Julian Zigerli


As you all know, we’re a bit nuts about Julian Zigerli here at Œ. Recently, our friends from Freunde von Freunden vistited him in Zürich to unveil some fascinating insights into the designer’s life. Here are some excerpts from the interview, which covers everything from pink sweaters to dinosaurs.

You recently moved into your first apartment in the Hardau high-rises from the 1970s. You can’t live higher anywhere in Zurich.
I only recently found out that it was even possible to live in the towers. They’re city homes. A colorful mix of creatives, seniors, youths and the poor live here, there’s a bit of everything. I can see the morning sun glittering on the lake. In Berlin I had a view of the TV tower. The whole idea of living here was super spontaneous. I moved in on December 23rd and on December 24th my former roommate and friend and I went to buy new furniture.

Speaking of furnishings: What’s with the dinosaur next to the TV?
Dinos will never be boring. I mean, were they purple or blue or orange? We know so little about them – that fascinates me. This is the reason we shot the campaign for To Infinity and Beyond, my fall/winter collection, in the Aathal Dinosaur Museum near Zurich. I bought the one next to the TV in 2012 as I worked on the To Infinity and Beyond collection.

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Does your family play a central role in your life?
Yes. My parents support me in any way they can and also travel to the shows, they know all of my friends. In my apartment, next to knick-knacks from all over the world and three bags of shoes, there are almost only heirlooms from my grandparents. Their round dining table, the alpaca sofa, the standing lamp. The collection of crystal is arranged almost exactly as it was for years at my grandparents: on a marble slab on an old radiator.

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You’re unusually eccentric for a Swiss. You say that Snoop Dogg should wear your designs, that Disneyland is a source of inspiration, everywhere your name is there are dancing pandas and smileys.
This is my heart, my being. Sure I work with it. From the time I was small it was always headed in this direction.

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What do your fashions mean to you?
When it comes to sales it’s just a pair of pants or a top. When I’m designing I building a complete world around it. It’s extremely important to me that these two things are separate from each other. Exactly because I make looks that are so strong and present them as monochrome prints as well. Not everyone understands that. It often happens that people are surprised when they put a shirt from me on and realize: “Ah, the pieces from Julian Zigerli really aren’t so crazy.”

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Does your success in Asia have to do with social media?
Overall, I think so, the internet has helped my label to become better known. Especially when I want to sell internationally. But I’m not sure if the Asian market works well because of social media. I was just in Japan for three weeks, Instagram is widespread, but I didn’t have the experience of the Japanese being very active. In China, Facebook and Instagram are blocked, that much I know. So I’m not reaching them that way. But Asians just work differently, they understand my aesthetic.

Some of your collections have already been presented on the internet.
Yes, you can reach a lot of people with the medium. This was the way collaboration with Parisian design trio The Golgotha for The One and Only, the 2014 Fall/Winter collection, came about. The guys saw my stuff somewhere and contacted me via Twitter. In the end they created all the prints for The One and Only. Also this season’s summer collection, which will be in stores soon, was to an extent, created over social networks.

You mean you also collaborated with Daniel Pitout, the singer of the Canadian band Eating Out, because of social networks?
Exactly. At some point I read about Daniel Pitout and found him exciting. He’s a punk rocker, skater and openly gay. A rare mix. I listened to his music and looked at the videos. They’re really nice: summer vibes, skating, Los Angeles. I liked it. We wrote via Facebook. That was a year ago. Then he wrote the song “Life is One of the Hardest” for the new 2015 summer collection. And because he’s a very attractive man, we flew him in for the campaign and fashion video.

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What is the video for your summer collection 2015, Life is One of the Hardest, about?
It’s about an overworked office worker shortly before he snaps. He worked for 72 hours straight and is totally exhausted. Then this “salary man” falls into a world that is totally free.

Your reality isn’t so far from this plot. The fashion business is brutal, the investment is high, the pressure enormous.
That’s true. Following fashion week I always have the blues. After Milan and Berlin I go to Paris, where I have a showroom. This means you sit around the whole day with your clothes and the people come and look at your things, maybe give feedback or not. That’s always the hardest time for me because I’m really exhausted afterwards. For the first three years I simply made, made, made, then looked at what came out of it. But for the last year it’s been eating away at me. When we sit together and look at the numbers for the company, you ask yourself, “Why the fuck are we doing this?” It’s not always easy.

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How do you deal with it?

My nicknames weren’t Susi Serene and Carrie Careless without reason. This attitude is deeply rooted in me, without it I would have gone under a long time ago. You work hard as a designer and it proceeds slowly. I have a great environment that believes in me – as with many fashion designers in Switzerland. They’re thrilled that I give it everything. That gives me an extreme push.

Read the complete interview on Freunde von Freunden

Interview: Stephanie Rebonati
Photos: Robbie Lawrence