"Introducing an emerging designer creating captivating leather fashions."
NEW TYPE #6: BERENIK- Veronica Brusa INTERVIEW
"Introducing a new generation of designers"
Veronika Brusa is the quintessential artist. Graphic designer, photographer, and designer of Swiss fashion label BERENIK, she does it all with an attention to detail that shines through in her refined, understated clothing. She’s been traveling her whole life, but after landing in New York and producing two Manhattan-approved collections, she’s ready to settle down and do what she loves most: create.
I was lucky enough to sit down with Veronika at Omen PR and chat with her about life, inspiration, and the BERENIK brand. Full interview below.
------------- Veronika Brusa's INTERVIEW -------------
Jason Greenspan: Where in Switzerland are you from?
Veronika Brusa: I grew up in a very small village, actually, like three thousand people. I moved out when I was sixteen to an even smaller town (I mean, everything in Switzerland is pretty small) and studied graphic design in between traveling. I went to Shanghai, Paris and so on, but it was around twelve years that my home was this small, annoying (laughs) town.
JG: I’ve visited Switzerland, what a beautiful place.
VB: It is an absolutely beautiful country! I would never say otherwise! But it’s also a bit boring because of how small and limiting it can be. I mean, Zurich? Three hundred thousand people? That’s not a big audience.
JG: So how long have you been in NYC?
VB: About a year now, but honestly, I’m traveling half of the time so I’ve had maybe six months where I’m actually here.
JG: Do you love it?
VB: Oh I do! For me it’s a really important step, because I’ve traveled a lot and lived in many different places, and this is the first one that I want to stay in. I can picture my coming years here and I’m not depressed about it.
JG: Well that’s important!
VB: And being an alien here is very important for me too I think: putting yourself in a totally new environment where you have to survive personally and financially brings a lot out in you. At home, you have your past that defines you, but when you move to a new city, it’s just YOU and what you carry inside.
JG: Totally. So, as someone with a background in graphic design, what led you to concentrate your efforts on fashion?
VB: I’ve always had this basic urge to create. I learned very young that creation gives me great satisfaction, and that became my driving force. Pretty quickly into my graphic design career, I realized that I didn’t like that field. It’s not creative enough; you have clients and you always have to do what they want.
VB: I had been sewing since high school, and we didn’t have a lot of money so often times I made my own wardrobe. I became obsessed, especially with making outfits for parties. I’d show up late all the time because I was finishing a dress or something. I eventually started producing small collections at my studio in Switzerland and selling them, on top of my graphic design jobs that were necessary for survival. I was in between everything and it was making me crazy.
VB: My husband ended up getting a job in Shanghai, resulting in us moving there. When I arrived I saw these huge markets with endless varieties of fabric and suddenly everything was just available. And I met so many interesting people that were risking everything -- which is in stark contrast to the environment in Switzerland -- and I thought, “That’s me! That’s how I think too!” This gave me the bravery to take out the loans and make the necessary investment to really do it.
JG: You’ve said that you consider a woman’s attitude when wearing clothing to be very important, and that it’s a starting point for you a lot of the time. Can you explain that further?
VB: The connection between the feeling and the look is very difficult to explain. But it all goes back to when I would have a party to go to on a Saturday or something and I’d just know that I wanted to look a certain way. An image would just pop up in my head. I still do that; I imagine certain people going to specific events and I know exactly how I think they should look.
JG: But confidence is very important, right?
VB: Confidence, but also context. Wherever I go I’m always dressing people in my head. I just have these ideas for complete looks and who should be wearing them where. And it can start other ways too. I remember going to the fabric store with my mother and seeing finished pieces from looking at one roll of fabric. Even going with my father to a home improvement store would inspire me.
JG: So when you get an idea for a design, what’s the first step? Do you sketch it? Do you grab material and start cutting?
VB: Well, I’m still developing my methods for getting from the idea to the finished product. I’m always drawing, and many times it’s the first thing I do after getting an idea, but I never draw specifically for a collection. Even when I’m working on one line, I’ll get ideas for another collection and sketch them out. That’s the hardest thing to do, to put a fresh idea on hold like that.
JG: So you must have some giant file cabinet filled with sketches yet to be revisited.
VB: I actually rarely look at them! Once I put something on paper, it’s in my head and I don’t need to see it again.
JG: I’d like to talk about BERENIK SS15 for a moment. Is it a very special collection for you? Considering that it’s the first one you created in New York.
VB: It was very difficult for me. When I came here in January, I was on my second collection in a row without having taken a break, and that’s exhausting. And on top of that, there was all of the moving to handle. Like, I didn’t even have internet. I was doing layouts in coffee shops. I knew that I should’ve hired interns to help with the collection, but I realized I’d rather work eighteen hours a day for three months than introduce an unfamiliar dynamic like that.
JG: The AW15 collection was inspired heavily by your travels. Can you pinpoint any specific locations and which pieces they inspired?
VB: Not really. I see inspiration more as the energy that feeds the vision. Things like cities and architecture, and the emotions that I feel when I see them go into this world in my head, and from there they flow back into my ideas subconsciously. For example, I was in London for Fashion Week, and everything seemed green to me. Maybe it was a street sign, or something on a bus, but I became obsessed with this specific dark green color, and it manifested itself in this one shirt from AW15. I’m actually wearing the color right now!
JG: Tell me about the slight androgyny of the collection and previous collections of yours.
VB: I personally like simple things as opposed to very feminine clothing that makes women look like birthday presents. Menswear is very simple, but it has to have a certain quality, and I think that’s difficult to achieve. And I just like the aesthetic of neutrality; it’s sexy when a woman isn’t trying too hard.
JG: We’ve got to talk about the shoes in AW15. They’re amazing, and clearly a result of your interest in architecture. I mean, they’re literally miniature pieces of architecture! What was the creation process like?
VB: The shoemaker that I collaborated with in Shanghai is very ambitious, and I knew that I could do something really cool with him; that’s very hard to find. I’d work all day in my studio and then meet with him at 10 or 11pm, making the necessary changes from there. This was really the first shoe that I’d developed myself, and he was always willing to go along with my changes through all 5 prototypes!
JG: Do you have somewhere that you’d like to travel to in the near future?
VB: Honestly, no. And that’s a first for me, feeling like I’m home somewhere. I want to spend as much time as possible here, and that’s a great feeling.
JG: What’s next for BERENIK?
VB: My next collection! I think it will be surprising, in a good way. If everything goes well, I’ll be doing fashion for my whole life!
INTERVIEW & WRITTEN BY: JASON GREENSPAN
PHOTOGRAPH BY: FUZHONG YANG
LOCATION: OMEN PR