«A fashion scene with an appeal that extends beyond Switzerland»
For 10 years now, Mode Suisse has provided a platform for Swiss design labels and opened the door to international markets. How has it influenced fashion design in Switzerland, what kind of pioneering work has been done and what happens now? Britta Friedrich, Head of Projects for the Migros Pioneer Fund, takes stock of one of the Pioneer Fund’s first promotion projects in the interview.
Britta Friedrich, what does the Migros Pioneer Fund have to do with fashion?
Fashion reflects the spirit of the time and could be said to be a kind of seismograph. We use fashion as a way to express ourselves, communicating with and through the clothes we decide to wear. This makes fashion a sociocultural phenomenon with relevance to the society we live in. As a part of the creative industries, fashion is also an economic factor – one that is often criticised with regard to ethical and ecological issues in particular. With its impact-oriented approach, the Migros Pioneer Fund focuses on the role of fashion in society – culturally, socially, economically, and ecologically. We support projects that do not see fashion as an end in itself, but aim to bring about change through, with and in fashion.
Can you give us some examples of the projects involved?
Mode Suisse is about promoting the creativity and creative power of Swiss fashion design, for example. Laufmeter brings sustainable Swiss fashion directly to customers, thus making a statement against fast fashion. The Circular Clothing project, for its part, supports the shift towards a more sustainable fashion industry through a circular approach to production.
The Mode Suisse platform is one of the first projects in the portfolio of the Migros Pioneer Fund, which was established in 2012. To what extent is Mode Suisse a pioneer?
Switzerland enjoys a good reputation worldwide when it comes to fine fabrics and yarns. The Swiss fashion design, on the other hand, was not really recognised for a long time, neither on the domestic nor the international market. About 10 years ago, Mode Suisse set out to bring Swiss fashion design out of its niche and establish it on the international stage. Despite the great scepticism and considerable resistance, Mode Suisse founder Yannick Aellen believed in the potential and creativity of the Swiss industry. Together with his team, he has created a scene that radiates appeal far beyond the Swiss borders.
Mode Suisse is celebrating an anniversary with its 20th edition. What has Mode Suisse achieved in the past 10 years?
Today, Mode Suisse is a brand with international renown and a functioning network of creatives, media professionals and industry experts from all over the world. It has succeeded in creating a place for Swiss fashion design on the international market. For the labels and designers, participation is both a seal of quality and a door opener – the fashion shows not only attract attention, but also support the labels from an entrepreneurial perspective by inviting buyers from different countries in a targeted approach and providing access to new markets. In addition to validation for the creative work, the sale of clothes brings economic stability – making labels and designers more resilient, which in turn helps to strengthen creativity in our country.
Can you tell us about a highlight in the achievements of the Migros Pioneer Fund?
One of the highlights of our joint journey is certainly the establishment of the unique support alliance made up of the four partners Pro Helvetia, the Zurich Silk Association (ZSIG), the Hulda and Gustav Zumsteg Foundation and the Migros Pioneer Fund, who agreed to work together to support Mode Suisse for a period of five years.
With its impact-oriented approach, the Migros Pioneer Fund focuses on the role of fashion in society – culturally, socially, economically, and ecologically. We support projects that do not see fashion as an end in itself, but aim to bring about change through, with and in fashion.
Britta Friedrich Head of Projects, Migros Pioneer Fund
How has the Migros Pioneer Fund been accompanying the project over these 10 years?
Our approach combines monetary support with active supervision, which means that we are always on hand to provide guidance in the projects. We question, advise and work together to find the best way for the project – and this has always been our approach with Mode Suisse. We’re usually more involved in the initial stages of a project than towards the end. Against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, however, the Mode Suisse team was particularly challenged last year and had to be very agile, with events needing to be rescheduled or cancelled. At the same time, virtual showrooms were set up, and digital communication channels expanded. Here, we were of course on hand to support the project during this process.
The partnership between Mode Suisse and the Migros Pioneer Fund and other associate partners will end this year. What now?
The support of the alliance will end as planned after five years. Mode Suisse has used the time to create a promising basis – not only for Swiss fashion, but also for itself as an organisation. There’s a lot of upheaval in the fashion world right now. The pandemic has not only put global supply and production chains to the test, but has also forced the industry to slow down. Even if “normality” returns to various areas, the issue of sustainability will not be going away. The fashion industry will continue to evolve, despite the various small diversions along the way – and Mode Suisse will have its share in this as the driver of Swiss fashion design.
Would you like to know more about Mode Suisse and the issue of sustainability in the fashion industry?
Migros Magazin spoke to Mode Suisse founder Yannick Aellen and asked him about topics like how much a T-shirt can cost, and how consumers can manage the balancing act between sustainability and a constant stream of new styles for their Instagram feed. Find out more now.
Photo/Stage: Yannick Aellen and Florenece in Julia Heuer, Photo: Bon Wonwannawat