Switzerland is one of the world’s smaller countries, with just 8 million people. And Zurich, its biggest city, is hardly a global giant, with fewer than 400,000 inhabitants. But both punch well above their weight. Switzerland and Zurich are highly cosmopolitan and among the world’s wealthiest locations in terms of income per person, with stratospheric Swiss prices counterbalanced by commensurately high local salaries.
As an international financial center, Switzerland’s big banks and markets attract wealth, as do services such as accountancy, law and consulting, along with media and information technology.
Zurich benefits from strong tourist and transit flows. Its airport is among Europe’s busiest, with the high reputation of national carrier Swiss attracting significant transit trade. On top come strong tourist flows — notably, in recent years, newcomers from Asia, particularly China.
A Swiss retail showcase serves many purposes. Customers are overwhelmingly affluent, upper middle class, ranging from well-heeled, globe-trotting locals to rich foreigners, resident expats working for multinationals or visitors coming to see their private banker or install offspring in upmarket Swiss private schools, or for top-notch medical treatment. That cosmopolitan pool means Zurich’s shoppers range from rich Russians to plutocratic Peruvians also attracted by Switzerland’s safety and discretion.
“The region is an important luxury market for Europe. Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland. It is very international and diverse. It is simultaneously young and modern and traditional and historical. Its status as a leading financial center means that there is a high quality of living, traveling and spending in the area,” said Bruno Guillon, chief executive officer of Mulberry, one of this year’s openings. “There are two types of customers in Zurich, and Mulberry appeals to both: the well-situated local from Zurich and its surrounding area, and the international clients travelling for business and tourism.”
Top fashion retail is concentrated around the showcase Bahnhofstrasse, a leafy, largely pedestrianized artery leading from Lake Zurich to the main station (Bahnhof), and smaller streets like Rennweg and Storchengasse alongside.
“The Bahnhofstrasse and its surroundings are the Swiss equivalent of a big mall, just without a roof,” said Marco Feusi of Wüest & Partner, a leading commercial property consultancy. “The area offers the full range from H&M to Dior and the most exclusive jewellers, all in one compact zone. That makes it very special.”
Restrained elegance is key. Punks, beggars and buskers — a feature of even the most prestigious shopping streets in most other countries — are conspicuous by their absence. Crime rates are minimal.
Zurich is Switzerland’s undisputed retail — and fashion — capital. “The Bahnhofstrasse is the best-known shopping street in the country,” said Markus Hünig, chairman of the Zurich Bahnhofstrasse Association, a local lobby.
Economic growth and lack of supply have pushed rents up. “Ground-floor Bahnhofstrasse space goes from 3,500 to 9,000 Swiss francs a square meter [about $340 to $872 a square foot at current exchange] a year,” said Feusi.
Mulberry, interestingly, opted for Storchengasse, a smaller and much more intimate street nearby. “We spend a great deal of time considering an area. A good location is not just the right street but the right store, size and building. Storchengasse is a beautiful street with a variety of boutiques in the heart of the city. It has a feel of traditional Zurich but is very inviting for shopping and attracts a range of customers,” said Guillon.
Population: 394,012 (end 2012) Population change, past year: +1 percent Population change, past five years: +6 percent Population projection: 425,000 in 2017 Per-capita income: 84,648 Swiss francs (private sector; figure published 2010; about $83,000 at average exchangefor 2010) Key industries: Financial services, banks, insurance; manufacturing (light and heavy engineering, medical technology); services including accountancy, consulting, law; information technology and software; tourism Where the growth is coming from: Switzerland enjoys a modestly rising birth rate, but transient residents have been the real driver. Arrivals have tended to be professionals and entrepreneurs, often from neighboring Germany. Zurich and its surroundings have been the main magnet. Number of malls: Two within five miles (Sihl City and Glattbrugg) Mall developments: None within five miles. Switzerland has relatively few malls. Development is hampered by lack of land, severe zoning restrictions and stiff rules on building preservation. Other major construction projects: The Zurich West former industrial area is now under redevelopment into high-rise offices, apartments, shops and hotels; Europaallee area of former railway yards around main railway station is a substantial, though smaller, additional spur to retail, residential and office development; The Circle, a vast, semicircular office, retail and hotel project adjacent to the terminals at Zurich airport, further outside the city.
HOT SPOT: BAHNHOFSTRASSE
Less statuesque than the Champs-Elysées, more imposing than Bond Street, this is Zurich’s Fifth Avenue — every upscale label wants in. Incumbents include Chanel, Dior and Prada, along with Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Cartier and many other top watch and jewelry companies.
“Zurich is a relatively small but modern city. Everything can be done on foot, and on the Bahnhofstrasse, a large number of well-known and respected brands are concentrated in a compact area” observed Markus Hünig, chairman of the Zurich Bahnhofstrasse Association.
But fashion competes with equally well-heeled watchmakers and jewelry stores in the race for space. Locals claim Bahnhofstrasse rents are the highest in Europe (albeit skewed by currencies). Feusi cautioned that some superexclusive London retail is actually dearer. But he said the Bahnhofstrasse genuinely boasts Europe’s highest retail revenues by floor space.
Due for a facelift with new seating and paving, the street retains some landmarks amid its constant new faces. Lindt & Sprüngli’s café and confiserie on the corner with Paradeplatz — home to top Swiss banks UBS and Credit Suisse — is particularly popular. But critics argue the Bahnhofstrasse has lost some of its local charm as smaller and funkier stores have been squeezed out by the top international brands, like Bally and Brunello Cucinelli.
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)
The @cfda has shifted the dates of #NYFW, with Men’s showing on February 5 through February 7, and Women’s will directly follow, running from February 8 through 14. The preliminary schedule will be released on the CFDA’s web site in the next few days, but Mark Beckham, VP of marketing for the CFDA, revealed that @rafsimons will be back to close the men’s-specific part of the week with a show on February 7 #wwdfashion (📷: Kelly Taub)
@ferragamo is introducing a new space dedicated to the development of women’s and men’s leather good samples. The laboratory, which is created eco-friendly materials and designed to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes, will allow the company to expand its accessories offering through traditional artisanal approaches. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
How does a “regular, degular, schmegular” girl from the Bronx, N.Y., become a Grammy-nominated artist with a certified platinum record in less than a year? Call it the @iamcardib come up. The 25-year-old has become a musical sensation, and the fashion world is taking note. “If I could describe her style I would say drama. She’s really into the dramatics,” says Cardi B’s stylist @kollincarter. See how Carter styles her bold and out there looks with the link in bio. #wwdfashion
“There is no formula. There is no guideline. I can watch Ted Talks all day, but there is no one who can advise me on exactly what it is I should be doing,” said @ronniefieg, CEO of @kith, in an interview with WWD’s @ariahughes at the brand’s new SoHo office in Manhattan. Head to WWD.com to see how Fieg went from hanging out in shoe stockrooms at 13 to building his own business. #wwdfashion (📷: @weston.wells)
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion