Zimmermann brings Australian flair to Paris Fashion Week – WWD

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PARIS Zimmermann is ready to take his love affair with Paris to the next level.

The Australian brand, known for its resort and swimwear collections, is due to make its debut at Paris Fashion Week with a show Monday at the Petit Palais, and is setting up a secondary design office in the French capital to keep pace with its rapid development. growth.

Creative director Nicky Zimmermann said showing in Paris seemed like the right decision as much of the world continues to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, which kept her from leaving Australia for almost two years. Prior to that, Zimmermann presented her collections at New York Fashion Week.

“For me, it’s a challenge. I mean, it’s every designer‘s dream, to be honest,” she told WWD on a Zoom call from Sydney ahead of the event. “It also suits us commercially. We are seeing incredible growth across Europe.

The label has outgrown the Paris office it opened in 2019 and is looking for larger premises, which will include a studio with at least four full-time designers. Zimmermann plans to visit members of its national design team regularly, noting that the location allows it to liaise with fabric suppliers in Italy and manufacturers in places from Turkey to Portugal.

“We just need to be more mobile and able to be in more places, and I really want to expand the creative talent that I’m working with,” she said. “We have a great team here, but I think we can all learn together and there are lots of different ways of doing things, which is what interests us.”

Don’t expect his designs to take on a French accent.

The designer said the Spring 2023 collection was inspired by a story her grandmother told her, though she was keeping the details under wraps until the show. As a teaser, the brand provided a black and white image of Sydney’s first coastal amusement park on Tamarama Beach, which opened in 1887.

“It speaks a lot about the Aussie lifestyle, fun and optimism,” she said. “I come there as an Australian designer, I don’t come there to try to be French.”

The show’s soundtrack will feature voiceovers from well-known Australian actresses, singers and performers addressing the theme of the collection. When it comes to apparel, expect Zimmermann’s signature prints and colors, with an added dose of volume this season.

“We’re not a serious brand that way. We try to bring fun, joy,” she said. “Our approach is to do what we do and be who we are, and that’s really what this show is about.”

Nicky Zimmerman

Georges Antoni/Courtesy of Zimmermann

Founded in Sydney in 1991 by Nicky Zimmermann and her sister Simone, the label is one of Australia’s most successful fashion brands on the global stage, with fans including Beyoncé, Margot Robbie, Kendall Jenner and Jessica Biel.

It is majority-owned by Milan-based investment fund Style Capital, whose portfolio also includes Los Angeles-based company Re/Done, Italian labels Forte_Forte and MSGM and e-tailer LuisaViaRoma. However, it remains a family business. Simone Zimmermann is chief operating officer and the company’s chief executive, Chris Oliver, is Nicky Zimmermann’s husband.

“It’s always worked really well for us to have our strong Australian roots,” she noted. “Because of our remoteness and the way I learned to design quite disconnected from the world, it made us quite unique, which I think is a plus.”

The spring show will be held in the interior courtyard of the Petit Palais art museum, which combines the grandeur of a 19th century peristyle with an open-air garden and ponds.

“It feels typically French to me,” Zimmermann said. “Coming from Australia as well, light and air, and even nature, are so incredibly important, and to be able to have that in a venue where we’re showing is just the perfect combination.”

Since 2018, the brand has opened three boutiques in France: in Saint-Tropez, Paris and Cannes. From Paris, Zimmermann will travel directly to Florence to celebrate the opening of its latest boutique. “We’ve had an incredible retail rollout in the US and Europe this year,” she said. In addition to the shops in the city, Zimmermann follows its customers to where they like to spend their holidays.

The brand now has 52 stores worldwide, including 21 in Australia, 18 in the United States, 12 in Europe and one in China. This year, it opened boutiques in Miami’s Design District as well as in Tampa and Naples, Florida, and Southampton, New York, in addition to Madrid, Puerto Banús and Barcelona in Spain.

“There are a lot of stores in the pipeline,” the creative director said, revealing that Hawaii is also on the cards. “There are a lot of opportunities for us in retail, but for us it has to be quality business, and in roles that we love and feel really confident in.”

Own stores have always played an important role in the development of the brand.

“Simone and I started a lot in our early days as traders, and I love retail, I love having the stores, I love that close connection to the customer. I started at Paddington Markets in Sydney with a rack, and I serve the customers myself, and I made all the clothes myself,” Zimmermann recalls.

“It’s an amazing way to connect with your client and learn and understand creativity, like, what works? I enjoy selling clothes, as well as working in a very creative environment. It’s about having it hand in hand. And for me, having our own stores, we can just express who we are as a brand and as people. We try to make our stores very upbeat, welcoming, comfortable,” she continued.

The Zimmermann store in Cannes, France.

Courtesy of Zimmermann

The shops, designed by Australian interior designer Don McQualter, typically combine local features with Australian artwork. Service is a key part of the equation, with sales staff displaying a friendly demeanor that is typically Down Under.

“It’s such an important thing that you’re really taken care of and that you buy what you really, really like,” Zimmermann said. “It shouldn’t be stressful. It shouldn’t be something that makes you feel uncomfortable [with] or intimidated [by]. It’s the worst thing I could think of.

While it may seem like the brand is running at full throttle, Zimmermann said the journey has been slow and steady.

“It was a long preparation. It probably looks on the outside like things happened quickly, but maybe we haven’t so overtly built this business to the point where it is, and now we’re seeing that there’s most definitely a very strong dynamic for what we’re doing,” she said, declining to divulge sales numbers.

The brand’s upbeat vibe is resonating with post-pandemic customers looking for special occasion outfits. “They were looking for things that made them feel good, they were going on vacation with their family, well, and having fun. And I think that really propelled us,” she said.

In recent years, the brand has diversified its offering to include categories like knitwear and denim, in addition to accessories like handbags, shoes and eyewear. For the Paris show, it is expanding its jewelry assortment, produced for the first time by an external jewelry designer.

Zimmermann touted the “phenomenal” growth in wholesale and said top-performing categories included suits and outerwear, as well as children’s clothing and sunglasses. Yet she still sees room to refine and develop her designs.

“I’ve had the brand for just over 30 years, so I’m happy to continue and continue to build these things, but with quality and with a really strong base and infrastructure to make it last,” said- she declared. “It’s a matter of quality and longevity.”

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