Did Vetements Just Make Zürich Europe’s New Cool City?

Vetements is leaving Paris behind for the Swiss city of Zürich, which begs the question: Is Zürich now Europe’s new cultural hotspot?

Vêtements Haute Couture Fashion Week Fall 2017

After just three years in business, Vetements is uprooting its home base. The avant garde and tragically hip brand is leaving Paris behind and moving its operations to the Swiss city of Zürich.

Which of course has everyone wondering if this signals some sort of cultural shift in Europe. Is Zürich overtaking Berlin as the continent’s most important incubator of underground cool? Or is the move a result of something far less hip, namely lower taxes?

The brand is, of course, citing culture as the main factor behind of the move, and, in any event, thinks Paris is certainly over.

“Paris kills creativity. Its environment with the ‘bling bling’ is destructive. I’m done with the whole showing-off in fashion and the superficial glamour,” Guram Gvasalia, the brand’s chief executive officer and brother of creative director Demna Gvasali, told a Swiss paper according to _Business of Fashion_.

An unnamed executive also told WWD that there’s “an underground scene to rival Berlin’s festers” in Zürich.

Though, even Gvasali admits the bottom line has something to do with it as well.

“Taxes are obviously another reason for the move,” the CEO told the Swiss paper, “But not the most important one.”

Zürich’s, and indeed all of Switzerland’s reputation as a business-friendly tax haven is certainly better known than its status as some sort of cultural hotspot. There’s a reason why Swiss bank accounts are so popular amongst the one percent after all. Meanwhile, its cultural cachet may still best be summed up by a line from film classic The Third Man. “In Switzerland they had brotherly love—they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock,” snarks a character while comparing the country’s artistic output to that of Italy’s.

Whatever the case, Vetements has so far moved about 40 of its employees from Paris and another location in Dusseldorf to a new location in Zürich. The brand now occupies 16,000 square-feet of a former Phillip factory, and Demna Gvasali himself already has a new home on Lake Zürich. The full move will be completed by September.

To be fair, Vetements employees will find more than enough to do with their time in the city, specifically in the neighborhood of Zürich West. The former industrial area and its plentiful warehouses have emerged as the city’s cultural hub. A cluster of art galleries, forward looking fashion boutiques, bars and trendy restaurants has popped up in recent years. In 2012, The New York Times dubbed it “a gritty haven for the city’s creative class.” The BBC likened it to Berlin, Barcelona, Berlin or Barcelona, London’s Shoreditch neighborhood and New York’s Meatpacking district in 2013. So there’s certainly something going on there.

And to be fair to Zürich it does have a history of producing something more culturally significant than the cuckoo clock. It was the birthplace of the Dada movement back in the 1910s. Perhaps it makes sense that the brand that has turned fashion on its head winds up in the city that birthed a movement that turned culture on its head.

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