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.