Frontstory: On the road to success
by Sandra Kacetl
The ones who step out of line. The Vorarlberg sisters founded their own fashion label two years ago and have been consistently pursuing their philosophy of gender equality ever since. With their year-round collection CORE, they live the idea of slow fashion and don't care about certain classic standards of the industry.
Gender equal fashion - at VOLGGER Studio there is only one design for women and men but two fits. The CORE collection with its fluid boundaries is constantly being expanded as a year-round collection. Decent shades like blue, black, gray and white dominate.
You founded VOLGGER Studio two years ago. Has fashion always been your shared dream?
Regina: I had the thought of running my own label one day quite early on. I think I was 13 years old when I made the basic decision to pursue a career in fashion. Fashion design was a free subject at school, and after graduating from high school I first went to Munich.
There I studied fashion and design at ESMOD and then also attended the master class for fashion and art in Vienna.
Jasmin: Professionally, I had nothing to do with fashion before founding VOLGGER Studio, because I studied theater, film and media studies and then worked for five years as a production manager in TV and film. It was only through Regina that I ended up in this industry. She reached a point where it was clear that she could no longer manage everything on her own. I agreed to support her, and then the work gradually became more and more. It all grew over time, I didn't plan it.
How did you divide up the different areas of work?
Regina: I cover the whole creative area and concentrate on the designs. However, I'm not so good at organization. That's why it was a great relief for me when Jasmin agreed to support me.
Jasmin: Accordingly, I take care of everything else, i.e. the entire management and marketing. That ranges from PR and communications to production management and sales.
Working so closely with family or friends can also be difficult. How smoothly does it work for you?
Jasmin: We divided up the areas very clearly from the start. So everyone does exactly what they do best and both are happy.
Regina: Completely. Of course, the opinion of the others is important and we like to give each other feedback, but we don't try to talk over each other. That's why it works really well and there are actually no arguments.
The fashion business is a tough place for a young label. What are the biggest challenges for you?
Jasmin: Since we founded VOLGGER Studio two years ago, we have been continuously developing our brand. Challenges abound, but one of the biggest from my point of view is to build the right contacts in the different areas. For example, we have very clear ideas about the material we use - it has to be high quality, natural, certified if possible, and from Europe. That is very important to us, but it limits the choice of producers. They must not only be trustworthy, but also willing to cooperate with such a young label. Because our production and purchase quantities are naturally much smaller than those of large established companies. Finding the right distribution partners is also a fine art. The magic word is networking. Always and everywhere, because it's a hard-fought market.
You don't just make casual fashion, there's an exciting philosophy behind it. Can you explain it in more detail?
Regina: Our theme is gender equal fashion. This means that all of our garments have one design for men and women, but the fit is different.
For my very first line, I designed a partner t-shirt.
People thought that was so cool at the time that I resolved to stay on this exciting and socially relevant topic.
Jasmin: Our fashion is about both genders being able to wear the same thing. Customers can totally express themselves without worrying about whether the garment is for men or women. It is simply from VOLGGER Studio.
You also take social and ecological aspects into account. What do you pay particular attention to?
Regina: Firstly, the material and the quality. We don't use any synthetic products, but work only with natural and mostly certified materials such as cotton, linen or Tencel and cashmere. We also use vegetable-tanned leather, and with this product you can tell from the smell alone that it has not been chemically treated.
Jasmin: From the thread to the buttons and rivets to the packaging material, we make sure that the distances are as short as possible until the material reaches us. That's why we only cooperate with partners from Europe.
Where are your garments made?
Jasmin: That depends on the product. Some of the pieces are handmade in Austria, others are made close by in Poland, and one of our big production partners is in Italy. It's important to us that they are easy and straightforward to reach, because we don't just want to keep personal contact, we want to look at the production sites and see who is working there and under what conditions. We attach very great importance to transparency, sustainability and fair production conditions.
At the end of last year, you launched your CORE collection. What makes it so special?
Regina: CORE is a year-round collection, which means we don't follow seasons, because we want to completely break away from that concept.
Instead, we always bring out individual looks and pieces. We like the idea of slow fashion - rather buy fewer garments, but in a great quality. Then you can enjoy it for a long time.
My designs are very much in line with this concept, because they don't follow short-term trends, but are timeless and the garments can therefore be worn for a long time.
You can easily order online at www.volgger-studio.com.
Where can you get your fashion?
Jasmin: There are several possibilities. On the one hand, we have an online store on our website where you can order at any time. In Vienna we are currently cooperating with two stores and we exhibit at design markets from time to time. We are also represented internationally, as our fashion is available in a store in Copenhagen. We met the owner at a trade fair and she was so enthusiastic that she has been selling our things ever since. Of course we are very happy about that, apart from the fact that Regina's designs fit perfectly into
Scandinavia. We have already had talks in Vorarlberg as well, it would be great if something comes up there s well.
From November 9 to 11, 2018, VOLGGER Studio will be at POTENTIALe.
To gain a foothold as a young label, you need staying power. Are you already working full-time for your label?
Jasmin: I'm always working as a production manager, but only on a project-by-project basis. Since I don't have the time for longer assignments, I've had to turn down offers more than once, but the job itself is still a lot of fun.
Regina: For the past year and a half, I have also been working in the theater. That's a wonderful balance for me, although I'm dealing with clothes there again. However, theater costumes are something completely different and I enjoy being around people.
What plans do you have, what's next?
Jasmin: We are already looking forward to the fall, as we will be exhibiting at some design markets again. Among other things, we will be at POTENTIALe in Feldkirch in November. Since we don't have our own store, these markets give us the opportunity to get in direct contact with customers and that is very valuable for us.
Regina: I can then directly implement the feedback we receive on such occasions. It's important for me to find out what people particularly like or where I can still make small adjustments and improvements.