It's a Tuesday afternoon when my editor Louise pulls me aside and asks me to sit down as she has "some news." Unsure of what to think, I sit, and she tells me that we've been presented with an opportunity to interview Nicky Zimmermann, one half of the duo behind the cult Australian label (Nicky is the creative director, and Simone is the Managing Director), as the brand is launching a special collection to celebrate 10 years with Net-a-Porter. It's a good thing she told me to sit because I screamed. Like out loud, and really high pitched, in my boss's face. Not one of my finest professional moments, I'll admit. Thankfully, Louise knows me (and my obsession with the brand) all too well and had anticipated this reaction so she laughs.
Fast forward two weeks and I'm sitting in the conference room here at our offices, dialling in to speak with Nicky while she is in New York. I've genuinely never been so nervous to interview anyone, ever. This is a brand who's journey I have followed closely for years, and whose clothes make up a good 80% of my wardrobe. As an Australian, I'm proud that these two Sydney-based creatives are representing us on the global fashion stage, and as a fashion/shopping/clothing enthusiast, I'm forever thankful I discovered their flattering and feminine designs. I wore a dress of theirs to my engagement party, and several pieces on my honeymoon, and its my first stop whenever I go home - so it's safe to say I'm emotionally, financially and sartorially invested, hence my nerves.
Nicky answers the phone in her familiar Australian accent, and I'm instantly at ease. Despite the immense fame the brand has found since its beginnings at Sydney's Bondi Markets back in 1991, Nicky remains completely down to earth. We're here to chat about the brand's newest collection, an exclusive 11-piece capsule - aptly named "Good Times" - for Net-a-Porter to mark their 10-year anniversary, which launches on the site today.
Harper's Bazaar Arabia: You’ve been stocked on Net-a-Porter (NAP) for 10 years – what did it mean to you to have them support the brand?
Nicky Zimmermann: It was a milestone in the business for us. For Simone and I, we always knew what NAP was going to be, and it’s such a great platform for a brand like us to be on. It has such international reach in such a quality way, and it is, and always has been, a brand that we want to be aligned with. It’s incredibly important and it’s something that I’m really proud of. They took a chance on us and they saw something they liked and something they thought there was a gap in the market for, and they’ve very much supported us. I think that we have a really nice synergy. It’s most definitely been something that’s helped with international recognition for us and most definitely on a level of quality that you want. We’re extremely proud of the fact that we’ve been stocked on NAP for 10 years.
HBA: How did the idea for the celebratory capsule collection come about?
NZ: The idea really came about through a conversation with our buyer Maria, who is great and always open to our conversations, about what we’re doing and what we want to do. NAP gave us the opportunity to do another capsule – this is our 3rd. For me, this was great, it was almost easy! (laughs) It certainly resonates with me. I love the idea of celebrating 10 years of good times with NAP. It was a lot of fun.
HBA: How long has it been in the making for?
NZ: We would have been speaking in February when we were in New York for fashion week, and then we were in the UK in March and we kind of solidified what the idea was and literally I was given a few months and we turn it around. It’s super quick. The whole design process is even faster because we get it into CADs really quickly so they can take a little look and see if the direction is what they were thinking as well. The amazing thing with NAP and the capsules we’ve done is that they’re really open to what we’re doing. It’s very much a collaboration of ideas and we're given freedom to express it in the way we want to. Always for me, it’s a good sign if I want to wear most of it. I sit there like, 'yes I want to wear that, and that, and that'…It’s a good indication.
HBA: What was the inspiration behind the collection? Did you want it to reflect the current season collection, or was it more of an archival collection of sorts?
NZ: For me it was very much about looking at archival buys that NAP have done that I thought were iconic pieces for Zimmermann, but they’re not really recognisable to anybody else except for me, I don’t think, as archival. It’s just taking a lace or colour inspiration, and then totally reinterpreting it into something new. It’s really a feeling of something we’ve done rather than doing something directly that we've done before. I wanted it to be totally new and to have that progression of design but still be very 'Zimmermann' in its essence. I know that if I’m going on a holiday, these are the pieces I want packed in my bag.
L-R: Swimsuit, Dhs3,114; Dress, Dhs1,850; Bikini, Dhs1,080; and jumpsuit, Dhs3,516, all Zimmermann for Net-a-Porter
HBA: Yes they look like they’re just made to be thrown into a suitcase, and worn on summer adventures…
NZ: Yes you’re ready to go! You’re pretty dressed up, but you’re ready to go! (laughs)
HBA: What’s your ultimate summertime outfit?
NZ: I change daily. I think people ask me what my personal style is, but for me, it’s about dressing for a mood, and quite often it’s a beautiful chiffon floral dress, but it depends on how I’m feeling on that day. But on a beautiful hot summers day that’s my go-to, feel-good look for sure. It’s completely easy. I always find that when you wear a dress like that, you get asked about it.
HBA: Do you have any travel plans this summer? Are you trying to avoid the Australian winter?
NZ: Oh yes, we like to follow the sun. We definitely are the brand in that sense. We get to London, and then we’re flying to Greece. Our kids are flying over to meet us, and we’re starting at Hydra which is a little island off Athens before we make our way to Mykonos, and then we’re going to Italy with some family friends for a week after that. It’s going to be amazing and we miss out on five weeks of winter!
HBA: Which is your favourite piece from the collection?
NZ: The black dress because of its technical embroidery. We created this amazing leaf embroidery that’s clipped from the edges. I love that it has a bit of a three-dimensional element to it. I tried the technique for the first time in our latest spring/summer collection but did it on linen, whereas in this collection it’s on a washed chiffon silk. I didn’t know what was going to happen, but thankfully it worked out! I know that I'll be able to wear it with a million things. I had the sample on and I loved it.
HBA: Do the team often find you with the samples?
NZ: Yes! (laughs) They always hound me because they know I always have them.
L-R: Dress, Dhs6,254; Dress, Dhs6,254; Jumpsuit, Dhs3,893; and dress, Dhs6,430, all Zimmermann for Net-a-Porter
HBA: How do you feel Zimmermann has grown as a brand over the past 10 years since it launched on NAP?
NZ: I think it’s experienced an amazing amount of growth. Especially in the last two years , we've just taken off and I think it’s coincided with doing shows in New York and opening stores internationally. All of these things work hand in hand, and everything is of a certain quality. It helps to solidify in the minds of our customer that we’re in the places that they are and we’re selling where they want to be.
HBA: How do you feel you and Simone have grown in that same 10 year period?
NZ: We’re a bit older but hopefully still fun! (laughs) It’s been amazing. I think for me creatively I’ve been able to grow a lot in that time and I've been able to really learn and understand the different markets and what appeals in those different markets. NAP gives us all of this amazing information and as a designer to have that information is wonderful. Creatively that definitely helps you.
HBA: So when you design, do you have particular markets in mind, or do you just picture the quintessential Zimmermann woman?
NZ: It’s not as analytical as thinking about different markets. For me, it’s the best when its something that I love and something I’m very personally happy with and attached to. I find that that is when it resonates with our customer. Plus, the Zimmermann girl is the same girl in every different country that we sell to. They love the same thing, and I think stylistically they just get it and it resonates. They’re not different, so I don’t really change according to that.
We’ve never really had to explain who we are – you know even back in the day when we would come into the fashion magazine offices and unzip a suitcase, I’d see the girls go “oh wow” and the next minute they’re calling everyone else in to have a look. It speaks to women. There’s something about it that girls understand. It has that femininity, and it also comes with a bit of an edge.
We’re also a very hands-on brand – we’re very connected. And I’m very connected to the design and work very closely on every single thing, there’s a lot of attention to detail and I think our girl sees and appreciates that.
HBA: The beauty of Zimmermann, for me as a consumer, is that you can get it all in the one place - from swimsuits for the pool, to separates for every day wear and then these really beautful dresses for evening wear...
NZ: It is very much the essence of what our brand is. It sort of comes down to where we’re from and the sort of lifestyle that we have. You know I’ll wear a dress like that to work and then go out to meet friends in Bondi afterwards. I might wear a pair of runners with it, and then throw on a pair of heels, and you know that’s what we do. I don’t necessarily distinguish the dresses. They’re most definitely resort looking pieces but honestly, I always walk around in a floral dress. It can translate, and its how the wearer wants to interpret it. I really love seeing women interpret the pieces according to their own style.
HBA: The brand’s easy, feminine silhouettes are perfect for our climate here in the Middle East, and I know you’re currently stocked in a few places around the region - are there any plans to open a store here anytime soon?
NZ: It’s most definitely in our plan. At the moment we’re looking to something in London, which is a process but that will be in the next 18 months, and we’ve also got a couple of New York stores, one in Miami (we’ve been going there for years, because we’ve been doing the swim shows) and one in California. We know that we have a great following in the Middle East and I think that our aesthetic is perfect for it. It’s definitely something that we’re looking for.
HBA: What are your thoughts on Middle Eastern style?
NZ: I think that there’s a certain femininity that really suits Zimmermann and that works very well which I think is why we have such a good following there.
HBA: Are there plans to expand the brand’s offerings? RTW and Swim are obviously two huge sectors for you, so I wonder if there are plans to expand into a greater shoe/bag/accessory offering or if you’ll continue to focus on RTW and Swim, seeing as they’re doing so well?
NZ: I don’t like to be spread too thin so the focus is always on RTW and Swim. That said, I’m shoe and accessory obsessed so it’s most definitely something that we’re looking at as a brand to expand what that offering is and to bring that into what our brand essence is. Those things take a decent amount of time to do well, and they’re things that I want to really love but also have them make sense with what we’re doing so it’s in the pipeline but I’m not in a massive hurry because I want to do it very well.
HBA: This collection with NAP celebrates the past 10 years, what do you hope to be celebrating in the next 10?
NZ: I think, as a brand, we’re continually evolving everything from design to what our goals are for the brand, and we’re obviously in a phase of really solidifying the work that we’ve done over the years. I would hope to be celebrating that we’re doing great quality, beautiful designs that are making people happy. For me, it’s really important that people have an association of a great memory when they wear us, and I love that that is a part of what Zimmermann is – you know they wore it on their honeymoon or to a wedding. They’re the comments we get and I’d love for that to continue and very much build on that, It’s great when you do something that is a part of people’s memories. That’s a really nice feeling and I'd love to continue that and build on it.
The Zimmermann for Net-a-Porter collection is available here from today.