The Fashion Folk S01 ep17 : Nicky Zimmermann, Zimmermann Fashion, [Sydney]
Interview with Nickey Zimmermann
We were a very small company at the time when Fashion Week happened, we had no money but it was always the most successful move that we have every done. By picking up those wholesalers we got an interview with CNN with Elsa Clench and from that we picked up a US distributor and from there we are with Victoria Secrets, and we do significant volume in the USA.
KM Are the Zimmerman's German?
Zimmerman is German my father is German. My mother is Australian.
He is from Hamburg.
KM Oh he is a Hamburger!
He is a hamburger, yes.
I always made my own clothes and things for other people, and I always really
liked the ethic of selling. The company is owned by my sister and I and financed
by us. She basically runs it, which allows me to then do all the collections that we
I did get into design school, and I decided to work for a year for a clothing
company, to sort it out, see how things worked. When I working there, I studied 4
nights a week, 2 nights a week at East Sydney which was like The design school
to get into at the time, and 2 nights a week at a private school.
KM Is that like the equivalent of a Royal College or like a St.Martins?
Absolutely, it was more like a St Martins and Parsons. I did that for a year, and
then I kind of saved up a bit of money and then I went to College full time and that
was for 3 years.
KM How do they train you?
Back then it was pretty free and fairly loose and it was totally about being
creative, which was a fantastic balance for me because I had the experience from
a very controlled small business and saw how tight and tough it was, to go into
college where it was like just use more, more! More print, more fabric, more,
more, more.....go as mad as you possible can.
I was 21 by the time I finished college, and I worked for a swimwear company for
about 9 months, turned 22, left and started my own business.
For me to design I need to know how to make it, so that I need to understand my
pattern makers, and I need to understand how they are going to be able to do
what I want them to do and that they can do it, because I know how to.
I pattern made and made everything myself,.....
KM This was your first collection?
Yes, exactly and I took myself off to Paddington Markets, which at the time,
probably less now, but at the time it was a little bit of a playground for young
designers and from there by chance I started getting some things into vogue
magazine becaue I was lucky enough that one of the editors there was interested
and would take a chance on some one that say didn’t have a whole lot of outlets
that they were selling through, I had a couple but from there I got some full page
editorial pieces which just must have highlighted out my little label to a few retail
outlets and then the next thing I knew I was selling throughout australia and
selling, I wasn’t making a lot of money through the markets as well and then from
there my sister joined me because I was like I can’t invoice and do everything.
KM How did she take the idea - little sister is becoming a fashion designer?
It was... I mean initially it was difficult also because little sister knew a hell of a lot
more than big sister and if you knew big sister, that doesn't go down very well,
and we did the most ridiculous things but somewhere along the line we did have a
balance and we also had both an understanding of where we wanted to go and
what we wanted to do. That basic thing has always stayed with us, through you
know when we’ve had times when we have gone, oh my god should we just give
up, this is just too hard, to being now where we are comfortable.
I did start in swimwear and I knew a bit about it because I had worked for 9
months for quite an established swim company here so I actually knew
construction and everything about that, which is so important as design.
KM Is swimwear I gather the same as lingerie in that respect?
I think it really is, I think it is an eye for what looks good on the body and in....like
people always say to me what can you do, like how can swimwear be interesting.
It is like ....we design over 200 pieces, twice a year, in swimwear and to me it is
about, colour, shape, form, everything and that is where every single design
element training that you have comes into being in getting that right, because it is
also the most difficult because it is the most exposed.
In actual fact if you are doing a good job, it should be that you don't have a great
body but the swimsuit makes you look good.
KM But how do you do that, I mean we are talking about really serious
It is about cut and where you put lines, and it is about colour and print and there
are technical things that you can do that do assist a body....
We were a very small company at the time when Fashion Week happened, we
had no money but it was always the most successful move that we have every
done, by picking up those wholesalers and from that we got an interview with
CNN with Elsa Klench and from that we picked up a US distributor and from there
we are with Victoria Secrets, we do volume in the US
Because I design a ready to wear range collection as well, a lot of the themes run
through from there, a lot of the things .... if we are heading in a direction that are
quite "80's my swimwear collection heads in that direction as well. That is to do
with cut, we will do swimsuits that wrap around
To start, initially for me it is about a print selection, and once I have done my print
selection, we work with an artist or we work with one of the girls here, and we sort
of discuss what we want to do and we do it on computer ourselves and then we
get an artist to put it into repeat for us.
KM And then basically...
I never buy from a swimwear collection it is always our own print and we will print
it on drills, cottons, voiles, so that we can do all the clothing pieces: jerseys, we
make hats, and bags, and everything you can want to go down the beach to look
We do shoes!
Probably the more funniest things that have happened are between Simone and
my relationship. I do remember one time we were in the middle of a whopping
great fight, yelling at each other, I don't know what it was about, it’s always about
something stupid, like I didn't get her lunch or something like that, very important
stuff. I remember I ended up going you fat.........and I was about to say it, as I
turned the corner our P.R. manager was sitting in our little room at the time, (our
entire office was one room at the time), with the entire Vogue team.
KM Ah you're kidding?
I had just finished tell her..... we just found it hysterical, and luckily they found it
hysterical as well, but it was one of those funny things to do.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Nickey Zimmermann, Zimmermann Fashion, Sydney