One of the best things about the fash­ion industry today is that is truly is glob­al. Gone are the days when you had to live in one of the “big four” cit­ies to make it as a design­er. In fact, many cre­at­ives find­ing them­selves liv­ing in less crowded, more inspir­ing loc­a­tions often have a fresh per­spect­ive on and added depth to their work. We met with Zurich-based design­er, Julia Seemann, to talk about life as a design­er in Switzer­land and how it feels to have Rihan­na pluck your pieces straight off the run­way.

You lived and stud­ied in Switzer­land, how do you feel that has influ­enced your work?

—I think it influ­enced my work in terms of my approach to how I develop a col­lec­tion; the pro­cess is pretty struc­tured. My fam­ily and a lot of my friends are in Switzer­land so that gives me some secur­ity and I feel at home here. But build­ing a fash­ion brand in Switzer­land is dif­fi­cult because the fash­ion scene is very small and people here some­times don’t really under­stand what the job of a fash­ion design­er is. That’s why I’m also think­ing of relo­cat­ing to one of the big four, may­be Lon­don; it’s easi­er to build a net­work because you’re right at the pulse of an inter­na­tion­ally rel­ev­ant fash­ion scene. But I’d still need some time before under­tak­ing a big step like that, it can’t hap­pen overnight. Logist­ic­ally it’s quite com­plex and expens­ive so we’ll see how everything evolves.

You interned for Vivi­en­ne West­wood and Meadham Kirch­hoff; all design­ers who are known for their bold, visu­al and sculp­tur­al designs, some­thing your work def­in­itely shares. Has work­ing with these vis­ion­ary design­ers inspired the way you work and cre­ate?

—Yes, I could say that it influ­enced the way I work and also how I don’t work. At Meadham Kirch­hoff I learned how essen­tial it is to intensely research the themes and moods you’re inter­ested in before you start design­ing, and to visu­al­ise it all on a big mood­board. I also learned a lot about organ­isa­tion and timelines.  Aes­thet­ic­ally, I would say that work­ing for them had an influ­ence on my work but it came more nat­ur­ally, as they helped emphas­ise my vis­ion and interest in music and sub­cul­tures the dir­ec­tion in which I wanted my own work to go.

Your work is very tex­ture and pat­tern led, decon­struct­ing and com­bin­ing leather, vinyl and den­ims – all rather harsh fab­rics — in a uniquely fem­in­ine way and con­trast­ing pat­terns across gar­ments. What is it about mix­ing up tex­tures and prints that appeals to you?

—I like the con­trast between harsh tex­tures and the female body. I think my gar­ments, through using such harsh mater­i­als, tex­tures and over­sized volumes, set the female body in a new and mod­ern con­text. I like the idea of a girl wear­ing her boyfriend’s den­im jack­et as if it comes nat­ur­ally and the idea of mix­ing up the closets of both men and women. Work­ing with con­trast­ing mater­i­als and pat­terns in one gar­ment enhances it on a visu­al, tex­tile and haptic level. I want to make clothes people want to touch and feel on the body.

Rihan­na loved your work so much that she wore an entire look of yours the day after it premiered on the run­way, which is incred­ible! Who else would you love to see sport­ing your designs?

—I would of course love to see her again in one of my out­fits but I don’t want to design clothes only for celebrit­ies. My vis­ion is to make clothes for the people that sur­round me, my friends, people like you and me. I think as a young fash­ion brand today it’s import­ant to under­stand your cus­tom­er. It makes no sense for me to have a fash­ion brand and make clothes no one can really wear or dresses you wear once for a spe­cial occa­sion and then ban­ish to the closet.

Your work is evid­ently inspired by vari­ous art-forms, but what else inspires you cre­at­ively?

—I’m a pretty nos­tal­gic per­son in terms of music, which is another source of inspir­a­tion. I like the con­nec­tion between dif­fer­ent sub­cul­tures and their respect­ive music scene. I don’t con­cen­trate on one type of music or scene; what really interests me are the codes of cloth­ing but also the habits and moods of those dif­fer­ent scenes, be it the dark wave, hip hop or tech­no scenes. Back in the day, those trends where much more dis­tinct in soci­ety. I remem­ber when you were a kid in school you had to decide weth­er you wanted to be the hip hop girl or the punk girl. Nowadays those bound­ar­ies are much more ambigu­ous, which is a chance for me as a design­er to mix it all up and cre­ate some­thing new. Per­son­ally I like to go to a goth­ic party one day and then go to see Esto­ni­an rap­per TOMM¥ €A$H the next day. This is what youth cul­ture is about today and that’s what inspires me cre­at­ively.