Gender Equal Fashion

DER STANDARD - FOUND A FASHION LABEL STANDARD: How long have you been pursuing the dream of your own label?
Regina Volgger: I've been dreaming about it since I was thirteen years old and took the fashion and design elective at school. However, it was not clear at the time that my sister Jasmin would one day pursue this dream with me.

STANDARD: What is it like working together as sisters?
Starting a business with friends is rather discouraged ...
Jasmin Volgger: We are a well-coordinated team with a clear distribution of tasks. Regina takes care of the design and I take care of the management. Of course, in stressful situations there can be some minor friction, but this can then be resolved in a businesslike manner. We believe that it is very important to keep professional and private matters separate. That's why we try not to talk about work when we meet privately. However, that's not very easy, since the two are already somewhat blurred.

STANDARD: Looking back, many self-employed people say that the first step was the hardest. What did this first step look like for you?
Regina Volgger: At first I had the designs in my head that I wanted to implement myself. Then, out of the blue, came a request to participate in a fashion show, and so it was all then relatively quickly turned into reality.

STANDARD: Why did you decide in favor of your own project and against working for larger companies?
Regina Volgger: Immediately after completing the fashion studies, I worked for larger companies, but it was already clear to me beforehand that this would not fulfill me. I am attracted by the adventure. I've always wanted to carry out my own project, be my own boss, make my own decisions. Of course, that all has its advantages and disadvantages. As a self-employed person, you also have a lot of responsibility and are often left to your own devices.

STANDARD: How did the process of setting up your own business work out?
Regina Volgger: Contrary to expectations, it went quite quickly and unbureaucratically, but of course there is the cost factor, which you should not forget. In the everyday life of a self-employed person, there are always surprises - the one or other sleepless night is part of it. It is a constant learning process. Various workshops and seminars have helped me a lot in this regard, which is also how I was able to build up my network.

STANDARD: When they hear the terms "innovation" or "start-up," many people first think of technology or apps, and less of art, culture, fashion.
Regina Volgger: Most of the funding in the area of innovation is geared toward technology, so you would have to reinvent a material to have a chance there. However, there is now also a lot of government funding in the area of art, culture and fashion, which makes us happy.

STANDARD: There is currently a crowdfunding phase to finance the production of the new collection. Why did you decide on this type of financing?
Jasmin Volgger: Crowdfunding is a great way to get in touch with future customers, of course, and also to raise awareness of the label and get its message across. We find the idea that people can not only donate to an interesting project, but in our case directly pre-order garments from our collection, exciting and the customers also get something for their money - they also become part of a project whose implementation would not be possible without the help of many. We think this idea of community is great.

STANDARD: For start-ups there are incubators, TV shows, business angels - what does the financing of a fashion label look like in general?
Jasmin Volgger: Funding plays a big role here. In recent years, these have also been expanded - that is of course a great support. However, one must not forget that even with subsidies, a certain percentage of equity capital must flow in. Of course, setting this up is a challenge that unfortunately some people fail to meet.

STANDARD: How do you assess the situation for young designers in Austria?
Regina Volgger: A lot has happened on the domestic fashion market in recent years. However, it is very difficult to stay afloat financially as a self-employed person, which is why some have built up a second mainstay in order to secure a steady income. Of course, not everyone is an entrepreneurial type, so you have to be.

STANDARD: Your collection is advertised as gender-neutral and sustainable. There has been a lot of interest in both topics lately - even companies like H&M have been on the sustainability track for some time now, printing shirts with feminist slogans.
Jasmin Volgger: Regina already had the idea of "Gender Equal Fashion" a few years ago, but we have now put it into practice for the first time with our CORE collection. This breaks with the classic collection design with only one uniform collection. We have one design with two fits - for women and men. We are also committed to sustainability and fair production, which is why it is very important to us that we only work with suppliers and producers within Europe and maintain personal contact with all of them.
Regina Volgger: Large corporations have of course noticed that their customers are becoming more and more conscious and consequently also more skeptical and are therefore jumping on the bandwagon of this sustainability movement. The topic of feminism is very topical and big, especially this year, and we think that's important and also worth supporting. T-shirts with feminist slogans and slogans are in vogue right now, but unfortunately some of the slogans or phrases are a bit flat and are produced or worn for commercial purposes, but not because of the message.

STANDARD: Is there actually a plan B if it doesn't work out with your own label, or is the motto "don't even think about it"?
Regina Volgger: It's always important to have a plan B. This would certainly also be in the area of fashion and design.

STANDARD: What advice do you have for other people who want to start their own business in the fashion sector?
Regina Volgger: At the beginning, of course, there is always an idea. When it really comes to realization, we advise you to inform yourself properly and to take advantage of the courses and workshops on offer. Here you can learn a lot about legal and financial issues. Networking is also very important, even if it can be very exhausting. After all, you never know who you might meet and what doors might open up. (Lara Hagen, 10.7.2017)

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