Net-a-Porter and Zimmermann are celebrating a decade of selling beautiful travel-ready pieces together by, quite aptly, offering a capsule of beautiful clothing. Titled “Ten Years of Good Times” the eleven-piece line includes swimwear and ready-to-wear inspired by the Australian brand’s favorite pieces over the last ten years of working with the e-comm giant. “Nicky and Simone were the first to create beachwear that complements the rest of a woman’s wardrobe,” Maria Williams, senior buyer at Net-a-Porter says, “Since it launched onsite back in 2006, our customers have been loving the brand’s offering of multitasking pieces that are perfect for days on the beach as well as for summer parties.” It being summer beach party season, BAZAAR spoke with Nicky Zimmermann, co-founder of the brand and its head designer (sister and co-founder Simone is the business brains behind the operation) about chic travel, staying timeless and how e-commerce has changed over the last decade.
Harper’s BAZAAR: Zimmermann has such an interesting DNA as a fashion brand with a swim component. How do you balance those?
Nicky Zimmermann: Interesting enough, we started as ready-to-wear; the swim actually started probably five years into the business. I think for me, the swim was about the ready-to-wear. It is really in the details—it’s the swim that you’re wearing to a function. That’s where the heart and soul of the swim comes from and I think it’s what really makes a difference. I guess it’s what we’ve been noticed for because of its point of difference, but now with the shows, and presenting each season in New York, it’s a completely different scenario.
HB: Do you think showing during New York Fashion Week has influenced people’s perspective on the brand?
NZ: I think so. Definitely. And I think it’s a combination of the shows and having the retail stores in New York and on the West Coast—being able to see the collection in its entirety, so it starts to really make sense for people.
HB: Let’s talk about the capsule collection, how did it come about?
NZ: We have a really close relationship with Marie Williams, our buyer at Net-a-Porter, and it really came out of a conversation. They love capsules, and they love having exclusives—they’re a very encouraging partner in that way. With this one, they were like, “did you realise we’ve been working with you for ten years?”—I mean of course we did. So I said, “I know! Amazing, fantastic. What can we do?” We wanted it to be a celebration. For me—and my design team—we knew what to do. So it was a really nice, really appropriate capsule for us. It was fun to do it.
HB: And what specifically did you have in mind to create for the capsule?
NZ: We wanted to take a bit of inspiration from the past designs that we’ve done [for Net-a-Porter], some that have done really well and ones we particularly loved. It was about being re-inspired by those. They’re all new prints and all new color-ways—but most definitely an inspiration from things that we’ve done.
HB: What’s your favourite piece from the capsule collection?
NZ: There’s a dress we call the Bell dress, it’s a silk organza embroidered dress. Originally we did it in an off-white and it had embroidery all over it. We designed beautiful insert trims—they’re quite graphic and they oppose the paisley-like embroidery. It’s sort of a technical design, but it’s the most beautiful dress. It was pretty much an all-time favorite in my eyes. I was really happy to redo it in another color, I was like this is great. With the new embroidery I think we really improved upon it, actually—which is always a nice thing.
NZ: I always have conversations in the design room with my girls and it’s just, I really have a lot of respect for my customer and I love when I get to talk to them and when they buy something they really love— it’s not necessarily a practical kind of emotion, they just really love it. But for me they deserve us to work really hard on that—to really put those special details in what I know personally makes me really love a dress. It’s the reason why you keep something for a really long time. It’s the reason why you put something on, you feel really great in it. As the designer, that’s our mission, when we’re thinking about doing something. I want somebody to fall in love with it. You put a lot of effort into that. Going forward, to continue to implement that, we put slips under the printed georgette, which has always been a little bit of a bug for me—when I wear a print georgette dress, I don’t want to wear a nude slip—so we either match the same color as the outside of the dress or we put the same print as the slip underneath. These are really things that are important to me.
HB: I honestly have Zimmermann dresses in my closet from five, six years ago, and I’m the kind of person who throws things out. It seems there’s a timeless nature to your pieces. What is your perspective on the trend cycle in fashion?
NZ: Thank you! When you’re in fashion that’s obviously a part of what goes on, but I think certain brands—and I’d like to think that we have it—have an essence to who you are. It’s a certain kind of authenticity. I think from myself and my design team, we can’t do anything else. We’re just doing things we really like. Sometimes it moves with the trends, sometimes it is what it is. I think you know sometimes the trends are more in our favor, at the moment things are very much about print and color and there’s a lot of eclectic looks. I think the main thing that I like is when girls are into style individuality. For a brand, that is great because it doesn’t matter what else is going on. It’s about how it makes you feel.
HB: Ten years with Net-a-Porter is a long time, considering how e-commerce and the Internet evolved so much in that decade. What are the biggest shifts you’ve seen in that time?
NZ: I think it’s huge! I’m not really involved in the business side of things, but for me I guess it’s a real shift in how people shop and how people think about things—as a designer I find it really interesting. The biggest thing, and it’s really on my side, is how interested people are in fashion in all aspects of their lives now. That wasn’t necessarily the case before. It’s also Instagram and social media, this visual stimulus for people—it’s for people who enjoy fashion. If you do, then it’s what you take away on your holiday, it’s what makes you feel good. And then you’re going to take a photograph of yourself, so then if you do that now it’s posted somewhere, and then all your friends see it. So I think it all goes hand-in-hand with online shopping and how people think today about fashion. It’s just made people more interested in fashion. Which obviously for me is a great thing. There’s always a summer somewhere, and we’re always ready with the right dress. We’ll help you have a good time, you know?
HB: So who do you really see as the Zimmerman woman?
NZ: It’s definitely a woman who likes feminine clothing who has a voice and a strong opinion. I think our woman likes to feel good wherever she is. She’s a traveler, but she’s happy to walk around New York in a beautiful dress at night. I think our woman is, from what we’ve really been noticing, from just about everywhere. She’s really a sort of modern girl. For me as a designer, it’s a handful of my friends, it’s a handful of the girls who I work with, it’s so many different people.