Why Switzerland has growing appeal as a home for international apparel brands

Kate Berry & Sally Blaxall QHQ (q-hq.com)

Switzerland may be a small country located in Western Europe yet it has always held plenty of fashion appeal and a certain sense of glamour. Famous for its quaint Alpine ski resorts and historically attractive to an international fashionable crowd, Switzerland has always held pace with it’s neighbouring European countries. Idillic alpine villages such as Gstaad have long been frequented by the British Royal family, European aristocracy, Hollywood movie stars and the international jet set. Where else on the planet can you play snow polo on as part of your aprés ski?

As well as tourism, Switzerland is a leader in several global markets and the birthplace of many luxury brands and products. ‘Swiss’ has become a synonym for quality with its rich history of producing beautiful watches - incorporating classic designs and the latest tech-nology. Watch brands such as Brightling, Rolex, Omega and Tissot have created a global reputation for Switzerland as the leader in manufacturing timepieces. An impressive 90% of Swiss-made watches are exported for sale. Fashion watchmaker, Swatch has been a force to be reckoned with since the 1980s and has attracted many designer collaborations with key figures in the industry such as Vivienne Westwood.

Switzerland is also well know for it’s delicious chocolate - it has a rich heritage of chocolate making since the 17th century. Swiss milk chocolate is heralded as one of the best in the world - naming Lindt and Toblerone as two of it’s most high profile international brands, again creating a product that is exported for sale internationally.

There is also its reputation for banking - Swiss banks protect their client’s financial confi-dentiality from third party information requests and therefore attract the wealth of many high-income individuals worldwide. For eight years in a row, the World Economic Forum has placed Switzerland as the most competitive economy in the world.

Switzerland is now attracting the fashion industry as several high profile brands have moved their headquarters to Zurich in the last few years. Taking the fashion industry somewhat by surprise, leading fashion brand, Vetements relocated their headquarters from Paris to Zurich in March this year.

Zurich is a city with fashionable aspirations. It now hosts its own version of fashion week showcasing homegrown brands and talent. Vetements CEO, Guram Gvasalia stated at the time of the move that he and his designer brother, Demna, simply wanted a ‘clean slate’. ‘Paris kills creativity,’ he said in an interview with Swiss newspaper, Tages-Anzeiger, adding that Zurich also has lower taxes and less bureaucracy.

In Bern, Switzerland’s capital city, fashion shopping is a major draw for tourists - it boasts one of the longest shopping streets in Europe and pedestrian crossings sprinkled with Swarovski crystals. Richemont, one of the largest global fashion players bases itself in Switzerland, housing top fashion brands: Cartier, Montblanc and Chloé.

The booming retail industry in Switzerland includes established brands such as Strellson, Bally and Navyboot. Whilst high street brand, Chicorée is growing continuously in popularity. Swiss fashion retailer, Tally Weijl is going from strength to strength internationally, and now has stores in over 37 countries.

Switzerland has been attractive to multinationals (including fashion businesses) for many years due to its favourable tax regime where corporations with foreign operations can receive preferential treatment. In 2010, the Gucci Group transferred its headquarters from London to Cadempino, Switzerland. Zegna, Hugo Boss and Guess have administrative and supply chain hubs in the southern Swiss canton of Ticino. Whilst Stabio is already home to Timberland, North Face, Vans and Napapijri.

Kate Berry, director of QHQ “ We have certainly noticed an increase in companies recruit-ing for technical roles in Switzerland over the last year and we are looking forward to see-ing how the industry develops there in time.”

You can also read this article on Fashion United