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Monday, 27 October 2008

A few days after conquering Säntis, I visit the Sentis shop. The pop-up store showcases the Sentis™ collection, a fusion of young design with traditional textile craft from the Appenzell region where I live. When I came here for the first time, I had no idea this area is world famous for its embroidery. It was my one luxurious night in Hotel Einstein, a former textile factory, that made me realize I had arrived to study fashion in a textile city. In the early 1900’s, more than half of the global embroidery production originated in St. Gallen. Although the industry shrank heavily over the last century, St. Gallen embroideries are still in high demand by the creators of Parisian couture. I’m not surprised when I see the Sentis™ collection: the “brides dress” is an explosion of cultural symbols embroidered in neon colors and the perfect example of ethical chic.

sentis.jpgWhile many ethically inspired labels lack real design and the right presentation, Sentis™ is very strong on these. Designers Kathrin Baumberger and Bernhard Duss have worked with local artisans to translate traditional techniques to modern silhouettes. Deeply rooted in the region through the brand name, the designs and techniques, the collection is wearable art consisting of woolen coats, skirts with painted graphics and embroidered jackets. Winks to local mascots such as the Swiss cows that adorn belts and jewelry, make me instantly greedy. This is catalyzed by the atmospheric pictures of the collection that attracted me to it in the first place. Huge canvas prints line the walls of the guerilla shop as well as the wall of my office in a fold-out-brochure-that-turned-to poster version. The fresh mixture of design, quality, ethical practices such as local production, culture, photography, marketing and commerce make Sentis™ a great example of a well-done ethical brand from Switzerland. Unfortunately for me, the prices are Swiss too: a typical eco fashion mountain to overcome.

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