Letters from home

Nicky Zimmermann


Monday 30 March. Sydney, Australia.

Hello! Our Team has asked me if I would contribute to A Small Escape by writing a regular letter as we all go through these crazy times together. I’m more of a visual person for the most part, so you’ll have to forgive me if my letters aren’t exactly literary masterpieces! But I think now is a great time to let people into our world even more than ever as we try to navigate each day, for me as a designer and for Zimmermann as a brand.

At the outset I have to say that despite all that is going on around me at the moment, I feel incredibly lucky. I’m feeling healthy and thankfully my family remains safe and well – I also feel privileged to live in Australia and to have all of the amazing resources we have in our country in order to deal with this crisis. My heart goes out to those who are suffering around the world. The news stories from around the world are causing us all much distress and like everyone I’m just hoping each day for some positive news, a small step in the right direction or a ray of hope that says we will get on top of this issue as a global community. 

I really want to thank our amazing team. The last few weeks have been incredibly difficult for them whether that’s our store teams around the world, or in our offices here in Sydney, or our mates in New York and Paris. One of the most distressing things for me has been seeing all of our stores close temporarily. As we said on Instagram the other day, our stores are more than just buildings that house our collections – they are the heart and soul of our brand. They are about people and they are about relationships, some of which we have formed with many of you over many years. We can’t wait to return to these friendships and to welcome you back into our lives.

As a brand we are dealing with so many challenges and are trying to stay optimistic as we plan for the future like everyone else. There have been so many hard decisions for us to contemplate recently and this will no doubt continue in the weeks and months ahead. Those decisions won’t always be right but we are doing our best and staying true to ourselves and our values. 

I feel incredibly privileged that I can still do what I love. I've only ever wanted to do one thing in life and that is to be a designer. I can’t really do anything else! I’m not one of these amazing doctors or medical professionals and I’m not out there solving the big issues we face. To those people we are all in your debt. My job is to create a bit of joy for someone, an escape, a moment that a woman can put on a beautiful dress and just feel amazing. So I refuse to let this bloody virus stop me and our amazing team from creating new pieces and enjoying our process, despite the terrible things happening in the world. 

As a designer, the last few weeks have been all about adaptation. Like never before. I’ve been doing this amazing job for a long time and now is a moment when all creatives need to work in new ways and to find fresh inspiration. Fashion won’t be the same but I’m going to fight to still keep it fun. 

In designing a collection we work in such a tactile sort of way normally and having that taken away from us as we transition to working from home isn’t going to be easy. We have spent the last few weeks practising as we go – sending parts of the Design Room to work from home and testing what works and what doesn’t. The process of creating a collection and the moving parts are many and varied – from creating artwork for prints, to sketching looks, creating patterns, designing original trims, looking at sample fabrics which get developed and improved and tweaked so colour is just so, or the feel is right…..There is the need to cut fabric from the patterns and create first toiles of garments, to play with these on the dummy or on the body. And there is the fitting of garments which we usually spend hours working on each day as each garment is adjusted here and there so it how we wasn’t it. These are the things we do each day, every day. 

All these creative functions we now have to do remotely and we need to do them as part of a team which is separated. Separated but together! Using technology to work in ways that have been done in person and so collaboratively in the same way for years.

To be honest, the thought terrified me at first. But the first few trial days went well. We created some structure around our work and most importantly for me, we still found a way to have a laugh as a team and enjoy what we do. After all, that’s why we do this in the first place.

For now we have the large majority of our team working from home, with a small number still working in the studio in roles that cant be done at home quite yet but observing the important distancing arrangements. I don’t think that will be for much longer, but I feel like we are in a good place to deal with it.

Anyway – I have to go and do a group meeting over Teams. I invariably push a wrong button and do something that delays it for everyone, so I should go get set up now! I’ll share more notes in the coming weeks. Take care.

Nicky x