When knitwear designer Christina Krämer first launched her business in 2007, chic and luxurious fashion seemed at odds with customer perceptions of ethical, sustainable clothing. “I’d travelled throughout Asia in my previous jobs, where I saw the impact of fast fashion,” says Christina. “I wanted to do something different, using natural, high-quality fabrics while considering the human and environmental cost.”
But, as the Zurich-based designer discovered, it just wasn’t the right time. “People weren’t interested in sustainable fashion, and organic brands had this worthy, ‘granola’ image,” says Christina. “I didn’t want to be part of that. Ethical clothing can also be beautiful, and I design from a fashion-first standpoint.”
Staying true to her principles, Christina took some time to reflect and regroup. Then, in 2013, while on a business delegation to Mongolia, she discovered the organic cashmere that is now central to her business.
“Everything in the production chain is transparent,” she explains. “The cashmere hair is bought directly from the nomads who keep the goats. It’s then cleaned and spun and knitted in one process, so there’s no risk of mixing fibres.” Christina initially tested the market with accessories, and had such a positive response that she soon developed clothing collections for men and women, launching Modern Nomads in 2015. Today, these are available online, stocked by some 40 boutiques in Switzerland, and at stores in South Korea and Japan. A Christina Krämer shop will open in Zurich this year.
Christina wants her customers to look good and feel good. “People are sensitive to ethical fashion now,” she says. “They want to know where garments are produced. They ask about fair trade and fair payment, and the environmental impact.” Crucially, she says, they fall in love with her designs, too. “The clothes are ageless and timeless with subtle details and a less-is-more philosophy. My customers come back to tell me how long-lasting the garments are, how they stay soft and luxurious even after they’ve been washed many times.”
Reflecting on her growth to date, Christina acknowledges that she hasn’t taken the easy path. “But people are with me now,” she says with a smile. “It’s the perfect moment for our brand.”