Video: Marc Asekhame, Paris/Zürich
Cut: Max Wuchner, Paris
Photos: Marc Asekhame
Coordination: mille pages, Mirjam Fischer, Zürich
Statements by :
• Christoph Hefti, Brüssel
• Fausto Colombo, Zürich
• Yann Poënset, Les-Plamns-Sur-Bex

Ida Gut

Fashion Design as Architectural Precision Work

In the almost 30 years that Ida Gut has been designing clothes, she has consistently cultivated an outstanding signature style. As one of Switzerland‘s most famous fashion designers, she has created a label that stands for unique patterns, high-quality materials, handcrafted excellence, and professional continuity.

Gut grew up in Appenzell; having trained as a dressmaker, she completed her studies at the Zurich University of the Arts and designed her first collection in 1993. Three years later she opened her first store in the heart of Zurich, where she combined her skills in design and sales with great proficiency. In 2007, she moved her studio-cum-retail store to Ankerstrasse 112 in District 4.

Known for her unparalleled mastery in patternmaking, she designs every one of her items with a mixture of curiosity, discipline, and expertise, and an unerring eye for no-frills beauty. In the process of development, she will try out a pattern, reject it, develop another one, and keep at it until every detail of the overall design and materials is right. “I like the idea of being able to perceive how a piece of clothing is constructed, its complexity. Veiled yes, but not completely covered up.” Ida Gut designs clothing with architectural precision. Sometimes the properties of a fabric will inspire the shape of a silhouette. She has also devised an exacting technique of cutting the sleeves and back of the garment out of the material in one seamless piece. This makes the sleeves fall at a diagonal to the grain of the fabric, so that it lies in soft, flowing folds around the body.

The meticulous choice of high-quality, distinctive but still utilitarian materials and fabrics is another important hallmark of Ida Gut’s designs. She has a knack for combining functional materials and extravagant fabrics. Her profound knowledge of fashion design stood her in good stead for the several years that she spent developing textiles for a German company. In addition to textile design, Gut also creates lines of clothing, which she did for the first time in the year 2000 for the staff of the Swiss pavilion at the Expo 2000 in Hanover, and subsequently for some 40,000 employees of the Migros supermarket chain. Migros came back to Ida Gut a few years later asking her to rework and expand on her designs. She also introduced elements of the Appenzell folk costume in clothing created for a chain of hotels. Winning the competition to design the outfits for all Swissair personnel is a testament to the excellence of Gut’s work. It was an extraordinary achievement but unfortunately the project fell through when Swissair was grounded.

All of her pieces are made in Switzerland. Having production facilities nearby allows for smoother and more flexible processes, especially since Gut has opted for steady, regular production in contrast to fast fashion with its frenetic carousel of micro collections. This also facilitates fulfilling additional orders. Gut is acutely aware of the importance of qualitative and reliable cooperation based on a shared understanding of design ideas and their implementation. This is the only way individuality can be guaranteed. “You can only get innovation when the production chain is intact and the transfer of knowledge moves in both directions.” Close and fruitful cooperation with the Board of Directors of her limited company ensures healthy growth based on thorough study of the fashion market, regular improvement of procedures, new sales formats, and ongoing development of communications. These factors and, above all, the lively, fruitful exchange among her 6-person team are the ingredients that have made her so successful.

At a time when the fashion industry is under great pressure, Gut’s unconventional, high-quality products, sold with personal and expert advice in an unparalleled retail atmosphere, are a surefire guarantee for long-term continuity. The largely female clientele choose explicitly to go to her store not only because they receive such good advice there but also because the customized interior architecture of this former factory speaks the same language as the clothing on display. Clear-cut design and understated aesthetics go hand-in-hand with a superb fit that is compelling in expression and character and nonetheless adapted to each individual wearer.

Time and again, Ida Gut succeeds in creating timeless designs for people of every age and every figure. Cultivating an admirable consistency in matters of style, quality, and innovation, she has given concrete shape to the ideal of wearing comfort that makes a piece of clothing invaluable.

Mirjam Fischer

Ida Gut
© Foto: Franz Rindlisbacher