huge market for the consumer. All the major brands are represented, which shows that Switzerland is an important market,” said Schwendimann, who will participate in Friday’s business forum – the topic of which is Switzerland as a textile and fashion location.

Calida Group CEO Felix Sulzberger agrees with his colleague from Bally.

“Swiss consumers are very fashion- and label-conscious, making them an interesting market for many brands,” Sulzberger told He will also speak at Friday’s forum.

In honour of the fashion days, Calida has produced a set of limited edition lingerie with black lace and purple ribbon. Calida bodywear will appear on the catwalk Friday night.

Bally is also hosting a special exhibition in cooperation with the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). The “Dream Factory” is a playful take on the company’s history of shoemaking. It will remain open to the public through Sunday at the Greutmann Bolzern Designstudio.

Image makeover

Celebrating its 55th birthday this year, the Charles Vögele Group has only been around half as long as Bally. While not generally considered the hippest place to shop, Vögele has been undergoing an image makeover that includes its chief sponsorship of the Zurich Fashion Days.

To inject some glamour into its Biaggini brand, Vögele has engaged actresses Penélope Cruz and Mónica Cruz.

“We’re extremely happy to have found in this duo the charisma, zest for life, philosophy and fashion sense that fits Charles Vögele perfectly,” said André Maeder, CEO of the Charles Vögele Group, when the collaboration was announced earlier this year.

The Cruz sisters have created a new line of clothing for Vögele, which they will present at Wednesday night’s opening show. Called Biaggini Violett, the focus is on high-quality party and cocktail clothing.

Vögele has 800 shops in nine European countries.


The Swiss Textiles Award, first given in 2000, is now part of the new fashion days package. On Thursday night it will be presented to a promising international designer after the six finalists show their latest collections on the runway.

What’s new this year is the fashion show featuring up-and-coming designers based in Switzerland. Five hot new labels gaining ground have been chosen to let the models strut their stuff on Thursday morning.

Redley Exantus, a New York designer who settled in Geneva some years ago to found the Exantus label, is among those headed for Zurich this week.

“I love showing in Zurich when I get the chance to because I find that it is the city to show in [if you are based in Switzerland]. Being a part of Zurich’s fashion days is very important to me – it validates my place as a Swiss fashion designer,” Exantus told

She noted that in her eyes, the Swiss textile industry was a key part of the Swiss fashion scene – which tends to “get absorbed by the surrounding fashion centres and influences that come out of Paris, Milan and anything north”.

A look back

The fashion days will also feature alumni from previous years: American Alexander Wang, winner of the 2009 Swiss Textiles Award, returns to Zurich on Thursday to showcase designs featuring Swiss materials that were part of last year’s prize.

On Friday morning, Tran Hin Phu, winner of the 2001 award, will be one of five established Swiss designers showing a collection. The Chinese-Vietnamese man, who grew up in Bern, now runs a successful women’s wear business in Zurich.

Then there’s Kaviar Gauche, the German bag and clothing label nominated for the Swiss Textiles Award a few years back.

The Berlin design duo has agreed to train the winner of this year’s Annabelle Award as an apprentice. Sponsored by Annabelle magazine, this award will go to a young Swiss designer on Friday night.

As Switzerland’s oldest industrial sector, the textile industry was already a high-ranking exporting country within Europe in the 18th century.

Today, the majority of Swiss production is still exported. In 2009, 74% of all textile exports went to the member countries of the EU. Nevertheless Asia has also gained increasing prominence as a sales market – with 12.6 per cent.

In the clothing industry, half of all Swiss exports in 2009 also went to the EU. In addition, the USA in particular is becoming an increasingly important sales market at 4.1 per cent.

Source: Swiss Textile Federation

The Charles Vögele Fashion Days Zurich run from November 3-6, 2010.

It is open to the general public and tickets for various events are available starting at SFr40 ($41).

Highlights include:

Charles Vögele Opening Night

Stars of Tomorrow
– Upcoming Swiss Designers
– Swiss Textiles Award

Swiss Fashion Night
– Established Swiss Designers
– Annabelle Award

Your Time to Shine
– Kids’ Fashion
– Gala International Closing Show

In October 2010, Akris designer Albert Kriemler was honoured for his contributions to fashion design at the Fashion Group International’s 27th Annual “Night of Stars” Gala. This year’s theme was “The Globalists” – outstanding talents in the fields of fashion, architecture, beauty, design and entertainment.

“It is a very special honor for me to receive my first international recognition here in New York – in the city where five continents meet and our first steps happened with Bergdorf Goodman 20 years ago,” said Kriemler after receiving the award.

Based in St Gallen, Akris has boutiques around the world, including New York, Boston and London.

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