FROM PARIS VIA NEW YORK TO MALTERS
Lydia has already been in many places in the world. And not just for a fun vacation: She studied in Paris for three years. Modeling and fashion design. Then came the move to New York. To one of the largest fashion metropolises in the world. Her goal: Establish her own fashion label. Become a star designer. Indeed, it turned out a little differently.
Lydia sits on a large white desk. She is concentrating. Very hard. Now and again she glances at the color chart that is lying next to her. Sometimes she changes pencils. Sometimes she takes a glance at some material. But basically, her gaze practically never wavers from the large white paper lying in front of her. She is drawing ski jackets. With meticulous precision and yet huge creativity. Use different color combinations, draw different designs and details, sketch shading, put aside various patterns. Many ideas are put down on paper, and each is itself quite unique, yet they all match and coordinate with each other. “I am sketching different ideas for the 2022-23 Women’s Collection. To do that, I’m orienting myself using different future apparel trends,” she says.
Women’s Collection? 2022-2023? Lydia means the future ski apparel collection from Stöckli. That’s because Lydia has been working for nearly a year at the Swiss ski brand in Malters. There, she develops and designs the entire ski apparel collection by Stöckli, together with her colleagues and mentor. Lydia focuses on the women’s side, her associate on the Men’s Collection. Together, the two of them work on 140 pieces. And the number just gets bigger every year.
Product developer at Stöckli in Malters outside of Lucerne? What happen to the runways in New York? “I gave that up,” she says, adding, “it didn’t really work out, and sometimes you just have to be realistic. I learned a lot in New York, a huge amount. I would not be where I am today if it hadn’t been for New York. The experiences were grand.” Then she smiles. Beams, in fact. Just like whenever she says something. “New York demanded a lot from me. The city is a dream, but very superficial. One day, they think you are the best; on the next, nobody is interested in you anymore. But New York taught me never to give up. If you fall down, then you stand up again, and fight on. Over and over. That’s why I also found my place, and here I have the best job in the whole world,” she says.
As a product developer at Stöckli. But what does that really mean? “We are a small team with three people, and we do nearly everything ourselves. We analyze trends, define our target demographic, make up mood boards, draw sketches, determine the materials needed, pick colors, develop detailed worksheets (sewing instructions) for production, approve prototypes, pass on changes to production, perform quality controls, enter negotiations, and are responsible for marketing.” Really, a big challenge and an important job duty. Because in the end much here is what decides the success or failure of an entire, new collection. Does the target demographic like the apparel – both in Switzerland and internationally? Does it match the ski collection? Does it hold its own with the big competitors of brands? Question after question. And no matter what, the same always holds true: Never lose your focus designing.
“That is very important,” says Lydia. “When we design a collection, we quickly have more than 100 ideas. Perhaps 1,000 inspirations from fashion books and fashion weeks in Milan, New York, Paris, or London. And 1,000 different influences and opinions from various people. That never stops during the entire development process. You can always tweak something or change something. Make an eyelet different, a button a little smaller, a zipper a little bigger. The hardest part is to make a decision and then say, OK, that’s it now. That’s what we do.” That assumes enormous discipline with boundless creativity. And of course, conviction and courage. That is what Lydia learned in New York. As a designer, one must stand behind an apparel collection 100%, invest yourself in it, and have arguments ready to say why you did a certain thing or how you did something. Because really in the end there are unlimited other possibilities. Fashion is always a matter of taste, something we feel inside. A cut or color selected doesn’t please everybody. That’s normal and we need to be able to sidestep that. Otherwise, we just lose ourselves. And our identity. That’s why we put our focus totally on the opinions and needs of our target group. This is for us our first priority and why we give our all everyday – to offer our customers a ski apparel collection of the highest standards.”